|A farmer had two
sons. The eldest worked with his father learning how to run the
farm. The second son was studying at an Agricultural College. When
he returned with his degree, he had several new ideas that would
improve the farm operation. The father sent his son out onto the
farm to work with his older brother. As they were working, he
tried to tell his brother about the latest ideas and how things
should be done. The elder son became angry and killed his
"know all" brother.
When the father discovered what had
happened, he had no choice but to call the police. The oldest son
was arrested and the court sentenced him to 20 years in prison. He
was incarcerated in a high security prison thousands of miles away
from where his father lived. The prison clothes were uncomfortable
and the food was terrible, so life for the son in prison was very
miserable. His father could have provided him with
food and clothing, but this was not allowed. The elder son was cut
off from his fatherís abundance.
The father could not manage the farm on
his own. He found a younger beggar in the town and adopted him as
a son. The father taught him how to be a farmer, as they worked
the land together. The adopted son studied the younger brotherís
college notes. He learned an applied the new methods so the
farm prospered. However, the farm was too large for two men, so
they were never able to bring it to the full potential.
In jail, the oldest son became extremely
angry with his father. He was angry because his father had
reported him to the police. He became even more angry when he
heard that his father had given his inheritance to his adopted
brother (this was not true, the adopted son would only inherit the dead brotherís
One day the adopted brother and a friend
travelled to visit the older brother in prison. He was still angry
and started "mouthing off" about his father. The friend
was so upset that he punched the imprisoned brother and gave him a
black eye. This really spoilt the relationship. The older brother
began to hate his adopted brother. The adopted son decided that
his brother was not worth the trouble and that he would have
nothing more to do with him.
When the older brother was fifteen years
into his sentence, he was moved to a low security prison closer to
his home. The father still loved his son and longed to bless him,
but his son was angry and would have nothing to do with him. So
the father asked his adopted son to visit his brother. He told him
how much he loved him and that when his sentence was finished, he
wanted to set him up on the land again. He explained that he
wanted the two brothers to work together and that the oldest son
would still inherit his half of the farm. For the first time the
son saw his brother through his fatherís eyes.
When the adopted son visited his brother
in prison, he was filled with love and compassion for him. He
began to bring his gifts of food, books to read and other things
to make life in prison more bearable. Gradually a friendship began
to develop between them.
During his stay in the high security
prison the oldest brother had become a real "hard" man.
He was still very angry, and he used his strength to bully some of
the weaker prisoners. When his father heard about what he was
doing, he was angry and wept, but he never stopped loving his
first born son.
The adopted son continued to build a
relationship with his brother. As he blessed his brother, his love
for him increased and grew. However, he never pretended that his
brother was not a murderer. He could see the brutalising affect of
life in a high-security prison, but he did not condone his
victimisation of his cell mates. He knew that his brother's bad
behaviour in prison meant that he would
have to serve his full term, so never gave him false hope by
suggesting that would get an early release from prison. He also
knew that before his brother could be returned to his place with
their father on the farm, he would need to repent of his anger and
violence. The adopted brother would gently remind him of this
fault, even as he continued to love and bless him.
A few days before the older son was due to
be released, he bullied a new inmate. A couple of rogue prison
guards caught him in the act and turned on him. Their anger
stirred, they beat him to "within an inch of his life".
His injuries were so severe that on the day he was released, he
could barely walk. So his adopted brother took him home and nursed
him back to health.
Strangely enough, the hiding proved to be
beneficial experience. For the first time in his life the older
brother experienced anger from the other side. He decided that he
would live differently in the future. As soon as he was strong
enough, he went to his father and apologised.
The farmer who had never stopped loving
his son welcomed him back to the farm. The adopted brother taught
the other brother how to apply the principles introduced by the
dead brother. The two brothers learned to work together and turned
the farm into one of the best in the region. The father was
delighted to have his oldest son home again. He really enjoyed the
way that his two sons worked together to make the family farm a
very successful business.
The father is the Father. The oldest son
is Israel; the younger son is Jesus; and the adopted son is the
church. The farm is the Kingdom of God and the rest is history.
The father never stopped loving his oldest
son, even though he had murdered his younger brother. Although the
father loved his son and did not remove his inheritance, the son
still had to pay the penalty for his crime. The son had to repent
and embrace his adopted brother before he could receive his
requirements of justice and mercy were both met.