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Monday, April 4, 2011

Rustler Article for 4.7.11

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about older brothers and younger brothers lately, mostly in relation to a sermon I recently preached on the story of the Two Brothers (also known as the parable of the prodigal son).
It should be clear that the parable is not entirely about the younger brother, who goes off and squanders his inheritance. We must see that Jesus leaves the parable open-ended with the older brother, arms crossed and red from anger, standing in the shadows outside the party of redemption.
It is the self-righteous among the family of God who are left standing in the evening air complaining about how good they’ve been to God who will ultimately be left out of his celebration of grace.
One thought on this that I think is pertinent to our discipleship: whether we are older brothers or younger brothers, we all fall into the trap of looking for God’s salvation through our works. For the younger brother it was the penitent act of asking forgiveness for his sinful acts, which he planned to “work off” by being one of his father’s hired men. For the older son it was the constant, faithful obedience to God’s laws and morality through which he hoped to be included.
Neither licentious behavior nor slavish morality will convince God to save us; rather it is God’s grace extended to all of us that gives us what Paul calls “the hope of the resurrection.” I pray we’re wise enough to know that salvation is by grace through faith whether we’re the good sons and daughters or the rebels looking for a way to come back home.

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