2009-11-03 - The Prodigal Son's Brother
My Least-Favorite Passages Series ~ Part 2
I would like to take a moment and thank those of you who have responded with your own least-favorite passages, as well as affirmations about the devotional series thus far. I'm thankful God is using HIS devotionals to bless you.
Many of us have heard stories and sermons about the "Prodigal Son" for years. They often focus on the forgiveness and love of the Father, but the hardworking older brother gets barely a mention. Perhaps you have thought of it as a beautiful, sweet, even encouraging story. And it is. But if we were the older brother, we wouldn't feel that way.
Imagine your workplace, if you will. You work hard every day, maybe even arrive a little early. You always give your best efforts (as Colossians tell us to). You rarely miss a day at work, and you do these things because of your integrity, your work ethic, your appreciation of the work accomplished by the organization. One of your coworkers, on the other hand, is pretty lazy. S/he does as little as possible to "get by," often drifts in late, and does a half-hearted job. Imagine your surprise when your coworker, instead of you, is promoted. It's unfair! And that it is.
I have always had a problem with this part of the story, the way the faithful older brother is treated. I'm all for forgiving and welcoming back the younger son - but what about the devoted son?
Luke 15 tells us (NKJV - Published by Thomas Nelson): 25 Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.
I think that the older son's anger and hurt are understandable, and the good news for him is that the father does at least show, briefly, some appreciation for him. But at this moment - just as in the story of the workers who were all paid the same - the emphasis is again on grace. And when it comes to initially receiving God's grace, none of us deserve it. In fact, the emphasis of Luke 15 in general is about God's grace in wooing the lost with his grace - symbolized by the lost coin, the lost sheep, the lost son. Once again, the reminder is that it's not about us; it's about God.