Summary: A message that takes a look at the prodigal son parable from the perspective of the other son.
(This message was preached at a United Service with Anglican’s & URC from our town - including my old College Principal!)
Luke 15 : 11 - 32
Religious people criticized Jesus because he ate with sinners & so He told this story.
A story so familiar to us who have been attending churches – yes? Most, if not all of us could re-tell the story, missing nothing out, for we know it so well. I must say I was surprised to notice this is only the second time I’ve preached on it in all my years as a preacher.
It is of course known as the parable of the Prodigal Son – that is, the youngest son.
The one who wasted his living in a foreign land & ended up going from bad to worse until - at last - he comes to his senses & goes home. He hoped that then he could put his life together again – even if it must be as a servant - for he knows that in his father’s house, even servants live better than he was. In reading this account, we more often than not think of things from his perspective.
A lot of parents find themselves seeing things from the perspective of the parent in the story. Those of us whose own children have gone, or are going wrong ; we hear the Father & the Mother’s cry & echo their prayers. Personally having had a son leave home & do things we wish he hadn’t & wasn’t doing, the parable offers us great comfort & hope that one day we will see him returning to us & our job now is to wait & pray.
Today though I want us to think about the other person in this story – the Elder Son.
What about the oldest brother? Do any of us identify with him? Well we should, & I’ll tell you why.
This one gets up & goes to work every day & tries to be responsible. Indeed, he feels he must be all that is expected of him, so when his brat of a brother asks for his inheritance early, while his father was still alive, he takes that as being selfish & an insult – the same as wishing his father was dead. You can almost hear him moaning about his younger brother being irresponsible as ever.
But now he comes home, & his Father throws a party for him. Can you understand the rage that burns in the older brother’s chest? he throws a party!?
‘Nobody ever threw a party for me - nobody ever appreciates that I stuck around & did what I was supposed to do. I didn’t waste Dad’s money - I worked hard in the fields every day, & do you think anybody ever sacrificed anything for me, so that I could have a party with my friends? No way! No one cares about me.’
I have to say that everywhere I have ministered, I have recognised that sentiment in some of the people in the Church.
‘I have been working hard – at the coalface of the Church’
‘I have put in the hours & it’s just not fair’
‘Why should we change for these Johnny come-latelys?’
‘Why do the youngsters always have to have their way?’
‘Why don’t the young people want to do the jobs – all they do is take, take, take’
‘Why should they come in & enjoy the benefits of all our work?’
Sound familiar? It should because I am convinced that at least a little bit of the older brother lives in our hearts; that responsible part in all of us, which doesn’t like it when somebody else gets something for nothing.