I still needed to come to face my sin. Watching “The Passion of the Christ” reminded me of how dirty I was in the eyes of God. Jesus went through that for me to be forgiven and I was one of the good ones.
So I take it personally when people rank on the older son. He gets a lot of bad press based on theological systems that are not justified in the Bible.
Go back and read the interaction between the father and his sons. Most people accept that the father represents God. Most people can see the younger son as one who rebelled and came back to the father asking for forgiveness. We see repentance and forgiveness. So far, so good. The problem comes when they get to the older son and spend their time calling him a Pharisee and a legalist. It is always implied that he is a hypocrite who thinks he is saved by works and is really outside the kingdom.
Three things stand out to me. If you don’t have a Bible handy, shame on you, but let me give you the key verse.
(Luke 15:31 KJV) And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.First, he is addressed as “Son.” Notice he is not called a “white washed wall” or a “serpent” or any of the other word pictures available. He is a son.
Second, the father says that the older son is always with the father. This does not sound like rejection or condemnation. It sounds like a reminder.
Third, the father says that everything he has belongs to the older son. Does Jesus ever say this about the Pharisees? I don’t think so.
So we have a “son” who is “always with the father” who “owns everything the father has.” I can live with that.
The lesson for us older sons is to get our attitudes in check and be willing to accept people back into the family when they repent. It is to hope that they repent. It is also to lighten up and enjoy all of the benefits of the kingdom.
If you are a younger son, welcome back. Those of us who never left are glad to have you. Now give me a plate and dish up some of that fatted calf that really belongs to me but the Father has decided to share with you.
homo unius libri