“Then the older son was furious and didn’t want to enter in, but his father came out and begged him. He answered his father, ‘Look, I’ve served you all these years, and I never disobeyed your instruction. Yet you’ve never given me as much as a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.” – Luke 15:28-29
The older son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son challenges every Christian I know, including myself.
Are we “good” out of a sense of love or entitlement?
We follow Christ because we love him, but somewhere along the way we may start feeling that we should be rewarded for that love. Promotions. Admiration. No suffering.
Jesus warns us about this infectious spiritual disease by painting the picture of an offended older son. While acting as the good boy who stayed home and obeyed, he actually stayed home and obeyed out of a sense of “What’s in it for me?”
He loved himself more than he cared for his brother or dad. How else would you explain him staying home when his younger sibling left and broke his father’s heart? If he cared for his father and saw how crushed the old man was, wouldn’t he try to find his brother and at least try to bring him home?
If, as Christians, we’re to love God and our neighbors, then this brother is someone we do not want to imitate. He stays home when his brother leaves. He expects a party for himself. He won’t wear a mask when there’s a pandemic. He says you eat only if you work.
What else would he say or do that we shouldn’t?
One thing’s for sure. If we see ourselves as the older brother, and we want to change the parable, then we’d be out looking for our younger sibling. We wouldn’t stay home.