“The older brother became angry and refused to go in.”
The elder brother was furious when he discovered that his younger brother was home again. Not only that but he had been welcomed, forgiven, re-instated and a lavish party was in progress to celebrate his home-coming.
His main anger however was directed at his father. He could not accept such unconditional and lavish forgiveness, grace and love. It was not right, it was not fair and it infringed upon the elder brothers perceived rights, rewards and dignity. So he refused to join in the celebrations, turned his back on his father and would not enter the house.
This terrible picture of obsessive self-centredness, grasping selfishness and uncaring rejection would be offensive enough in one person. But Jesus was painting a portrait of the religious establishment as He found it in the leaders at the time. His listeners knew it and the Pharisees and teachers of the law were appalled and offended. Like the elder brother they despised Him, insulted Him and rejected His teaching. They would take it further by planning to kill him.
Jesus has spoken the truth when He said to them,
“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
Is there any part of me that is like the elder brother- particularly in expecting rewards in my life and offended by the thought of grace for others? Take time to be honest.
Father I recognise that I can be very critical, judgemental and dismissive of others. Please forgive me for You do not treat me in that way. Amen.