Lk.15:32 – But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.
The story of the Prodigal Son can hit us on so many levels. At first glance we see the story of rebellion, repentance, and restoration. All of us can see ourselves as restored sons and daughters. But just like all of Jesus’s parables, they can hit us on multiple levels. I think I have been both sons in this story as well as the father in various seasons of my life. The prodigal is obvious, that’s how I was introduced to this family, tackled by the Father’s love on the lakefront of Lake Ponchartrain in 1973. The Father loved me, accepted me into His family, and began the process of rebuilding my broken life.
Over the years I have also seen myself in the Father’s role, looking down the road in prayer for my biological as well as rebellious spiritual sons to come home. There is no greater joy for a Father to see that familiar gait of one you love making their way back home. That’s when the celebration starts reverberating throughout your whole being.
If we are honest, we all tend to slip into the role of the elder brother from time to time. This elder brother stayed faithfully at work in his father’s home, but everything wasn’t all right deep inside. It probably started when his younger brother got his inheritance early. If things were up to him, his younger brother would have been sent packing without his dad’s money. Then there were the rumors of parties and women that made their way to the older son’s ears. When word got back to him about the poverty and homeless lifestyle his younger brother fell into, he probably felt rectified and could only think, “my brother finally got what he deserved”.
When his brother came back his worst fears were realized. Not only did his father take the prodigal back in, he gave him expensive gifts and threw a party. The dancing and singing were too much for him to bare.
Jesus told this story as a rebuke to the Pharisees. They were the older brothers, indignant that sinners were following Jesus. I had similar feelings in 1994 when rumors of revival were in the air. Who do these people think they are, dancing and laughing in church? Thankfully the self righteous pride that was strangling life from me was blown away. This elder brother found himself jumping into the celebration, dancing and laughing welcoming the prodigals back home. Do it again Lord !!!