We had a lively discussion tonight about the older brother in the Parable of the Lost Son. Our group has been reading Timothy Keller’s book, The Prodigal God. The parable is a bit of a cliffhanger – the Scripture says -” The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.” The parable ends without telling us if the older brother was persuaded … if he joined the celebration … or if he stayed outside – sulking in his anger.
This older brother’s anger reminds me of a psalm of Asaph … But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold – For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity the evil conceits of their minds know no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?” This is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning. ~Psalm 73:2-14
As I ponder the anger of the older brother, I realize that I don’t want to be caught up in that trap – of dutiful obedience, of fastidious rule-keeping.
I am reminded of the grace extended to me … and tonight … I’m grateful for the amazing love of the Father, the extravagant love … the prodigal love … the Father has for me, his daughter. In the quiet of this moment … I sing of his love for me …
How can it be
That You, my King, would die for me?
I know it’s true.
It’s my joy to honor You,
In all I do, I honor You.