(25) Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. (26) And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. (27) And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because hath received him safe and sound. (28) And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. (29) And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. (30) But as soon as this son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. (31) And he said unto him, Son thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. (32) It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and alive again; and was lost, and is found. (Luke 15: 25-32)
Ah…The brother of the prodigal’s son. Can I be honest with you? This was one of my favorite lessons from the bible when I was a kid growing up. Mostly though I always heard it taught from the perspective of the prodigal son. The one who left, but truthfully I’ve always sympathized with the son who stayed. Usually when this lesson is taught and preached on the son who lived his life in riotous living. We walk away understanding a little bit more about God being able to restore us to our rightful place, but it’s a lesson I learned about God from the son that stayed. If the prodigal taught us about God’s restoration as well as his grace and mercy. The other son taught me about God’s love and understanding. Let’s take a look at the son that stayed.
(25) Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
The elder son was in the field. Meaning that he had been out doing what his father had commissioned him to do. He was working on behalf of his father. Let’s look at it from today’s perspective so that we may get a better understanding of what is being told to us. For us that means he was out preaching and teaching his father’s words, or ministering to the sick and shut in, it meant that he was feeding the homeless. You get my point. the scripture is letting us know that he devoted his life doing the will of his father. I need for you to understand that this elder son hadn’t just stayed behind being useless. He didn’t just attend church on Sunday’s and lived like whatever the other six days. He was in the field working his calling. Doing that which his father desired of him to do.
(26) And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant (27) And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. (28) And, he was angry and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
I have a question. What do you think that it was that caused the elder son to be so angry? Was it the fact that his younger brother had returned after wasting his time in riotous living? Or was it the celebration that awaited him upon his return? I believe that it was the latter. I believe it was the fact that his father had killed the fatted calf at the return of his brother who no doubt in the oldest brothers mind he didn’t deserve. Now before we cast stones at the oldest son, let’s not forget he’s also the son that stayed doing whatever his father asked of him. His attitude may have been wrong but he was coming from a place of frustration. In order for us to better understand this son’s frustration we first have to understand where he’s coming from. It’s easy for us to identify with the prodigal son because most of us if not all of us have been in his shoes, but what about those who stayed and served? This lesson is to encourage those who stayed and worked the field who felt as though their prayers weren’t being answered. The eldest son was angry cause he felt that he spent his life serving his father without any recognition or thanks of any kind. So he refused to go in and celebrate the return of his brother. Here’s the part in all of this that I love the most. When he didn’t come in his father came out looking for him. The fact that his father came out looking for him shows that his father noticed he wasn’t there in the celebration. This scripture spoke to me last year. I remember being frustrated because I felt that I served and taught and was with God and I couldn’t get my prayers answered. I felt forgotten and honestly I felt that God only cared about the prodigal. Then I read this part in the scripture. Therefore came his father out, and intreated him. In that moment of my frustration God came to see about me. Just as the eldest son Father came to see about him. It was then that I understood something about God that I never realized before. That his eye wasn’t only on the one who left but his eye was also on the one who stayed. He was able to run out and welcome back the one who left, but he was also able to go out and encourage the one who stayed.
(29) And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: (30) But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. (31) And he said unto him, Son thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. (32) It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
I love the fact that when the father intreated his oldest son to see what was wrong. His son was honest and told him. He told him for years I served you. I didn’t wander off (transgress) I was faithful, but after years of being faithful to you. I never even received even a kid to share with my closest friends. However, the one who ran off the second he got his share of his inheritance and wasted it all on the things of this world. He returns yet, you treat him as the one who served you and not his flesh. He gets the celebration and I got nada. The truth is when we put it like this it sounds ugly and horrid but this is what he was saying in essence and I absolutely love it! It shows me that I can be honest with God. Notice that God never once scolded or reprimanded his eldest son for pouring out his heart and for feeling what he was feeling. He understood the frustration. Son thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. Do you get the meaning of what he was telling him. Son/daughter since your with me all the time you have access to all that is mine. The word access means the ability, the right, or permission to approach, enter, speak with or use. So he was telling his son all this time you had the right to get whatever it was of mine. Nothing was ever withheld from you, because you were my child nothing that was mine was ever denied to you. This brother of yours however had limited access. He was lost but now he’s found. You were always here under my wing.
May God continue to bless the ones who left and returned (the prodigals) and the ones that stayed!!