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Continuation of the Parable of the Elder Son, part 3

With hesitant steps, the elder brother moved towards his father, trying to grasp it, grace. Yet, as he drew nearer, the weight of pride held him back, an invisible barrier he couldn’t breach. He wrestled the conflicting emotions, torn between the allure of recognition and the whisper of humility.

Somewhere within, a voice of irony questioned his own worthiness of love and acceptance. He felt inadequate, unworthy of the grace that seemed to embrace his younger brother so freely. The scars of self-doubt gnawed at his soul, a relentless reminder of his imperfections. He felt this way his whole life, but hid it.

“I don’t deserve grace,” the voice whispered, “for I am not enough, not as I am.”

Reason waged war against this internal struggle, offering explanations and justifications for his self-perceived inadequacies. “I’ve kept the commandments, all of them from my youth, I’ve tried, and I’ve done what was asked of me.” “I’ve tried. I’ve tried.”

“I’ve tried my hardest, my brother hasn’t”.

In the midst of the celebration, the elder son stood within arms reach of his father, yet he hesitated. With a heavy heart, he turned away, leaving the festival behind.

“Your grace is insufficient”, for me.

(story to be continued…..)

This is the end of Part One of this Modern Retelling of the Parable of the Prodigal Sons.

It is likely that we will continue the story and at some point create a part two, a sequel, but that really depends on whether there is enough interest.

Here is a short summary of one interpretation of the meaning of this parable.

In his profound book The Prodigal God, pastor Timothy Keller analyzes the famous parable, revealing that there are not just one but two lost sons.

The younger son is the obvious prodigal, rebelling and leaving home for a distant land. But Keller insightfully sees that the elder brother is also alienated from the father’s love, despite staying home and following all the rules.

Keller explains how the elder brother mentality divides the world into “us versus them” – the moral churchgoers versus the problems out there. The younger brothers do the same, just with different categories. They see the open-minded as in, the bigoted as out.

But Jesus reveals that it is the humble who are accepted by God, and the proud who are rejected – regardless of outward obedience. The elder brothers follow moral laws not out of love, but as leverage to control God and put Him in their debt.

In the end, both sons are estranged from their father’s grace. The father must actively go out and invite each back to his feast of love. The prodigal repents, but the elder brother self-righteously refuses. Jesus provocatively leaves him outside, challenging the judgmental Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day.

Through this retelling, Keller calls all of us to examine our own hearts – to humbly receive the outrageous grace of God, not cling to pride or moral accomplishment. In short, Jesus is redefining everything we thought we knew about connecting to God. He is redefining sin, what it means to be lost, and what it means to be saved.

The End.