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The Journal of the Prodigal Son’s Father — 58 Comments

  1. Thank you for such a vivid and practical illustration. May God help me to love him wholeheartedly, as he also loves me despite of my filthiness

  2. Great illustration but I do not totally agree that the elder son did not love his dad or only loved him for what he could get. I honestly believe that he deserves more than a kid goat. Yes, he was bitterly disappointed - not at the return of his brother, but moreso at the thought that his dad loved his younger son more. Wouldn't you be jealous that your dad did not appreciate your loyalty? We need to show appreciation to those who stayed, not just those who returned. When we carelessly regarded those who remain, and treat those who leave better than those who stayed, we maybe sending the wrong message to those who stayed - telling them the treatment will be better if you leave. While we search for the lost sheep, we need to ensure that all our gates are secured to ensure that other sheep will not wander. Our retention program must be just as important as our search and find.

    • I totally agree with you Juliet. We rejoice over those who wander and come back, but I am sure heaven also rejoices over those who never leave. Its almost as if we glamorize those who go off into the world and return with exciting conversion stories, that we make those who stay in the church feel deprived of some exciting rags to righteousness story to tell.

      • Juliet and William, the father was not fooled by the older son, and the story as told by Jesus bears this out in the end. Love cannot be faked, only certain actions might attempt to fool, but love, if missing, will be lacking.

        The younger was never going to get the same share as the older son, so he took his share and left. The older son wanted the full share and thus was compelled to stay for the reward: all that his father owned, including the house, land and servants. The father represents God in the story and God is never fooled by service done for the reward of that which is coveted above Him.

        Neither son understood the full measure of their father's love which is the point of the story as Jesus told it, but the younger brother's eyes (as well as the older's) were opened to a whole new realization by how the prodigal was welcomed back by the father whom he had sinned against so wickedly. He was needy and contrite, and THIS is our need, to come as he did to our Father. When our need is the greatest, God's love, shown in mercy and grace, is seen more clearly.

        Our sinful nature can blind us to God's true character due to our always inward focus. This happens while taking for granted His blessings, which the selfish heart will always do. The Father knew the careless ways of the younger would lead him to poverty soon, but the greatest blessing was found by this wayward son upon returning; the breadth and length and depth and height of his father's love. One son received it while the other criticized and spurned it.

        Why this story from Jesus? Israel had so misrepresented God's true character and by the great gift of the fatted calf (Lamb of God) given to one so sinful revealed Grace and Mercy to the world, which some had never lost sight of. Jesus was answering the critics of God's love which was revealed in the reception of sinners by Jesus. (Luke 15:2) These critics were represented by the elder son.

        While many "remain in the truth", they are far from loving God or understanding His love for them.

        • Thank you Robert, that was very insightful. I would like to learn how to love without looking forward to any reward. I guess I can't fake that, it must be a gift from above. I pray to the Lord to give me/us that kind of love to Him as well as to his children.

        • Our glamorizing of the younger son disregards that "prodigal" means wasteful, reckless, profligate, uncontrolled; and that he "wasted" his father's blood, sweat and tears in "riotous living": "The Greek word for “riotous” (asotos) appears three other times as a noun in the New Testament: for drunkenness (Eph. 5:18), rebelliousness (Titus 1:6), and debauchery that includes “lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries” (1 Pet. 4:3-4, NKJV). Such pleasures of godless living wasted away his health and wealth, and soon he became moneyless, friendless, and foodless. His glittering life wound up in a gutter." SSLesson.

          What does it take to operate a family business? While the older son, industrious, hard working, non-self-serving got up early and went to bed late, investing his all in his father's vision and work, the uncontrolled son was a skill-less bum who daily blew his father's earnings wastefully on partying with his friends. On drugs and alcohol, his claim for inheritance before his father's death was just continued grief to his parents, for they knew he would blow it all as he always did. And when he runs out of money, with no ability to work at any job, they hoped he would choose to come back home instead of committing suicide or be a drunken homeless murder victim.

          Those who know what it takes to operate a family business know the story of the older son. Everything he said was true, including Juliet's reflection. The Father never put him down or criticized him. "Son, you are always with me. Everything I have is yours" is a statement of appreciation, not an indictment.

          The problem is that the older son never had children of his own, and so never knew the heart of his father and mother by personal experience. The speech of the younger son was atrocious in its perception of his father, demonstrating that he also did not know the heart of a father and mother. But all that this father wanted to know, in his heart, was "my son was dead; and now he is alive. I must celebrate".

          Heaven is longing for prodigals to come home. Prodigals come with the same bum heart, the same reveling disposition, the same dead beat dreams:
          "You have plowed wickedness;
          You have reaped iniquity.
          You have eaten the fruit of lies,
          Because you trusted in your own way" Hosea 10:13,
          The heart is not changed; but he is on the way home, with some kind of remorse. The Father pleads: "son, give me your heart; let me transform it". If the prodigal really returns, not just for the food and shelter as he confessed, but accepts love and forgiveness, and seeks transformation of character, we will see him at the 2nd Coming.

          The second son is learning about mercy and grace, repentance and forgiveness; learning about a Father's heart when His children go astray. As the older son has always trusted his father through the daily tasks of life; in this too, learning to love the unlovely, forgiveness and mercy, he will venture to follow his Father's dream. He too will learn the plan of salvation is through the mercy and grace of our Heavenly Father, whose heart of Love saves Father, Mother, older Son and younger Son, and all who come, through the drawing of the Holy Spirit and the Blood of the Lamb.

          "Son (yes, SON), you have always been with me. All I have is yours. And, I hope and pray, by the grace of God, that from today a real "brother" will journey with you through the transforming power of the blood of Jesus Christ.

          • Huford, It is interesting to read the different spins and applications to the prodigal son parable. The comparisons that are made from the different view points, are reasons for 2Timothy 3:16. If we let our imaginations run wild so to speak, a sibling rivalry seems evident. This is not uncommon in the human family throughout history. The youngest child in many families gets more attention and ends up, what we term as, spoiled. This seems to be the case in this scenario.
            I think you have painted a realistic picture of all the characters. I am not sure of the portion that the father gave the son was an inheritance or some other type of share and it probably doesn't really matter. The father gave him what was commonly expected. I side with the older son but then that isn't the reason for the parable. As I have previously stated, Luke 15:1,2&3 describe the reason for the three parables.

          • The family business is returning the lost to God.
            The younger son's attitude is
            "Thanks for the stable home, the Christain education, the moral direction; but I want to see the world." How heartbreaking to have given a child every chance to grow into the inheritance of the kingdom and see it wasted.
            The older son has lost the sight of the mission, which is to return people to God. He is reward focused not people focused.

            One son is warning about presumptious grace, ingratitude, and lawlessness living. The second son a warning about working our way to heaven and measuring our own worth.

            The economy of heaven will be unlike any we've known. There will be no needs and no demands. Only caring for God and all his creations.

          • Hurford, the parable is addressing the accusations of Luke 15:2, and must be seen in that light.

            There is no glamorizing of the younger brother, it's the purpose of the story to reveal to Jesus' critics THEIR dangerous position of rejecting God's (the father in the story) grace for the open transgressors (the prodigal son) whom the self-righteous feel are unworthy, while they "behave" and inherit the father's kingdom, which they will shut themselves out of by being so unlike the father (God).

            The ONLY character in the story we could speak well of is the father who demonstrates why Jesus "receives sinners!" like us.

            Note that this was the last of the 3 stories, ending with exposing the true spirit of those Jesus was answering, and it should have left the deepest impression on those accusers of Christ and His mission to save the lost.

          • Sonia, totally?
            I think we all need to study the story, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that we can see clearly. The varied opinions, some conflicting, are indicators of religious learning from others and/or limited study on our part. What is clear is that we have to study more diligently, paying close attention to what God wants us to learn for our salvation, while differentiating what applies and what does not apply to God. This is so very necessary.

        • I agree with you. The two sons were selfish. Just like we tend to be. You see, the story is not really about the prodigal sons (because both sons left home - one in body and one in mind). The story is about a loving and forgiving father who will not rest until his children are safe at home. Thanks for sharing.

          • Religious evaluations have a tendency to glorify the returned prodigal; while devaluing the son who remained at home. Can religiosity be trusted to offer fair evaluations in view of God's evaluations of His Church: "wretched, miserable, blind, naked"? Blindness often clamors for authenticity of sight. We can listen to the conversations between Jesus Christ and his contemporaries to catch a small glimpse of these times: Egs "Woe unto you Pharisees, blind guides"; "Get thee behind me Satan, for you value......" (to Peter), etc.

            Read the story again: The prodigal son came home for food and shelter; and in that context repented (without indicating the specifics of his repentance). He asked for a job as a servant (for shelter and food; when he had no skill to offer, and no history that indicate willingness). The story is not indicative of any transformation in the "prodigal"/wasteful one. The story is completely that of a Father who loves enough to still value this person as a "son" resurrected. All that mattered to him was that his son came home alive, not in a casket.

            The older son had every right to his complaint that he was never given the appreciation of value, not even a birthday party; while a massive celebration breaks out over the returned "prodigal"/wasteful one. Did anyone among our religious interpreters take notice that the father did not even take time to inform his older son that his brother had returned home, or invited him to the party? The older son had to ask someone what was going on. Talk about being forgotten.

            Let's put it this way: In the Father's day to day absorption with looking down the road for his prodigal son, might there be a chance, a great big chance that he just neglected his relationship with the son at home? The evidence we have is: 1) Never planning a celebration, not even birthday or passover, for his older son. 2) He did not remember to inform, or invite his older son to a celebration for his returned brother. How do you think this son felt, probably for years, as he went through this kind of neglect, probably from childhood after his brother was born? Does the younger son present as a pampered and undisciplined child?

            We have to be clear on this: Jesus Christ used this story to indicate our Father's love: Even for the salvation of the prodigal He would empty himself of being God, and die in our place. However, we must never assume that the rest of the story is representative of our Father in Heaven and His love. God does not neglect or forget to invite the faithful ones at home to the celebrations of salvation. He is intentionally proactive in promptly sending a clear invitation to the faithful to be part of his welcome home party. This is not news. God's children at home are an integral part of the Father and not an after thought; especially not a thought that someone has to bring to His attention because he forgot and neglected.

            Our God is a God of justice/fairness/equity. God uses symbols, stories, parables to illustrate aspects of Him character; but these symbols cannot be generalized to their limits. Otherwise Jesus Christ is on hinges, swinging open when a human turns a nob and pushes. But He is the "door" of access to the Father in the Most Holy.

            God bless all.

          • Hurford, The story does not glorify the prodigal or the "faithful" son, it answers the accusation of Luke 15:2. It teaches the love of God towards sinners, and his joy over repentant sinners.

            Perhaps taking too literally the parable will lead to making suppositions in trying to make the story "stand on all four"? Jesus was illustrating the joy in heaven when a soul is redeemed from sin, the purpose of His mission and the reason He "receiveth sinners".

            You have no reason to state the father neglected the older son. No one throws a "welcome home" party for those who never left. The older son exposes his own selfishness and shows no repentance for it. By even coming home and stating "I have sinned" shows genuine repentance in the prodigal.

            I think there is more in this story than you have seen yet.

    • I am in total concurrence with Juliet, the principle of reciprocity demand that for the love and care that the elder son showed his father and the pride that his father drew in his should not be put a sunder by a returnee. The father ought to have embraced him better instead of picking out the negative which the father himself showed.

      As Christians, it is fathomable and a good trait to treat others equally but not rejoice so much in those who have brought shame and outcasts in our lives while giving a cold shoulder to those who have walked with us through the rough and happy terrains of life. I advocate for the Principle of Gather all but scatter none where equity is equality

    • William, I think the points you and Juliet are making are good ones that we should think about but at the same time I also believe such things are straying from the intent Jesus had for the parable.

      The whole thing is basically about the relationship of the two sons. Jesus was using it to show how wrong the position of the Pharisees was in rejecting the tax collectors and other sinners. The rest of the other things are interesting to discuss but inconsequential concerning the context the parable is set in.

      • Tyler, thanks for redirecting our focus to a particular respect of the parable. I find your thoughts quite organized and insightful. However, that parable is so rich it covers a broad scope of our Christian experience. Therefore, it would not be entirely true to say "...the rest of the other things are...inconsequential...."

      • Tyler, Wasn't Jesus Christ sharing through varied parables diverse perspectives of lost-ness and saving of those who are the lost, including:
        1.The wealthy lost man who repented and turned about his life
        2.The lost person who is not aware of being lost but must be found
        3.The poor man who receives the reward of salvation
        4.The rich man who represents the Father’s riches and love
        5.The rich young man who chose his riches over God
        6.The rich industrious young man who needed to understand forgiveness
        7.The rich man who received his just reward for selfish living
        8.The lost person who can’t find his way back home and need help
        9.The rich young man who must acknowledge his lost-ness and need
        10.The rich man who represents the longing of our Father in Heaven

        The Father in the story of the prodigal has no sacrifice on which to base forgiveness, and no transforming power on which to guarantee change of life for the lost. He can no more determine the life of his second son than the life of his first son. But the father is invested with the long-suffering, patience, faith and hope of a father for the restoration of his son, trusting in the Blood of Jesus Christ. Just as our trio categorization of the sheep knows it is lost but needs help to come back, and the coin is lost but does not know it is lost, and the prodigal knows he is lost and can choose to come back is a simplistic limitation of the stories, so we can narrow the possibilities of the teaching of Jesus Christ. Isn't that part of the reason he gave so many different stories to demonstrate the width or girth of His mercy and compassion?

        Juliet offers a balance in thinking that the story required, particularly in view of some of the freelancing in the characterizations of personalities, including those of William in his blog; and William agreed with her. It is part of the story of understanding lost-ness and the saving grace of Jesus Christ. The first son was a true believer, a faithful servant, an obedient child, who sacrificed for the sake of his father's dreams. But he too has to learn that forgiveness and restoration is something special, for all, not just for the sake of the resurrected bum who came back home to eat the fattened calf, but what it took love in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to bring the "prodigal" son, Adam, back home. Father, mother, older son and younger son all need the same grace, for the "asotos" of Adam has come upon all flesh, and only the love of God in real death and real resurrection can transform "prodigal""asotos" into a "Son" with the Divine nature. The parables of Jesus Christ on saving the lost includes every single one of us.

        Thank Son of God, Creator, Jesus Christ for teaching us the love of our Father in Heaven, and the meaning of the sacrificed "Son of Man" who brings us all prodigals back home.

        • Huford although the questions were directed to Tyler, it is interesting that 7 0f the 10 parables that you list are directed to the rich. I would mention a couple of texts in answer to the question why Jesus taught in parables? Matt 13:34,35 and Luke 8:10.
          The application of those parables in Luke 15 was pertinent to the culture of that society and time period.

      • If we did not have the benefit of vv1-3, how otherwise would anyone interpret the story?
        For me apart from the objective of berating the self-righteous pharisees and scribes, this parable is one of the best didactive stories in the whole Bible about child-rearing and the expectations of parents in their children.
        Which child after hearing the story of the prodigal son does not condemn - or out of human empathy sympathize with that poor boy? If we look at it from that perspective, it is a child's story. And on that human level, we will appreciate the elder son's reaction, and sympathize with him more than we do the prodigal.
        If I may, I would rather suggest that the family bond may not have been that strong. It is possible sibling rivalry was rife.That probably explains the elder brother's attitude to his renegade brother. In that case the father who alone understood the love he had for ALL his children may have ignored one critical input in child-rearing: fostering brotherly bond among children. Any cue from the patriarchs?
        Yes. Father Isaac's Esau and Jacob. And then Jacob's own preferential treatment for Joseph which contributed in no small way to the hatred which eventually led to Joseph's sale into slavery.
        As parents let us learn to keep our children thoroughly bonded. In that way, they will feel for their siblings the way we the parents do.

        • Interesting points you make, Christopher.

          Since Jesus told the story to teach about the Father God, do you think that He intended His hearers to think the Father had neglected anything in raising his boys?

        • Christopher I may qualify as a patriarch, having reared 5 children including a set of twins in tandem with a very qualified wife and mother. What soon becomes evident is that all of our decisions are not perfect. There may be arguments and bickering between siblings but if there is a threat from outside the family the concern would be for their safety. Protecting each other would be the major objective. As a parent who knows their children, you detect the different feelings that each one has, and try to make everything as equal as possible. Did Jesus have the details in proper family management in mind? It doesn't seem that way to me. As others have said it is an illustration to show Our Heavenly Fathers love for all His children.

  3. If there are no streets of gold in heaven, no loved one to talk to, no fancy mansions to dwell in; OH LORD I STILL WANT TO GO! Help me never to depart from your protective love & care...

    What an interesting Journal

  4. This illustration of the fathers thoughts of grief makes me wonder of our father in heavens heartache when he looks upon us his children and sees our hearts desire in our so callled comitment to knw and do his will is it because we truly love him or is it because of what we gaining and what we hope to ultimately gain eternal life it makes me realise that truly I'm selfish in the best of my motives and that my best is as filthy rags but I thank you jesus for your cleansing blood let us not be like the son that was in his fathers presence that did the will out of obligation let us come to the realisation that we need our father not for what he gives us ,we need to love him with the sam$e kind of love that he has for us pure unadulterated love....thank you father for loving me even though I may behaved the same as the 2 sons may have behaved thank you for bearing with me and for loving me none the less

    • Thank you for sharing that. I strongly believe that the brothers did not fully understand their fathers love and the depth of His forgiveness. No matter what our situation of"lostness" our heavenly Father's greatest desire is to have us home. Praise God!

  5. Everyone loves for a reward, no matter what the reward may be. Spouses love their life partners for the reward of being loved back exclusively, not to mention the other benefits of marriage. Like the older son, all of God's children love Him for the many gifts they have received from Him or hope to receive from Him. Even the most pious child of God, who is completely detached from mundane interests and benefits, hopes to receive the reward of eternal life in paradise, which is often referred to as "the Eternal Hope". There is no single professed Christian who would continue to live a life of self-denial if everyone, righteous or not, would eventually be destroyed in the flames of hell. Take a little time to think about that last sentence. The profound truth of it will dawn on you, maybe for the first time in your entire life. We are all loving God and are loyal to Him for the hope of a reward, whether we like to admit it or not. Wasn't that why the Apostle Paul wrote, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men miserable."? (1Cor 15:19). Even God Himself loves us with the hope that we would love Him back and worship Him exclusively, which is why He would eventually destroy everyone who doesn't love Him back after He patiently loves them over time (Romans 9:22).

    • Eugenson, the love you speak of is not genuine love. It is conditional "love" and that is not the love God has for us, nor the love we should have for others. If your parents loved you only for what you could give them in return, their "love" for you was fake as well.

      Your characterization of God's love for us as self-seeking is irreverent, misguided and false. God is Love. He loves even those that He knows will never accept Him. He loves those who have already been lost to Satan.

      Love is not a business relationship. Genuine love is unconditional with NO expectation of reward or repayment. Else, it is not love but some type of twisted, self-centered and selfish reward seeking.

      Please read 1 Corinthians 13 for a valid descriptionn of Love.

      • Sieg, I would suggest that you be a little more objective here. If your parents loved you and hoped that you’d return their love, would that be self-seeking? If that qualified for self-seeking, in your opinion, as it applies to your parents, it wouldn’t hold true when applied to God. I’ll tell you why in a moment. Here’s why: If you, Sieg, took the life of a man, it would be murder. But if God took the life of a man, it wouldn’t be murder. Why not? The reason is He is God, the creator and giver of life and is entitled to take what He created and gave whenever He pleases.

        In the same vein, when God expects us to love Him back for loving us, it is not self-seeking. God Himself says in Exodus 20:5-6, “I will bring punishment on those who hate me….But show my love to…those who love me….” That information is found within the very governing Constitution of Heaven, the Decalogue, so you better pay attention. Clearly, God hopes that we return His love, and that is not self-seeking, my friend.

        The problem is people tend to view the things of God as they would the things of men. Nothing can be more misguided and irreverent than that. Furthermore, I would advise that people don’t play God’s advocate in ignorance as the three friends of Job did and were reprimanded by God at the end of the day.

        Some people may be quick to get this whole thing twisted. So, I will cap it up by making it very clear that there’s no wickedness in God (Psalm 92:15). He’s just being God.

        • Eugenson, the quality of the parents love who long for the return of a child would depend on their motive wouldn't it? God's love is pure because His motives are pure and for OUR best interest. God must destroy those who hate Him because they hate their fellow man and would destroy them, and if possible, would destroy God, who is life to all. We "hate" God when we put anyone or anything else first before Him. (Luke 14:26)

          If we don't define the quality of God's love which is seen in the Cross of Jesus, we can make Him look arbitrary just because He is Sovereign over all creation. He made all things for His pleasure(joy of fellowship) as we would raise a family or plant a garden for our pleasure (very limited example!).

          Yes, genuine love brings a "reward" or benefit because that is the nature of doing for others as we would have done for us. Preferring the good of others even if it cost us everything is genuine love, the "agape" of 1 Cor 13. Here we find love shown by 8 definitions of what it IS and 8 definitions of what it is NOT. Study each one closely and realize how selfless those who exhibit it must be. Meekness and lowliness of heart is the only way to express this love, especially in a sinful world. This is the expression of Jesus whole life/death for the world. It is the Love of God embodied in a human. He wants it restored in every sinner and it will be such in every true witness. This is the only true source of perfect peace and joy, the well-spring of everlasting happiness.

          In this we can understand why "the meek will inherit the earth". (Ps 37:11)

          • Robert, I shared my impression that interpretations glorify the prodigal son. Jesus Christ in His story did not glorify the prodigal son; but rather lifted up the compassion of the Father in representing the love of our Father in Heaven.

            The father in the story does not in every way represent the love of God, as for example the way he related to the older brother. I respect your opinion for what it is, as everyone brings a perspective to the story. If you cannot relate to the perspective I shared, that is fine. But perchance you would consider reading the story again with an open mind, may I quote:
            25 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’

            That quote in the story, as Jesus Christ told it, indicates that the father threw a party for the prodigal, but neglected to even send a message to the older brother. How long does it take to kill an oxen, dress and prepare it; while preparing the other ingredients in the menu for a large celebration? That is how long...no: "As he came close and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing". How long were they partying and celebrating before the older son came close to the house and discovered a celebration; and had to ask someone what is going on? Brother Robert, I don't believe you are short-sighted to not recognize that this is a serious neglect on the part of the father. He forgot the older son - for several hours. Where was the older son? Out in the field, on the job, as he always did. No information. No invitation. No respect. It seems that your comment suggest that that is a normal home dynamic, as far as you are concerned.

            I am saying that this irresponsible neglect on the part of the father correlates with the response of the older son that he had never been given a celebration. "Your son" is a statement of disconnect that he felt deeply, and I can guarantee it was not a new feeling. Does anyone understand the pain of the older son in observing how the father's emotions were tied up with his younger son, prior to leaving, and after he left, to this exclusion of the older brother? To be totally forgotten when the Father threw a party for the returned prodigal had to tear deep in the heart. Our Father in Heaven is not like that!! Let us take from the story what Jesus Christ intended, and not assume a correlation with God that does not fit what God is like.

          • Hurford,

            Keep the question being answered always in sight when deciphering the parables of Jesus. He answered the accusation directly. The focus was on finding the lost and the return of the prodigal, and the joy that thrills all holy beings.

            The details are just part of the story that brings other issues into focus, such as the older son's condemnation of the father for being so joyful over the lost son's return. (see Luke 15:2)

            We don't know (it isn't detailed in Jesus' parable) if the older son DID know. He was promised the entire estate in due time, so what was he lacking? Also, was gone when the younger brother arrived and I'm sure was to be informed as soon as possible (no cell phones then) when returning home. I find in this father such goodness in that he was anxious to share his joy with the older son.

            Look at how the father tells him, then see the older son's reaction, the same as those who were accusing Jesus of "receiving" sinners. It was a warning to those who were blinded by selfish motives and purposes, as was the older son. The circumstances are not all known, except that the older brother refused to go in. I'm certain the joy he had heard on his approach was just the warm-up for the party that would begin once all had arrived. Again, no time for invitations to be sent because God is happy NOW! I'm sure every servant as well as the other son, were to be surprised at the joyous occasion of receiving one as if from death itself. Isn't death our only option while lost? (John 5:24)

            After all, the father knew the older son was being "faithful" and would be home at the normal time of arrival, and probably wanted to share the good news himself, in person, rather than send a messenger. This is a wonderful insight to just how joyful God is when a sinner repents, don't you think?

            In the older son, the Jewish nation was being revealed so that they might realize their departure from having the same compassion as God for the lost souls their self-righteousness despised. The father is not faulty, but the older son. Jesus told the story and we must see it for the truth it holds for us. No mistake on Jesus' part.

        • Eugenson, you said "Everyone loves for a reward, no matter what the reward may be." This is as far removed from genuine love that I can imagine. If you had read 1 Corinthians 13, you would have seen that genuine love is not motivated for "what's in it for me" as you claim. Instead, genuine love is self-sacrificial and focused entirely on what we can give, not on what we can get. Since this is not natural for humans, it must originate in God.

          Your later post stated "If your parents loved you and hoped that you’d return their love, would that be self-seeking?"

          You are making 2 different arguments. The first asserts that people (and God) only love for selfish reasons. The second asserts that we all hope to be loved. These are different points that you are mixing up. The first is patently false and against everything that God stands for. The second is probably true for most people (most of us want to be loved).

          Honestly, you seem a bit confused. You first claim that even God's love has selfish motives. You then correctly note that there can be no wickedness in God. These statements cannot both be true.

          Please read 1 Corinthians 13 and compare it to the selfish, reward-seeking “love” that you believe in.

    • Eugenson, you wrote:
      "Even God Himself loves us with the hope that we would love Him back and worship Him exclusively, which is why He would eventually destroy everyone who doesn't love Him back after He patiently loves them over time (Romans 9:22)."

      Where did learn that selfishness and self-serving are fundamental definitions of love?
      You have a point regarding the meaning of outcomes, but did you corrupt the value of outcomes in corrupting the value of love?

    • Eugenson, have you ever loved a young woman and not loved in return? Maybe you had that experience. Have you loved a son or daughter who does not love you in return? It does hurt deeply. Love exists in relationship, and I think that is what you are describing. Love not returned does not stop the loving, but it hurts. Love "hopes all things, endures all things..." is a statement that love's fulfillment is in loving, but it is not complete without being in a relationship, meaning love being reciprocated. This is your argument for love's reward.

      Two people who truly love each other will bear up under a lot, hanging in there together. Trials won't stop love. It might even cause it to run deeper. The reward of love in relationship is stronger than the pain of the trials. That is an argument for love's reward.

      To serve God, because we love Him, is a reward in itself; and God also appreciates the reward of those who reciprocates His love. This is the reason that "I am going to prepare a place for you, that where I am there you will be also." This is loves reward.

      If we confuse love with selfishness, we seek to correlate two antithetical principles and motives. Selfishness serves itself only, and does not care for the other person. Selfishness hoards unto itself and not share. This is a death trap. Any river that does not give will stagnate. Any tree that does not give will die. Nature is build on the principle that everything receives to give, receives to give, receives to give. Trees, soil, water, light, animals, from microcosm to macrocosm receive to give. Selfishness breaks, counteracts that principle, receiving to hoard, to feed the self, even at the expense of the other. This is the dog eat dog world. If the trees do not give, it will die. If the water does not give, it will die.

      Love receives to give. This is the law of the universe, the principle on which "all the law and the prophets" are built. Love is the totality of God's character. God is love. It's reward is mutual. It ratifies, certifies, authenticates its existence in a bond that desires to be unending, eternal. That is God's Love, and that is the Love He wants to plant in our hearts. It is the best.

  6. Eugenson, you are right that we all want to be loved back, but loved for ourselves and not for what we have or give people. We love back because we are loved not for what we can get.

    " It is not the fear of punishment, or the hope of everlasting reward, that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Saviour's matchless love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary's cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the beholders. They hear His voice, and they follow Him." -Desire of Ages, Page 480

    Moses loved God back so much he was willing to give up his reward to honor God and save others. Exodus 32:32 Revelation 15 tells us of a whole multitude who sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. They too have had that same experience where they love God more than they love the reward of life and hate sin more than they hate death.

    • William, thanks for your response. However, I'd like to remark here as a follow up to your quote of Ellen G. White's Desire of Ages, "...They behold the Saviour's matchless love...." There you have it. If they beheld nothing desirable, they wouldn't love Him. The Saviour's matchless love was their incentive for loving the Saviour. They looked forward to the reward of benefitting from His matchless love. Isn't it clear by now that nobody loves for nothing?

      Furthermore, using the instance involving Moses in Exodus 32:32 in this matter would be a bit misleading as Moses was known to have been ruled by his emotions most of his life. In the heat of his emotions, he killed an Egyptian. On another occasion, carried away by his emotions, he irreverently broke the twin tablets bearing God's handwritten Law. In his passion, he also struck the Rock rather than speak to it as instructed, which angered God enough to shut him out of the Promised Land. He was a notably rash individual. He must have thoughtlessly requested that his life be stricken off the book of life in his passion as a leader. I'm sure when his emotions were a bit more stable, he must have trembled at the thought of his rash request and was thankful it was not granted.

      About the saints of Revelation 15, those were willing to give up their transient lives on Earth for the reward of an eternal life. You can't take the reward out of the picture, no matter how hard you try. It's just the way it is.

      • Eugenson, Moses was not just being a rash hot head when he killed the Egyptian. He followed through. while Moses may have been extreme, I don't see any inconsistency with Moses' words and actions.

        • Numbers 12:3 states: "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth"

      • Eugenson, You are right when you say "nobody loves for nothing". Everything we do whether intentional or unintentional has a reason.
        However when discussing Gods love we are entering into a realm that we do not completely understand. Our opinions are from a limited point of view. First I would like to refer to a text where Jesus pointed out that you cannot serve two masters. You will "Love" one and "Hate" the other. Luke 16:13. He was referring to money but I think Satan can be used in place of money here. Secondly I think Moses had one, if not the, most unique relationship with God of any in the Bible. He was chosen when a baby in a basket in the reeds. He grew up in an Egyptian Monarchy culture, but his faith in God was of notable strength. Hebrews 11:23-29. He talked with God face to face and had conversations similar to human conversations. Exodus 34:11-17. Yes he had human frailties like all humans, but it is believed that he is in Heaven at this time. Our opinions are just that, and most often that doesn't change. However our opinions do not insure our

      • Eugenson, you do have quite a skill in stirring things up. You quoted EGW, then commented:
        " "...They behold the Saviour's matchless love...." There you have it. If they beheld nothing desirable, they wouldn't love Him." In another response you identified "gratitude" as the "reward" or incentive. You are describing healthy love in healthy relationships flowing from healthy motives and anticipating healthy rewards. Full credit.

        By contrast, in an unhealthy situation with unhealthy motives, the "rewards" sought are unhealthy. Your thesis is not what kind of love; but establishing that there is always an anticipated response, or reward, whether healthy or unhealthy, whether true love or selfishness. It does say something that your presentation has the ability to stir a hornets nest into defending true love as presumably not seeking reward (smile).

        You got another simmering line going with your description of Moses as an emotional hot head. You do have the ability to really get a discussion going.

        God must have had incredible confidence in the real and potential meekness, integrity, conflict management skills, intelligence, leadership skills of that emotional hot head, for He chose Moses as 1) the one with the strength and courage, and also balance, to address the anticipated responses of Pharaoh on one side, and the Israelites on the other side; 2) the one to lead a stubborn, rebellious, resistant, complaining family of 2M through wilderness territory for 40 years; 3)one he could talk to face to face, unlike any other human on earth; and 4) writer, to receive the revelation of over two thousand years of history that previously did not have longevity documentation, including the now debated creation vs science propositions.

        Truthfully, I would love to be that kind of emotional hothead. Obviously my head would never become so hot that I would have to cover it with a veil for people to approach me, or so bright with the Light of God's presence that disciples of Jesus Christ would be struck unconscious.

        It is just as true that balanced interpretation and understanding of personalities must integrate the ability, the skill, the openness to recognize the identity of an individual in all its varied forms, including being aware of their weaknesses, while understanding the scaling of each element of the identity on a continuum of values. It means being balanced and responsible, with justice and equity, in how we portray the characters of all persons, including personal self assessment. If we are not balanced, we become ones who bear false witness against our neighbors, unskilled judges with uneven scales. The Holy Spirit leads us into all Truth. That is our goal.

        May God bless that sharp and critical mind of yours with the powerful guidance of the Holy Spirit, as I pray for myself, William, Inge, Robert, Sandy, George, that we indeed become the revealing Light of Christ to all. God bless.

  7. sometimes I felt jealous to those people around me who enjoyed material-abundance in life inspite of disobedien
    disobedience to the law.I thought this what the older brother is all about

  8. I feel much, much blessed from reading the whole dialogue. Greatly I cherished in the well presented journal! Honoured be our Lord Jesus Christ... And may you be greatly blessed!

  9. First time caller from Port Elizabeth South Africa.I like the courage the prodigal son had to decide to go back home when things do not go well for him.I wonder if things weren't that bad.Would he still see the need to long for home.Hunger drove him back home not the realisation of his wrong.Sometimes we need to focus on relationship and not the benefits in a relationship.

  10. Eugenson,
    Have you ever felt a true sense of gratitude towards someone for some kind deed towards you or someone else who is totally undeserving? If so, with that thought revisit that statement in desire of Ages "they behold the Savior's matchless love ..." They loved Him in gratitude not for what they will get, but for they have gotten. The heart is touched, the soul melts, tears stream from your eyes, your soul reaches out to Him not for reward, but from a thankful heart.

    • Luke, you are saying the very same thing I said. You wrote it yourself that "They loved Him in gratitude for...what they have gotten." That was what I said in my very first post. Scroll up a bit and read it. Here is me quoting myself: "Like the older son, all of God's children love Him for the many gifts they have received from Him or hope to receive from Him." I maintain that nobody loves for nothing.

      All those people who think they can be loved for who they are and not for what they have to offer are not being practical. If you love without expressing your love, your love is as good as not existing. Love becomes meaningful only when it finds expression in one form or another. It is the expression of your love in words and deeds that constitutes the reward for which you are loved back. Is that too hard to understand?

      We are loving God back because He expressed His love for us by securing our salvation on the cross in the person of His Son, Jesus. We would never have known He loved us if He didn't do something to express it. We are reciprocating because we stand to benefit from the expression of His love, which constitutes our reward. People, Nobody loves for nothing. We all love for a reward.

  11. A driving point of the parable seems to be the question whether the older brother is prepared to accept his younger brother as his brother. The father has already accepted his younger son as his son. Only in accepting his younger broter as brother would the older son accept his father as father. Christ is inviting the Pharisees and scribes to accept sinners and taxcollectors as brothers and thus accepting God as their Father. This is a crucial question even today. Should the younger brother be rejected by his older brother he could ask himself the question: Do I really belong to this family? An probably he would leave again.

    Winfried Stolpmann

    • Winfried, what strikes me is that the father didn't reaccept his son; to him his son was always his son even when he was in the far country feeding pigs. To me the party began when his youngest son came to his senses and accepted the father. That to me is where we are. Jesus reconciled us to Himself not the other way around. In other words we were the ones that need change not God. Of course all of that really isn't what the parable is about but I think it is important to recognize the reality of the situation.

      I also think the last part of your comment is something we really need to think about. What does it mean to be part of the family?

  12. These parables in Luke 15, the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost son, had a particular purpose. While a number of applications and comparisons can be made, parables were the preferred method used by Jesus to teach. Matt 13:34 says it was the only way. The purpose of these three parables is noted in Luke 15:1,2&3. It was in answer to accusations made by the scribes and the Pharisees regarding Jesus' association with tax collectors and sinners. In Luke 15:10 Jesus reemphasized the point He was making so they didn't misconstrue what He was saying.

  13. understanding God's love helps us understand what love is ,love comes from God,only through him we can understand it.Human love cannot be compared with Gods love.

    • rosely you have touched what I believe is the importance or purpose of all three parables. I believe also that Jesus used all three because they were all applicable and of equal value. The Love that you mention is beyond our human mental ability to fully grasp. Even though we know it to be agape Love, we still compare it in our minds, to human love and our human relationships. Calvary is the greatest explanation and demonstration of Gods' Love.

  14. The parable of the prodigal son; is a demonstration of two brothers in the House of God. The older; the Jews whom the apostles refer to as the children of Promise; and the younger; the Christian movements extended to us Gentiles.

    The younger brother (the Christian Movement), sought to have his share of God's inheritance; was given the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Empowered and enriched; he was sent by His Father to leave Jerusalem and venture into the whole world to sought to extend His Father's territory everywhere else; but throughout the dark and rugged ages of his mission, his possessions abused and misused to the point where; he lost every identity of His Father.

    In his case, the Father did not need to follow his son because the Father trusted that His son would extend His Kingdom wherever he went. With enough riches to build new kingdoms; the Father was pleased to bless His son's journey; and the Father reminded His son that when He needed help all he had to do was to return home; but the young Christian son was too busy trying to mingle into the life of other nations; he forgot His Father's Life and identity altogether.

    While the Father awaited the Good News of His Kingdom extended into the rest of the world; the son senselessly traded His Father's goods for pleasure; exchanged sacred holy livings for lusts and immorality. And throughout his journey through the centuries; he sold the treasures of the Kingdom of God for traditions and doctrines of man, till all that the Father trusted in Him was completely wasted.

    The young Christian son who through his rough and unpleasant journey through the dark ages, suffered immensely, that the Life of His Father almost forgotten from his lips. Then while all seemed totally hopeless, at the turn of the 17th century, the son remembered his Father's Love letter (the Scriptures), that was barely readable in his badly torn garment. As he read the faded torn pages, his spirit awoken to remember His Father's House, his Father's joy and His Father's Love.

    As the faded light of midnight drew nigh, he remembered His Father's words that Salvation was not by works but by Faith in Him alone; he made up his mind to journey back Home to his Father. With every step back Home, the Light of the Father's Kingdom brightened and Hope of new Life with the Father broadened.

    The Father knew His young son's ways that he was determine to make changes to the world around him; but he was too ignorance to recognise what needed to be changed. The Father embraced his young son in his decided attempt, to take the Father's Name into the world around Him; but the son did not see His Father's Will that He desired faith not works to accomplish His goal. The Father saw how ambitious his young Christian son was to reach the ends of the world; but the son did not think to rely on the Father's merits to accomplish his plans.

    The Father saw true determinations in his young Christian son's eyes when He wanted to go to the world; and knew how little the son know of the world he endeavoured; and knowing how cruel the world was; He promised His young son that He will be waiting for him to return. The journey was suppose to be short and quick if the son depended on the Father's wisdom; but the son loved the world more that he forgot his mission.

    The Father saw his young son's failures and weaknesses and longed to be with him to bring him back home; but the son has to first recognise that he needed help and that he desire to return Home. The Father could have gone to retrieve His son back any moment; but the son is to first identify his needs and to choose to return home in order for him to be saved.

    The Christian movements safety is our continuous effort to turn back and remember the Life of the Father; His perfect nature and His Holy Character. These we must desire with every breath of our existence that when we return to the House of Our Father; He will grant us His entitlement, His Throne.

    But the jealous brother; the Jews, they never left Jerusalem, nor did they chose to wonder away from maintaining the Father's identity; His Law, His Sabbath, His commands and His ways; "As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs." (Romans 11: 28).

    Since the Father spent His whole life waiting and expecting His Christian son to return to His House to be adorned with the Fullness of the Righteousness of the Father, the Jews was very jealous; "For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness." (Romans 10:2).

    The children of Israel are the chosen mortal firstborn of God; yet we who were adopted through the Righteous blood of His Son Jesus Christ, have been included; and yet we were the ones who wondered away. But the Father loves His Christian son so much that He will wait for us to return so He may adorn us with His own Righteous Robe of Righteousness.

  15. Vulauno, Very innovative in developing your own parable of two global prodigals, the Jewish nation and the Christian Church. Of course it is not the parable that Jesus Christ gave of the ever hopeful, ever anticipating, ever loving and forgiving Father; so I am not assuming the significant effort to attempt a correlation. I just want to wish you God's blessing as you venture further in developing your parable.

    God bless.

  16. I personally believe that God knew exactly what He wanted to communicate and teach; so He went back to Heaven, offering His own prayer to our Father to send the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, and bring to our remembrance what He taught. I believe that His instruction to the Holy Spirit is explicit, and He really wants us to understand what He taught, so we can understand Him and the Father. I believe that our human attempts to change His message will always be inferior to what He taught, belittles what He intended to teach us, and definitely was not what He said the Holy Spirit was assigned to do.

    I believe that the Holy Spirit wants me to understand what Jesus taught, and I would like the Holy Spirit to teach me what Father and Son truly want me to know. I pray.

    • Hurford, to me the prayer you have is about as good a prayer as we can have outside of doing what is done in Heaven.

      • Tyler, we join together in this prayer, knowing that our mutual agreement to know and to do His will, as it is in Heaven, is guaranteed by the Words of Jesus Christ and His sending of the Holy Spirit. Thank you.


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