Are we the older brother?

Lost, found, Prodigal Son, Jesus, Karen May, Amayzing Graces, Amazing Grace, lost, found, forgiveness, generosity,

Return of the Prodigal Son – Rembrandt

Do you side with the older son in the story of the Prodigal Son? This father who takes in the wayward, and marginally sorry younger son with a giant celebration is a bit much. There really should be some consequences, right?

I just discovered that this story was told in a series of three parables directed to the Pharisees immediately after they complained, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:2) Let’s look at the story again. The Pharisees are the “good sons,” the ones who are faithful and have never strayed from the house of their Father. As the father in the story says, all that He has is theirs. But, they stay outside, complaining that this lost son doesn’t deserve to be found, and surely doesn’t deserve to be welcomed home. Jesus is showing them another role that they should fulfill, and it is that of the father in the story. These are the leaders of the Jewish faith. They should be drawn to those who are lost, and helping them to find their way home. Nothing of theirs will be lost, it will only be gain if they choose to live this way. In the end, they are given the same choice as the older son in the story. Come inside and celebrate, or refuse and stay outside. In the end, the father came to both sons. The choice to enter or not is theirs.

The Story of the Prodigal Son

Then he said, “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”‘ So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrated with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.'” (Luke 15:11-32)

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About Karen May

Child of God, wife, mom, author, teacher, musician
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2 Responses to Are we the older brother?

  1. Rose says:

    I’m the one older son. I feel slighted when I have done all the right things and someone else hasn’t but seems to get away with it. I realize that it is only my ego that gets in the way of true love. My ego has been built because of mounds of hurt. But, if I look to the true essence of who I am, I can release my self-righteousness and know that when I do, God takes me back into his arms just like he takes back the younger brother. Who is to say which sin is really the worse in the big picture of the story–lust or pride?

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