A Father and Two Sons


“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.” Luke 15:18-19

One of Rembrandt’s paintings is called The Return of the Prodigal Son. The group of characters in his painting included the prodigal son, the father, and the older brother. It is common for people to identify with the two sons. We are much like them. They both had a measure of prodigality; both needed reconciliation, and both needed to return to their father’s heart.

REMBRANDT_the_Prodigal_SonbwThe younger son lived a life of public sin. His selfishness showed itself in open, bold, in-your-face rebellion. The older brother’s sin was more secret, more subtle. Only God and people who are close to us can detect this measure of sin in us. Rembrandt exposed the older brother’s sin by painting him with an emotionless expression as the father lavished love, forgiveness, and generosity on the repentant son.

We are sinners in need of God’s salvation, so we should identify with both sons. But as people wanting to reconcile with our fellow brothers and sisters, we must also become like the father. The father’s heart is to seek and to save that which is lost. He desires to have us back home with him—safe and sound. His actions, emotions, and words displayed an overwhelming love.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” And they began to celebrate (Luke 15:20-24, ESV).

Reconciliation will occur when we, like the father, grieve over lost relationships, give extravagantly, and forgive unconditionally. When we weep over the sin and the sufferings of lost people and lost relationships, then we will become like the father.

 Walter Harvey

PONDER: In what ways do you identify with either or both of the sons, and how can you become more like the father?

Comments welcome below.

Past days’ readings HERE.

To receive RECONCILE and later Elmbrook devotionals in your inbox, sign up HERE.

6 thoughts on “A Father and Two Sons”

  1. My sister has always been mean spirited towards me, never is happy at work takes over grabs papers from my hands etc. through the teachings of Christ Jesus I was always nice I turned th either cheek. Until a couple of months aho I found myself talking badly of her to others, I had become mean towards her. One night my heart was heavy and I prayed to The Lord and I cried, this is not me Lord, how can get her to love me? The Lord told showed me her pain, I literally felt and saw the pain she carried all of her guilt through the years her shame. I cried so hard Instead of hatred was replaced with love pure love. That night and when I thought of her I asked the Lord for her protection, and placed her in white light and I thought of her and I laughing and loving one another.
    The Miracle- my sister came to work put her arms sound me and told me she loved me! Through the last week or so it is exactly how I had envisioned. And I still continue to send her love through my heart despite all she has done to me I love her and will continue to use Jesus love to heal our relationship.

    Thank you Lord Jesus for loving myself and my sister and for showing me love is greater than hatred.


    1. Amazing story Charleen ! The power of Love and the Lord. We can all learn something from this. We hope you will always be happy together.

  2. I have always associated with the older son, as my brother has been the one making consistently bad life choices, and my parents over and over again enabling him in those choices. I have felt the pain of being “the responsible one” as his bad choices have garnered my parents focus and attention. Lord, soften my heart towards my brother. Let us all have a full measure of Your heart towards us as we face and seek reconciliation with others.

  3. well I can’t identify with the sons but with the father, as my two daughters “prefer” not to see me. I have learned to live with that and to understand how that could happen. Even if sometimes the pain is harder than usual, I let my heart open for their returning and pray each night that God may guide them. To help you understand : I am 66, they are 45 and 42.

  4. Father, I want your heart, a heart that grieves over lost relationships. A heart that is committed to doing all that it can to reconcile. Like you Holy Father, I want to weep over sin, sufferings, lost people and broken relationships. Let this attitude be so strong in me that I will look to forgive unconditionally…
    Lord Jesus, I don’t deserve your love and yet your grace has always been there despite my rebellious tendencies. So Lord how can I have the audacity to refuse the reconciliation attempts by my fellow brother or sister. Lord I want to seek out opportunities to reconcile and overwhelm those that are in the most need with unconditional love and forgiveness…
    Holy Spirit, I realize when I refuse to reconcile, I commit one of the most heinous of sins… When I refuse reconciliation, I am not only telling my brother or sister that they do not deserve my love, as I your disciple, I’m telling them they don’t deserve “Your Love”… Oh Lord, may this sin against you “NEVER” be seen in me again…
    Lord God, have mercy on me and my failings…
    Lord God, the season of obedience is here…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap