His father said to him, “Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!” Luke 15:31-32
We have been looking at the story of the prodigal son this week that is found in Luke chapter 15. We've talked all about this son and how he completely insulted and disregarded His father by asking for his inheritance early and then completely wasting that inheritance by living recklessly. Many people call this story in Luke 15 "the parable of the prodigal son," but maybe this story should be called "the parable of the prodigal sons." After all, there are two sons in this story, and both sons insulted their father with their behavior and needed to learn a lesson about God's love and grace.
Jesus told a story in Luke 15 about a man and two sons. The younger son, whom we have talked extensively about this week, requested his dad's inheritance early, wasted it away, and came back home ready to beg to become one of his dad's servants. But, to his surprise, his dad welcomed him back as a son, hugging him and throwing a party to celebrate the return of his son. As you know, this story is about a father and two sons.
Our story today picks up with the oldest son. When he finished working and returned home for the day, he noticed that music and dancing were happening in the house. He quickly found out that his brother was home and his dad was throwing a party to celebrate. Jesus explained in this story that the older brother refused to go to the party his dad was throwing because he was so angry. In Jesus' day, this refusal would have been highly offensive to the father and embarrassing as the party guests would recognize that his son was missing.
When the father went to talk to his oldest son, here is what the son said, "All these years, I've slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time, you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!" (verses 29-30). These were certainly strong words from the oldest son. He clearly believed that he deserved a party, not his brother. He did not realize that his attitude was also highly offensive towards his father. Look at the father's reply: "Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!" (verses 31-32). The son had clearly been focusing on the wrong things. Instead of focusing on what his father had done for him, he focused on what his father had done for his brother and let his anger lead to insult on behalf of his father. Both of these brothers had something to learn from their father and needed some correction.
Maybe as you look at this story in Luke 15, you do not relate much to the younger son. Maybe you completely relate to the older son's story and think about all the things you have done for God, yet you think maybe He is holding back on you compared to what He has done for the people around you. Maybe this has led you to feel angry and even cynical. This attitude is just as offensive toward God. My friend, if you are a follower of Jesus, everything He has is yours. He withholds nothing good from you. It's time to celebrate the good that is happening in the lives of the people around you and practice gratitude for the things He has done for you.
Take a few minutes on a sheet of paper or in your journal to compare and contrast the two sons in this story. What similarities do you see between the two? What differences do you see? Which can you relate with more? Why? Then go on a walk. As you walk, pray to God, thanking Him that he waits for us to come back to Him, even when we are "a long way off."
Luke 15:25-32 (NLT)
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
“The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’ ”
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