Among Christians, this phrase is pretty well-known because it is one of the key phrases in the parable of the prodigal son. Although the larger portion of this parable has to do with the prodigal son, this phrase was actually spoken to the older brother; the one who remained at home with his father. 

As we read this parable, it is easy to shake our head at the older brother. How could he not have known that everything the father possessed was also a possession of his? Given his mindset, some Christians believe that the older brother was no more of a “believer” than was his brother. 

This parable is often interpreted in only a handful of ways. I have occasionally ran into a Christian who admitted that the prodigal son represented unbelievers, while the older brother represented Christians. Most Christians, however, dislike that analogy because that would suggest that unbelievers are children of God. Therefore, the prodigal son is most often portrayed as a Christian who has strayed from the narrow path. What a shame! 

Although that is a legitimate application of this parable, its scope should not be limited to a single application. There is so much truth to be discovered in the former analogy. Granted, unbelievers are often called sons of the devil or simply: unknown, but does that strip them of their paternity? Is God not the potter of every man and woman who has ever walked the face of the earth?

The prodigal son disowned his heritage when he left, but he was never anything less than a son of his father. When he returned repentant, his father acknowledged just that as he ran out to his son while he was still far off. The father’s love did not wavered; neither would it ever have if the son had taken a much longer way home. 

When the son returned, the father clothed his son in royal garments because, although he chose to become unknown/a child of the devil, he was always his son and was never discouraged from coming home. The only thing that was required of him was this: he had to acknowledge his royalty in order for him to come to his senses . . . for him to realize the eternal truth of the matter, that he was loved and that he could come home.

The older brother had all that he desired within his grasp. Yet, he did not acknowledge his royalty; he did not know the heart of his father. The prodigal son gave everything up to be his “own man”, only to squander his supposed share of “his father’s possession”. 

These two brothers had something in common. They were both spiritually immature. Therefore, they thought of themselves rather than of their father’s legacy — their true legacy. In their minds, he and they were not one.

The truth of the matter was they were always co-heirs. They reigned along side if their father rather than under him. His blood coursed through their veins, regardless of their spiritual immaturity. Therefore, they did not have to wait until their father died to possess what was his because all that he had was already theirs. 

So too is it with us, Jew and gentile, slave and free. 

We who trust in Christ are residing with our father, although some of us live as though we are his slaves rather than his sons and daughters. 

You who have not placed your faith in Christ are like the prodigal son. You are if a royal bloodline, but your spirit has been given over to the devil. Therefore, your soul wallows amongst the swine, even if you have not squandered what you have been physically given. You do not reside with your Father and you are suffering, in one way or another, for it.

Your father is ever waiting for you to come home, to bathe and to clothe your soul in royal vestments. You may feel like you’re doing just fine without him, but your spirit thirsts for water that only he can give. All that is asks of you is to come and you will never thirst again.

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