Tale of Three Sons

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:

  1. The repentant sinner, who left behind self-will and self-loathing and remembered the way back home. He found forgiveness, restoration and hope.
  2. 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…

God bless,

Tim Winslade

Inside Out

Inside Out

How do you know someone’s story is true? By what standards do we judge a person’s evidence. This is a question that has plagued the judicial system for thousands of years. The Bible standard is seen in Deuteronomy 19:15, which says that the testimony of one witness was not enough to convict a person of a crime, but their evidence must be corroborated by others (a minimum of 2-3 witnesses). In the same way, the stories about Jesus hold more validity because there are many witnesses.

Just look at the gospel accounts. Matthew, Mark and Luke are known as the synoptic gospels. A synopsis is a general overview – and the 3 synoptic gospels all give an overview of Jesus life and ministry. It’s remarkable how similar they are and even though they were written for different audiences at different times in the first half century after Jesus’ resurrection they confirm many of the key aspects of Jesus’ ministry.

One such account is the today’s reading which we call the transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36). All three gospels place Jesus with three of his disciples on a mountain side. What we read demonstrated to three witnesses (Peter, James and John) who Jesus claimed to be. These men were human witnesses to the glory of God that was revealed in Christ. For a moment they saw Jesus for who he really was, as the glory of the God radiated from the inside out. But there were also three heavenly witnesses present at this event: Moses, Elijah and the voice of God from heaven. Therefore, the Old Testament law that required 3 witnesses to attest to a fact, was satisfied both on earth and in heaven.

The word ‘transfigured; comes from the Greek, “metamorpho” which means to transform (meta – change; morphe – form). The word is a verb that means to change into another form. It also means to change the outside to match the inside. Up until then, Jesus’ divine nature was “veiled” (Hebrews 10:20) in human form and the transfiguration was a glimpse of that glory. Therefore, the transfiguration of Jesus Christ displayed the presence of God, dwelling with people through presence of his incarnate son.

The transfiguration of Jesus Christ was a unique display of His divine character and a glimpse of the glory, which Jesus had before He came to earth in human form. The Apostle Paul’s wrote,

 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form (morphe) of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form (morphe) of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).

We are encouraged to be like Jesus. To be transformed from the inside out. Romans 12:2 says that transformation changes the way we think and act and as we follow the example of Jesus, we too can reflect something of God’s glory to those around us.

God bless,

Tim Winslade