The Berean Expositor
Volume 33 - Page 108 of 253
Index | Zoom
The Two Sons (Luke 15: 11).
pp. 7, 8
"A certain man had two sons" (Luke 15: 11). With similar words, a parable is
introduced in Matt. 21: There, the two sons are called upon by their father to work in
his vineyard, and the point of the parable is the nature of their response. The first said, "I
will not, but afterward, he repented and went"; the second said, "I go sir: and went not".
Not a word of censure is given to the first son's initial refusal to go to the work, attention
on the contrary, being focused upon the fact that ultimately he repented and went. So
also in the parable of the prodigal son. The father utters no word of censure upon the
ingratitude or stupidity of his erring son, but rejoices in his return and welcomes him
home with open arms.
A superficial judgment would say that this is putting a premium upon sin. It is the
elder brother who recalls his younger brother's sins and asserts his own rectitude:
"Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy
commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my
friends. But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with
harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf" (Luke 15: 29, 30).
Those "many years of service", that constant observance of the father's
commandments, find an echo in Phil. 3: where the Apostle says, "Touching the
righteousness of the law--blameless". But instead of holding fast to this, he now counts
it but dung, as compared with the finding of his all in Christ.
At the close of the parable of the lost sheep with which Luke 15: opens, we read:--
"I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth,
more than ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance" (Luke 15: 7).
Here again it would be easy to slip into the error of thinking that true righteousness is
discounted and that a premium is put upon sin. That, however, is not the case. It is the
kind of righteousness of the law and of the flesh;  a righteousness that never
acknowledges its abject need of grace and of the Saviour's love. The theme is presented
once more in Luke, in the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. The Pharisee was
most certainly "not as other men are", otherwise he could not have belonged to "the
straitest sect of the Jews' religion"; he was not an extortioner, unjust, nor an adulterer, all
of which can be taken at its full value. He was most certainly not "as this Publican". Yet
we know the conclusion. We know the Lord's solemn verdict.
"I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for
everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be
exalteth" (Luke 18: 14).