Luke 15:11–32 (ESV)
The Parable of the Prodigal Son
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger
son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself
out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he
came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.
19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed
him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on
his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
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 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 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.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and
I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to
him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ”
This is one of my favorite parables in the Gospels. I think it is just about everyone’s favorite parable. Everybody understands that the son wants his portion of the inheritance from his father before the father dies. He goes
off on his own and lives it up in the city and blows all his money on a party life (like Lindsay Lohan) and ends up broke and takes up a job with a pig farmer. He realizes that the pigs are eating better than he is and he just wants to go home and live
as a hired helper, because he knows that he would be living better than this. Daddy sees him coming down the road and runs to meet him and throws a big party for his lost son who has come home. This is how much rejoicing God will do over a lost
sinner repenting and coming back home.
Now, I see another big story in the older son. Stop and take a look at him. He did not ask for his inheritance while daddy is still alive. He did
not go wandering off and spending all the money on a wonton lifestyle. He has been faithful to his dad and has stayed by his side working hard. People in the church can often take on the role of “the older son” and get a bad attitude
because they have been faithful and volunteering at the church while everybody else goes and does whatever they wish. And now when they come back, a party is thrown. Well... what about me??? I never left and have devoted countless hours and remained
faithful... where’s my party!!! Well... maybe you get the picture. Well, when the lost son comes back... the “other brother” throws a hissy fit and is angry. In fact, here is the other brothers dialog: 28 But he was
angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.
30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be
glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ”
What is interesting is the role reversal. It is the lost son who is now found and saved. It is the
other brother whose attitude is moving him from saved to lost. The older brother has lost the joy of serving his father and rejoicing over the lost being found. I look back at my time with my Dad and I have come to realize the most cherished time
I had with him was working with him on the ranch.
I pray: O Lord, help me to focus on the joy of serving you and the joy of the lost being found. Help me to never become complacent or cold
towards others because of their lack of service or their wonton lifestyle. Help me to serve you with joy, whether I have help or not. And if a lost sheep comes back... help me to rejoice and welcome him/her back home. Amen.