A tale of 3 sons
This is a story loosely related to the parable of the prodigal son that we read in Luke 15. It goes like this: ‘In the beginning Father God had three sons – two of them were sons of the earth – children of his creation – the third was begotten from God’s eternal nature – very much God!! The younger son on earth forgot about his true home and through the pride and selfishness sank into shame….and the older son of the earth – although aware of something eternal in his nature, began to despise his brother, and so he grew hard and judgmental in his heart because of his self-righteous pride…
Then there was the son in heaven – who had spent eternity in his father’s joy – but they were saddened when they thought of the children of earth. One day the father said, “I will send my eternal son to seek them”, and the son said, “I will go to find my brothers and bring them home…so my father will no longer be grieving over them.” So, the eternal son became a human and walked the roads of earth – eventually he found the younger prodigal, ate his husks, and shared his shame; but the prodigal was deaf. “You’re no brother of mine”, he said, and “God is only a name!” So, God’s eternal son went and searched out the elder brother. He had become a prominent person in the church; but he was also hard hearted. “Why are you looking for my younger brother?” He demanded bitterly. “He always wastes everything he’s given – and you aren’t any better!”
Then something terrible happened… The two prodigals – although conflicting – took God’s eternal son and killed him – for his life and light caused them pain. In the hate that a hunger and desire for something better can sometimes bring, the two prodigal brothers killed the son of eternity on a cross. But even as they tortured their brother, he forgave them and prayed for them as he died.
The younger prodigal was touched by what he had seen, and said, “I would have returned to Father God if I had not killed his eternal son…what will I do now?” In a similar way the older prodigal said, “I never knew how special I really was until I saw how much he loved…but now I have killed him…what will I do?” But as they pondered their guilt…and the depths to which they had fallen…something stirred – something deep beyond their understanding – for God’s eternal son broke the shackles of sin and death and rose from the dead. The grave could not imprison his great love – and both of his brothers knew that no matter what life would bring, he was with them.’
This story echoes Jesus’ words and reminds us that the parable of the prodigal has two responses:
- The repentant sinner, who left behind self-will and self-loathing and remembered the way back home. He found forgiveness, restoration and hope.
- The older son, whose choices never lead him physically away from God. But responded in self-pity, self-righteousness, legalism and judgment.
Pride is death, and the older prodigal was a prodigal in his heart, yet still the father gently offers him love, value and community. But what the son does with it remains a mystery. Both sons acted badly towards the father and needed to repent. But the parable of the prodigal sons in not a full theology – because it doesn’t contain an understanding of sacrifice or the atoning act of Jesus death to restore the prodigals back to relationship with God. But by inserting the cross – and the role that the sons of the earth had in putting Christ to death…the story takes a different perspective – because neither prodigal is innocent in this story…their sin is to reject such a great love that God offers through Jesus…
But death could not onto hold Jesus, justice had been served. But because of his innocence; his love: his light and life – death was rendered impotent. It was powerless to hold him and he burst free and disarmed the enemy! By doing this he gives us back all that we have lost – our identity as sons and daughters of God; our hope – both now and for ever…our purpose…but what we do with that gift is our choice…it’s part of the story that is yet to be written…