Jon Stolpe Stretched

What's S-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g me now?

The Prodigal Son – The Older Son


The painting above by Rembrandt depicts the story of The Prodigal Son.  In the forefront, you see the lost son being embraced by the loving father.  And I’m guessing that the middle figure in the back behind the father is the older son.  Here are some of my thoughts about this story.

A couple of weeks ago at my men’s group, we were discussing different parables that we liked and disliked.  We talked about different ones and what they meant.  One of the parables we talked about more extensively was The Parable of the Lost Son (or The Prodigal Son).  This story told by Jesus in Luke 15 is an amazing story about a runaway son who finds redemption, about a loving father who grants forgiveness, and about an older son who is conflicted by the happenings surrounding his brother and his father.

I love this story and I dislike the story all at the same time.  I love that we all are offered forgiveness and grace.  We have all screwed up, and our Father runs to us with open arms as we return to Him.  I identify with the older son who seems to have done everything correctly, but who sometimes feels lost in the shadows as those around me celebrate the stories of people who have “returned home” following a path of drunkenness, debauchery, and destruction.  I know this sounds selfish and shortsighted, and it is.  But it’s also an honest response.  I am so thankful for my upbringing, my early found faith, and my journey.  And I really don’t want any turmoil or trouble in my life that could come as a result of straying from God.  But there are times where I feel overlooked or undervalued because I don’t have a more colorful story of how I was lost but found Christ.

Just a window into my thoughts – enough whining!  Whether you relate to the younger son or the older son, we can all be thankful for God’s grace and forgiveness.  We can all experience redemption.  And I think this is why I ultimately love this story.  It convicts me of my own selfishness and jealousy, and it offers a clear hope for me.  You see, I believe the Father would do anything for both of the sons.  He loves both of them lavishly and completely.  God, my Father, loves me despite my junk.

Do you believe that?  How do you relate to this story?


April 13, 2011 - Posted by | thoughts, Uncategorized


  1. amen… unconditional love for us..

    Romans 8:38-39

    Comment by tim | April 13, 2011 | Reply

    • “38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ” Romans 8:38-39

      Tim, Thanks for adding this to this thoughts and discussion. I’m so thankful for His unconditional love for me.

      Comment by jonstolpe | April 13, 2011 | Reply

  2. Hey Jon —
    This parable seems to be a collective favorite of our church… We all often talk about being Recovering Older Brothers. 🙂 Have you read anything by Tim Keller about this story? I know he talks about it a lot… In fact “The Prodigal God” is all about it, I think.
    Definitely a lot of depth and truth in this parable!

    Comment by Amy | April 13, 2011 | Reply

    • Amy, I haven’t read anything by Tim Keller, but his book looks like an interesting read. I’m also thinking about reading Henri Nouwen’s “The Return of the Prodigal” which I’m sure will provide some interesting perspective.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Comment by jonstolpe | April 13, 2011 | Reply

  3. […] I’m onto the whole parable thing (see my previous post), I thought I’d go down a more humorous path to let you in on a little bit of the Stolpe […]

    Pingback by The Lost Coin – The Lost Landscaping Plan « Jon Stolpe Stretched | April 13, 2011 | Reply

  4. Did you know that Henry Noewen wrote a book about the Prodigal Son. And the artwork on the front cover is the one you have posted.

    I hope you don’t feel overlooked or undervalued by us, Jon. We do love you and are proud of you. Please forgive me if I have hurt you in any way or disappointed you. Each of our sons are different and unique. We love you all. There have been ups and downs and I know I haven’t always made the best decisions,etc. I wish we could lavish more upon our sons, if you know what I mean.

    Comment by Mom | April 14, 2011 | Reply

    • Hey Mom, My thoughts weren’t really directed at you and dad. I think you both have done an amazing job parenting three different boys. I’m proud to be your son – in fact! My comments were much more general and probably more directed to my thoughts of being part of a church with so many new believers where there are so many diverse and “colorful” stories. Thanks for reading along, and thanks for being such a great parent. I love you!

      Comment by jonstolpe | April 14, 2011 | Reply

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