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!’”
Dear God, the older son won’t understand until he’s a father himself. Being the father of two children, I see this parable a little differently now. Granted, these aren’t real people, and Jesus is only giving us the details he wants us to know to make his point about God’s love for the most, but I still have to wonder what the relationship like between the boys? Did the older brother have bitterness towards his brother that had nothing to do with the father’s actions? He probably did.
I also wonder what the older son was seeing in his father while the younger son was still gone, and if his father’s obvious love for the younger son angered him. Did the older son see his father as naive? Weak? Foolish? Again, I’m looking at a literal family dynamic here and not at the relationship we have with you.
But now that I say that, do those of us who are Disciples and believers get angry with you over what you allow our sinful world to get away with? Do we hate our sinful brothers instead of waiting on the porch with you, watching for them to come home? Do we secretly resent your plan for the world and think you foolish?
Father, thank you for what you’ve taught me through being a father. Thank you for the pain and strain. Thank you for the redemption and growth. It’s been hard, it’s been great, it’s been fulfilling, and it’s ripped my heart out. I’ve needed all of those things to happen to shape me into who I am becoming through your guidance. Help me to continue on this journey as a father, as a brother, as a friend, and as a Disciple.
In Jesus’ name I pray,