And he said, A certain man had two sons:…
Some years ago I preached to my congregation in Liverpool, one Lord's Day morning, from this episode in the parable of the Prodigal Son. As I was leaving the church for my home, I was requested to visit a dying man whom I had seen frequently before, but who was just then, apparently, about to pass within the veil. He had been for many years a careless and irreligious man; but as I spoke with him from time to time, I marked that a great change had come over him. I had conversed faithfully and earnestly with him, of Jesus and His salvation; and he had turned in sincere penitence to his Father, and was, as I sincerely believe, accepted with Him. When I entered his room that morning, I found him in great happiness, rejoicing in the near prospect of being with his Lord, and apparently perfectly happy. I talked with him a little on the things of the kingdom, and after prayer I took my leave. His brother-in-law followed me downstairs, and said, "I cannot understand this at all. Here have I been serving Christ for these twenty years, and I have never experienced such joy as he expresses; and yet he has not been a Christian, if he be really one, for more than a few weeks." Immediately I recognized the elder brother, and I stayed long enough to show him just how he looked in the light of this parable. I told him that I had been preaching about him that very morning. "About me?" he said. "Yes, about you"; and I then went on to explain to him the meaning of this episode, while I warned him of the danger of being angry, and refusing to go into the Father's house to share the joy over the returning prodigal. The result was that he saw his error, and was delivered from his envy. Now, that incident, occurring just at that precise time, has given a new point to the parable in my view ever since, and makes me far more anxious to get the elder-brotherliness out of my own heart than to identify the elder brother with any particular class.
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he said, A certain man had two sons: