[In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son], the younger son chose to rebel and walk out from under his father’s covering. He rejected the authority over him and did what he pleased. In the end, however, what he got was waste and ruin. His inheritance was squandered until nothing was left. Then famine came. The last scene of Act One has him feeding swine while going hungry himself. He lost his dignity and his honor. It was then he started thinking, I am no longer worthy to be a son. But maybe I could ask to be one of my father’s servants. He was willing to come under the authority of his father again.
A.W. Tozer remarks on this story: “At bottom of his restoration was nothing more than a reestablishing of the father-son relation which had existed from his birth and had been altered temporarily by his act of sinful rebellion.”(1)
When this drama ends, the son has returned. But he is not treated as a servant. Instead, he is honored as a son, with great love and celebration. Blessings are showered upon him. His father had been waiting for the day that he would return so that he could bless his son again.
Submission to God’s delegated authority is one of the most wholesome and liberating truths ever given to us by God. It affects our lives positively at every level. This truth, however, remains hidden from most of us because Satan has taken this concept and twisted it into a negative term.
Granted, submission may not be easy on our flesh, but the benefits that we receive far outweigh the struggle involved. We experience what Jesus said: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24, NASB). When we die to our pride and submit to God’s authority, the benefits will follow.
Before their rebellion, Adam and Eve had every blessing—all that is of God without the pollution of sin. To the extent we submit, we too will know God’s restoration to that life of blessing. Likewise, to the degree we allow rebellion in our hearts, we repeat the scenes of chaos and confusion that Satan introduced into the world.
(1) A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, Inc., 1982), p. 100.