Fifth Sunday in Lent “All these years I’ve slaved for you . . .”
Scripture: Luke 15:25-32
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
Reader: This is the word of the Lord. Response: Thanks be to God.
It’s most interesting the way Jesus concludes this parable. We have a crabbing older son. The older son came late to the party. He asked a servant what was going on with the party and was told simply that your brother is back and we are celebrating his return. You might think the older brother would be glad to see his younger sibling. Apparently he was not concerned about his wayward brother during the time he was gone. At any rate, he was throwing a major pity party for himself and refused to join his brother’s party and pouted outside. We again are given insight to the character of their father. Whereas the father ran to embrace the younger son, here the father comes out to the childish older son and begs him to join the celebration whereupon the whining continues. Note the choice of words, “This son of yours.” The older brother refuses to identify with his repentant brother. Can’t you just hear, “It’s not fair!”? In one sense he’s right. Thank goodness our Father in heaven isn’t fair. But thank goodness he’s just and loving. In this parable the father absorbed the younger son’s foolishness and granted forgiveness to the repentant son. Have you noticed Jesus did not tell us how the older son responded to his father’s comments in verses 31-32? In the parable, the Jewish religious leaders were the older son. These leaders still had a chance to respond positively to the father (Jesus). Earlier in this chapter (v.7) we read of the great rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents. The lost sheep, the lost coin, and the parable of the prodigal son all point to a persistent God who is diligent in pursuing his children. He does not give up. Our God is faithful even when we are faithless.
Music: “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” Fernando Ortega
Prayer: Holy Lord, how little repentance there is in the world, and how many sins I have to repent of! I am troubled for my sin of passion, for the shame and horror of it as an evil; I purpose to give way to it no more, and come to thee for strength to that end. Lord God, I know that my sudden anger arises when things cross me, and I desire to please only myself, not Christ. There is in all wrongs and crosses a double cross―that which crosses me, and that which crosses thee; in all good things there is somewhat that pleases me, and somewhat that pleases thee. My sin is that my heart is pleased or troubled as things please or trouble me, without my having regard to Christ. Thus, I am like Eli, the subject of punishment for not rebuking sin; whereas I should humbly confess my sin and fly to the blood of Christ for pardon and peace. Give me, then, repentance, true brokenness, lasting contrition, for these things thou wilt not despise in spite of my sin. For it is in the completed work of Christ that I make this prayer. Amen.
―The Valley of Vision, p.89