And he said, A certain man had two sons:…
There is sufficient Pharisaism in each of us to justify the application of this to ourselves. They who have long served God with care and diligence, and yet find their life a hard struggle, with few bright passages, many disappointments, and never joy such as the penitent at once enters into, naturally feel some soreness that one step should bring a lifelong sinner abreast of them. You may have been striving all your days to be useful, and making great sacrifices to further what you believe to be the cause of God, and yet you cannot point to any success; but suddenly a man converted yesterday takes your place, and all things seem to shape themselves to his hand, and the field that was a heart-break to you is fertile to him. You have denied yourself every pleasure that you might know the happiness of communion with God, and you have not known it, but you see a banquet spread in God's presence for him who has till this hour been delighting in sin. You have had neither the riotous living nor the fatted calf. You have gone among the abandoned and neglected, and striven to enlighten and lift them; you have done violence to your own feelings that you might be helpful to others; and, so far as you can see, nothing has come of it. But another man who has lived irregularly, who has not prepared himself for the work, who is untaught, imprudent, unsatisfactory, has the immediate joy of winning souls to God. Have you not been tempted to say, "Verily, I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency"? All this may be needful to convince you that it is not service that wins God's love; that His love is with you now, and that your acceptance of it will make all that has seemed to you grievous to be light and happy. Take refuge from all failure and disappointment in the words, "Son, I am ever with thee, and all that I have is thine." Learn to find your joy in Him, and you will be unable to think of any reward.
(Marcus Dods, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he said, A certain man had two sons: