“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.'”
– Luke 15:25-32 NASB (Jesus speaking)
We’ve come to our fourth and final installment of Luke’s fifteenth chapter. Recall that this chapter began with “the tax collectors and sinners” coming to hear Jesus while “the Pharisees and scribes” grumbled about it, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” In response, Jesus tells three parables: of a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. The first two short parables set the stage, and the last was the extended and emotional centerpiece of his response to the criticism of His outreach to sinners.
The third parable, however, has a coda – seen above. Its purpose was to clearly communicate to the grumblers and wake them from their dullness to the issue at hand. The older son, of course, typifies these leaders. Instead of rejoicing at the return of his brother, he pouts. Instead of calling him “my brother,” he calls him “this son of yours.” Instead of celebrating the reunion, he recalls the prodigal’s past sins.
As the prodigal son demonstrated how “tax collectors and sinners” were responding to Jesus, so the older son demonstrated how “the Pharisees and scribes” were missing the point.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, in the next few minutes please show me how I can learn to avoid the pride of the older brother…(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.