Prodigal Son Story: How About The Son That Stayed Home?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by eightball, Apr 13, 2009.

  1. eightball

    eightball
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    In recent times, I've pondered more about the story by Jesus of the Prodigal Son.

    I often wonder if us Christians and even a lot of preachers have missed something here, and it's that "obedient" son that stayed home, and didn't run off.

    I put "obedient" in quotes because I think this son might have had a much more unhealthy spiritual condition than our wayward prodigal son. I als think that Jesus wanted us to think about that "goodie two shoes" son a little more than I think we do.

    I think the folks, that listened to His story 2,000 year back probably weren't too much different from us, and thought the story centered on the Prodigal, and the "obedient" son had his hangups, but he was far from as messed-up as his prodigal brother.
    *****
    Maybe all you folks already caught this, and I'm just running behind a lot of you scholars and laymen/women, but that stay-at-home son, bothered me, cause I think this young man's soul was possibly harder to crack than his brother's.

    First of all, he seemed to interpret sonship as fullfilling every jot and tittle or rules that his father exacted in the household for a son of his. In fact this young son was galled, that this other son, who obviously defied his father, and most likely wasn't Mr. Obedient at home, was welcomed as though he were Mr. Perfect.

    This "obedient" son in my observations, seemed to have a skewed understanding of love, or maybe more specifically the type of love that is expressed that is blind to past sin, and actions of life that aren't endearing to a father/parent.

    This "obedient" son seemed to define love with obedience, yet lacked the spirit of where obedience should come from in one's actions. This reminds me of that N.T. verse where, we Christians go round and round concerning works and faith. A saving faith, or true conversion, will afterwards, and in time, reveal itself in works, that are not "forced" or engendered to promote "acceptance" by one's focus or object of love.

    This may be a stretch, but we have two cats at home. One cat is easy going, not intense in anyway. He loves to be petted and scratched behind the ear, and will give you a little kiss/licky on the hand in thanks. The other cat seems to be starved for attention and love, and will just plain make a nuisance of itself trying to climb on your lap, and doing all kinds of actions to get your attention. This cat never stops wanting to be petted or scratched. It would expect it 24 hours a day. The first cat lets you fawn ove him for a little while then he walks off, totally at peace and satisfied.

    Also when these two cats are near each other, the easy going, independent cat will try to groom the acceptance-needy cat, and will often get hissed at or slapped with a paw. This needy cat will also push the other cat aside to get our attention, and often if it sees the easy going cat getting petted will run over and get in between. Jealousy even in 4 legged creatures.
    ******
    Anyway, one cat seems very satisfied with life and his position in life, and the other one seems to need, need, need, and it's neve enough. It also is very jealous of the one that is easy going.
    *****
    There's some kind of dynamic here. I know people and cats are different, but for simplicity's sake, there is a parallel that I see here.
    *******
    That stay at home son, I perceive to some extent to be our Christian brothers and sisters that live on a treadmill of needy acceptance from their Father above, and possibly their fellow Christian brothers and sisters. Psalms 46:10 simply says, "Cease striving and know that I am God...", Another translation says, "Be still and know that I am God..."

    Do you see where I'm coming from or why I keyed-in on the stay at home son? This son, I believe is to be most pitied! He has it all. He has his father right there in front of him. He has security of a nice home with his father. He has an inheritance from his father; and most especially, his father loves him dearly. Yet, this son is upset, and not at peace with this positional standing that he holds with his father in his father's house? This son sadly has interpretted his relationship with his father as an out-working of deeds, and obedience, that clearly isn't being done from a standpoint of knowing he's loved all along by his father, regardless of his deeds/obedience.

    What a sad and most miserable existence! Yet, we 21st century Christians are plagued by the same disorders. Not all of us, but many. We have interpretted our earthly parental growing up/relationship, as the norm for how God expresses his parental relationship to us. Our parents are not perfect, yet they did the best they could, and some didn't too. Never the less, God presents a paradyme that is diametrically opposed in many cases to how we were raised as children, into adults. If we got A's in school we got treated to money or special things. If we got C's we were told to do better. In our childlike minds we interpretted "doing better" with being "more acceptable".

    In God's economy, one who get's A's in bible school might get a D+ with God, yet the C bible student might have an A with God. One of my bible school profs. told my theololgy class that on our first day of school. That was profound!

    God's love isn't based on performance. It's based on a relational paradyme!

    Remember Mary and Martha? Remember when Jesus was visiting and going to dine at their house? Remember how Martha was perturbed at Mary for not helping in the kitchen, as she/Mary was sitting at Christ's feet listening to Him teach and talk? Jesus gently scolded Martha, and told her that Mary was not doing anything wrong. She was soaking-up all she could of Jesus' presence in her life. The food could wait, the dirty dishes could wait. Jesus trumped it all.

    The poor "obedient" son was the antithesis of Mary. He in some ways exemplified the "Martha" complex or scenario. He was missing the best part, yet didn't realize it at all.
    *******
    Well, I'm done.

    No doubt many of you have different "takes" on this parable. Anyway, this is what that parable spoke to my soul.

    I guess some day, Jesus will fill us in on the whole story, and they the debates will come to an end. ;)
    *******
     
  2. Marcia

    Marcia
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    My pastor's message on this passage is really good. The older son is the one who does everything right outwardly and expects to get the love for his works, but his heart is in the wrong place because he's doing it all for recognition. His true nature is shown when we see him being jealous of the younger brother coming home and getting a feast, instead of rejoicing with the father.

    The older son is "religious" and lives by works, as you say "performance," and not inner conviction and love.

    Btw, just fyi, most people will not read such a long post as you have above. I scanned it but didn't have time to read it.
     
  3. FriendofSpurgeon

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    Me too. I hardly ever read such long threads. Glad I read this one -- very good. Totally on target.

    I've heard some say that the first son is picture of a nonbeliever. After all, he does not attend the feast. Not sure if I would go that far, but sure is something to think about. Are we performance driven or grace driven??
     
  4. EdSutton

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    FTR, I did read the post. eightball, I have had many cats over the years, including more than one that would actually lay in someone's lap or on them, for hours. Ive had multiple cats that would actually ride on my shoulder, as I walked, or follow me ablmost anywhere I walked. Never have I seen one that was the constant aggravation you describe, demanding full-time attention, unless the food and/or water dish was actually empty.

    As to the text, first-off, this is not a parable but an account. See here,

    http://www.baptistboard.com/showpost.php?p=1351817&postcount=2

    here,

    http://www.baptistboard.com/showpost.php?p=821354&postcount=94

    and here.

    http://www.baptistboard.com/showpost.php?p=977244&postcount=168

    This should give my answer to the rest of your post, I'd say, even if the linked posts are too long for Marcia to read. ;)

    Ed
     
  5. Marcia

    Marcia
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    I think my pastor was equating the older son to the Jews who lived righteously in an outward way and following the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law. I am not sure, but I think I recall him saying that.
     
  6. EdSutton

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    I am here going to repeat something I said, three months ago, just to see if it draws any more reaction, this time around.

    Ed
     
  7. I Am Blessed 24

    I Am Blessed 24
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    The older son reminds me of the Pharisees that Christ likened to tombstones (white on the outside but filled with dead men's bones). His works were his salvation (he thought). I also believe the father was hoping his stay-at-home son would realize this by the way the prodigal was treated when he came home with a humble attitude.

    Ed: It depends on which definition of prodigal you are using. Lavish - yes. Waster - no.
     
  8. Amy.G

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    I agree with what Blessed said.

    The son that stayed home represented the Pharisees that were so self righteous and the wayward son represented the dirty rotten sinners that Jesus always welcomed when they came to Him in repentance. The Pharisees resented the fact that those "sinners" got so much of Jesus' attention while He was rebuking them for being white washed tombs, vipers, and sons of the devil.
     
  9. eightball

    eightball
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    Don't forget that the son that stayed at home was still a "son" to that father, only he had a very skewed understanding of love, and acceptance.

    To make that son to be the metaphorical representation of the Pharisee, might not quite fit. The Pharisee's represented not only legalism, but also the unsaved. There is no sonship when one is not saved.

    Though, I may be splitting hairs here too much. ;) :BangHead:

    Jesus loved/loves both the saved and the lost, so that stay at home son could metaphorically represent the unsaved Jew that had been given the Law, and had so much contact and heritage from their relationship with God, yet didn't get it, when it came to the relational or saving faith that God offered.

    God, in the O.T. did call the wandering Israelites His people. They were stiff necked, and grumbled, and often lacked faith to proceed ahead, yet God did not abandon them as a nation. He did however exact extreme punishment on those that rebelled, or turned away from Him.

    Maybe the stay at home son represents the nation of Israel, and the prodigal represents the work of the H.S. in the gentile nations. We do know that the Jews, both converted and not resented the converted gentiles.

    In Galatians we have what Paul termed Judiazers, who were believing Jews who tried to "yoke" the Galatian gentile believers with legalism in order to be accepted as believers.

    Paul even said that God's move to the gentiles was to induce in the Jew's jealousy, and thus draw them to salvation. I guess we might call that the church age?
     
  10. FriendofSpurgeon

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    That's the issue that I have with him not being a believer.
     
  11. Martin Luther

    Martin Luther
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    I have often wondered if the good son might be the angels that kept their first estate. They seem to show the some of the same attitudes as in these verses.



    1 Peter 1:12

    Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.


    Hebrews 2:5-7

    5For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.

    6But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?

    7Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:
     
  12. jofuss

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    Here's a quote from "Christ's Object Lessons" by Ellen White, pages 209-211.

    Was the elder brother brought to see his own mean, ungrateful spirit? Did he come to see that though his brother had done wickedly, he was his brother still? Did the elder brother repent of his jealousy and hardheartedness? Concerning this, Christ was silent. For the parable was still enacting, and it rested with His hearers to determine what the outcome should be.

    By the elder son were represented the unrepenting Jews of Christ's day, and also the Pharisees in every age, who look with contempt upon those whom they regard as publicans and sinners. Because they themselves have not gone to great excesses in vice, they are filled with self-righteousness. Christ met these cavilers on their own ground. Like the elder son in the parable, they had enjoyed special privileges from God. They claimed to be sons in God's house, but they had the spirit of the hireling. They were working, not from love, but from hope of reward. In their eyes, God was an exacting taskmaster. They saw Christ inviting publicans and sinners to receive freely the gift of His grace--the gift which the rabbis hoped to secure only by toil and penance--and they were offended. The prodigal's return, which filled the Father's heart with joy, only stirred them to jealousy.

    In the parable the father's remonstrance with the elder son was Heaven's tender appeal to the Pharisees. "All that

    Page 210
    I have is thine"--not as wages, but as a gift. Like the prodigal, you can receive it only as the unmerited bestowal of the Father's love.
    Self-righteousness not only leads men to misrepresent God, but makes them coldhearted and critical toward their brethren. The elder son, in his selfishness and jealousy, stood ready to watch his brother, to criticize every action, and to accuse him for the least deficiency. He would detect every mistake, and make the most of every wrong act. Thus he would seek to justify his own unforgiving spirit. Many today are doing the same thing. While the soul is making its very first struggles against a flood of temptations, they stand by, stubborn, self-willed, complaining, accusing. They may claim to be children of God, but they are acting out the spirit of Satan. By their attitude toward their brethren, these accusers place themselves where God cannot give them the light of His countenance.

    Many are constantly questioning, "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil?" But "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Micah 6:6-8.

    This is the service that God has chosen--"to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke, . . . and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh." Isa. 58:6, 7. When you see yourselves as sinners saved only by the love of your heavenly Father, you will have tender pity for others who are suffering in sin. You will no longer meet misery and repentance with jealousy and censure.

    Page 211
    When the ice of selfishness is melted from your hearts, you will be in sympathy with God, and will share His joy in the saving of the lost.
    It is true that you claim to be a child of God; but if this claim be true, it is "thy brother" that was "dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found." He is bound to you by the closest ties; for God recognizes him as a son. Deny your relationship to him, and you show that you are but a hireling in the household, not a child in the family of God.

    Though you will not join in the greeting to the lost, the joy will go on, the restored one will have his place by the Father's side and in the Father's work. He that is forgiven much, the same loves much. But you will be in the darkness without. For "he that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." 1 John 4:8.
     
  13. eightball

    eightball
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    Though I'm not an Ellen White fan(7th Day Adventist Prophetess), her "take" on the Prodigal seems pretty good in my estimation.

    Never the less, the father still reminds the stay-at-home son that he's not to worry, and sends a message that this jealous son has an inheritance. The Pharisee's and unbelieving Jews did not have an inheritance until they became converted/saved.
     
    #13 eightball, Apr 20, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2009
  14. Debby in Philly

    Debby in Philly
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    I can't believe there are so many takes on this!
    I've always thought (and was probably taught) that the elder son is the picture of those of us who are saved and don't stray, but work faithfully in the kingdom for many years. When we see the fuss made over those dramatic stories of repentence and returning to the Lord, we tend to get jealous and wonder if our work has been noticed at all. But the Father assures us that our work is indeed noticed and reminds us of our place in the Kingdom to come.
     

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