Reader: “He was lost,”
Response: “but now he is found!”
Scripture: Luke 15:25-32
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
“The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 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. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 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.
Here we see the jealous heart of the other self-centered brother. While the younger son grabbed what was his and took off, the older brother blamed the father for not being generous toward himself. This was a giant narcissistic party. Serving his father he called “slavery.” Was he glad to see his prodigal brother? Was he concerned about the time his brother had been away? He even distanced himself from his sibling with the comment “this son of yours,” a further dig at his father. Did he feel his father owed him something for his self-righteous “faithfulness”? In a nutshell, he was bitter his father had forgiven his brother. His proud heart is embarrassingly laid bare before us. The older brother is completely unaware of his own need for repentance. When the younger son demanded his inheritance and left, the father let him go. He gave him that freedom. But here in contrast, the father pleads with the elder son to rejoice with them in the joy of a repentant son. The elder son would not move on from his brother’s past. He was stuck in his own pride and therefore missed the joy of the present moment. The father even reminded him that he was also an heir. The father treats both sons with the same love. The elder son had likewise strayed from the father even though he never left home. And he has not yet returned. The sadness in this parable is that this older son has not yet realized his own sinful heart and need for repentance. This parable is left open-ended. We don’t know if the elder brother repented and joined the celebration or continued wallowing “with the pigs” his self-righteousness. Since Jesus told this parable about the Pharisees, it is open ended as to whether the elder son ever repented. Some Pharisees repented and believed (Nicodemus) and others did not.
Music: “Amazing Grace” Il Divo GLORIOUS!!!!! When you get to heaven, you can sing like this!!
Gracious Lord of joy and delight, grant that I may rejoice with those who rejoice, cheer for those who are cheerful, laugh with those who laugh, be happy with those who are happy, be enthusiastic with those who are enthusiastic, discover with those who discover new things. Forbid that I should ever withhold my heart’s embracing of another’s joy for some silly, selfish, or jealous reason. Your kingdom does not need more “joy monitors.” From sour-faced saints, good Lord deliver us! ―Daniel Sharp