Which Son Are You?

In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moving to the piano. He whispered in the boy’s ear, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.” Then leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began creating a bass part. With his right hand he added a running obligato. Together they performed a duet for the ages.

So it is with our performance on the instrument built by our Father. As we work he works. What we create is far less our ability and far more his. He does so much more with us than we can do for him. Our job is simply to be obedient, to play in gratitude for his grace, and to trust his hands to do the rest.

The father gave to his older son what was not his, just as he did so for the younger. Neither of them earned life, care, or compassion. Neither created the wealth he inherited. Neither deserved the compassion he received. Both were called to work with the father—not from obligation but gratitude.

What motivates you to teach your class? To give your time and abilities and finances to God’s Kingdom? To study this lesson?

The second lesson: give to others what you have received. Extend to others the grace God has given to you. You have received the blessing of God. Now give to a prodigal what the Father has bestowed on you.

Grady Nutt was a wonderful Christian comic and a deeply devoted believer. In college I heard him tell this week’s parable, and ask this question: If you were the prodigal, who would you want to greet you at the gate—the father or the older brother?

We have studied the two sons of Jesus’ famous parable. Which are you—the prodigal in the far country, squandering all God has given you in rebellion? Perhaps. But it is more likely that someone reading this commentary to prepare a Sunday school lesson is tempted to be the older brother. Serving in the fields, working for the Father. Will you give the grace of God to those entrusted to your care this week? Will they see the compassion, acceptance, and love of your Lord? Will you give what you have been given?

The famous preacher Samuel Chadwick once announced to his congregation, “I am going to preach on the third Son in the parable of the prodigal son” (cited in Morgan 266). Who is the third? The one who taught this parable. The one who sings with his Father when a prodigal comes home. Will you join his song?