News Features Mentor's Corner The Prodigal Son


By Pastor Calvary Callender

I was reading through the story Jesus told about the Prodigal son in the Bible's book of Luke. Most of us know the story well. There was a man who had two sons. One of them, the younger son decided that he wanted his portion of their inheritance immediately. When the father gave him his portion, he took it and squandered the money. When he had lost everything, to the point he was so hungry that he was eating with the pigs, he decided he should go back home. When the father saw his prodigal son returning home, he ran down the road to meet him and threw a big party for him. As I was reading, though, I was struck by something I hadn't paid much attention to before...the elder brother. When the elder brother figured out what was going on and that his father was throwing a party for the prodigal son, Luke says that he "Became angry and refused to go in [to the party]." Jesus is using the elder brother in this story to illustrate the Pharisees. You see the Pharisees had a religion of good works. By their fasting, studying, praying, and giving, they hoped to earn blessings from God and merit eternal life. When they saw Jesus receiving and forgiving non-religious people, they rebelled against it. They didn't like it at all! We may be experts at following the rules of religion, but if we are out of fellowship with God, we cannot be in fellowship with our brothers and sisters; and if we are unforgiving towards others, we cannot be in communion with God. Jesus came and railed against the rules of organized religion for the entirety of his ministry. It's not about rules, but a relationship with Christ. You see, as we develop a relationship with Jesus, we want to do right...we want to do what Jesus wants. We must be careful not to be like the elder brother and fall into the trap of religion, but we must focus on loving God and others.

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