“Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.”
The elder brother in Jesus’ story did not demand his inheritance and leave home. His future was bound up in the property and all that went with it. So he stayed at home and worked for his father, obeying his directions and submitting to his authority.
On the surface he might have appeared to be an obedient conformist. However underneath he was anything but happy. When the younger brother returned and was accepted into the family home with joy and celebration all the resentment burst from him in an angry flood. He insulted and ridiculed his father in a way that indicated he too was only interested in the father’s wealth and had no interest in their relationship or in his father’s feelings.
In his opinion the younger brother was a wastrel who should not have been allowed home – whereas he through his hard work and obedience had earned the right to all the remaining wealth. He was clearly not happy about the prospect of sharing it.
The two brothers were alarmingly alike. Both wanted their share of the fortune. Neither was interested in the father except in his capacity as the controller of that wealth. Both insulted and ridiculed him. There was however one big difference. The younger brother’s attitude was easily recognised – even by him. The elder brother’s was hidden, unrecognised and unadmitted. It was poisonous, destructive and venomous – and it consumed him.
Why do I seek to obey?
Father please help me to live Your way because I love You and not because I want something from You. Amen.