Luke 32: 15
this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.
There is a unique aspect to the “Prodigal” story that is not always apparent on first reading/hearing. It is, on the surface, a warm and tender story of a loving father welcoming his wayward son back to the fold after squandering all, and realizing his life would be better working as one of his father’s servants than literally wallowing in a pig sty. Instead, his father greets him home with utter joy, bringing him the best of all he possesses to celebrate. It is the ultimate story of grace and forgiveness.
It is told by Jesus in the context of a warning to the Pharisees and keepers of the Jewish law. It is actually a parable far more about the older brother–the obedient “nose to the grindstone” guy– who is resentful and angry that his father lavishes such special attention on the younger brother returned home from a life of sin. The father “pleads” with his older son to participate in the celebration, reminding him: “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.” We don’t know what the older brother decided to do, and whether he could ever get over his resentment of his brother and his anger at his father. Jesus leaves that part of the story open-ended, just as our own decisions are open-ended.
It is clear what we must do. We cannot have expectations for what we feel is owed us because of our “good” behavior, our hard work, or our obedient nature. We deserve nothing.
Yet our Father hears our righteous anger, sees our self-absorbed resentment and instead entreats us, with all the power of His love,
“You are always with me; everything I have is yours.”
What can be greater than that? As we are lost in our selfish judgment, He reminds us how firmly He holds us. We are meant to be found resting, living, breathing in Him.
And so, it is not only the prodigal who lives again.