““The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”” (Luke 15:28–32, NIV84)
Today our attention turns to the other son. This son has stayed with his father his whole life. He did not run away from his father like the younger son did. He has faithfully remained home. But today, he is angry. He is angry that his father has so easily welcomed his straying brother home. He is treating his younger brother as though he had never left. Actually, his brother is being treated better than he has been treated, and he is the son who stayed home. From the older son’s perspective, the party is for the wrong son. So, he stays outside as a sign of protest.
Once again, we are forced to give our attention to the father. He takes the initiative to reach out to his older son by leaving the party and finding his angry son. There is reason to pause at this moment and praise God that He is always willing to take the initiative to reach out to us, even when we are being stubborn and disobedient. Just as the younger son had the wrong perspective and needed to come to his senses, the older son is guilty of the same sin. It is true that he is not guilty of squandering his father’s wealth; and he didn’t run away from home, but he is guilty of living in his father’s home and not realizing the depth of blessings that were there for him.
What about you and me? At the end of the day we find that we end up being like one of the sons. Some of us believe(d) that the grass is greener away from God and wander only to squander the blessing of God. Some of us believe(d) that we are safe and secure at home but fail to see the richness that is ours as we remain in God’s kingdom. The error of the first son is easy to point out because of his wandering and squandering. But the error of the second son is more subtle. Because he (we) remained home, outward appearances don’t help us. In order to detect this error we need to get to the heart of the individual. Are we staying home in the security of our Father’s home but not living like we belong to His kingdom? Are we missing the rich blessings He has for us who live in His kingdom? The father tells the older son, “…You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” If we are not celebrating in our Father’s kingdom it is because we have the wrong perspective of our situation.
Finally, the father invites his older son back into the party with the most important statement, “We had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again…” Regardless of which son our life most closely relates to, there is reason to celebrate. We are back into the kingdom of our heavenly Father, and that is reason enough to celebrate.