(Last in this short series – and the justification for the earlier ones: 1, 2, 3. This is the only part in the story in Luke 15 where we’re actually told what the elder brother thinks. But the sting in the tail is: how often do we think like this?)
I can’t believe it! Yesterday, after months without a single word, my brother just walks back into the house as if nothing has happened. He had some story about losing all his money, and starving nearly to death, and having to look after some pigs, and even being ready to eat the pigs’ food – and now (surprise, surprise) he’s seen the light and is sorry for what he’s done. Yes, well, if I hadn’t eaten for a week and was smelling like a pig I think I might manage a bit of grovelling as well.
But what I really can’t believe is the way that Dad has responded to all this. I might have expected that he’d clean him up a bit, and perhaps give him a meal, but that’s not half the story. Apparently (I heard this from one of the servants who was there), Dad saw this dirty, smelly tramp coming down the road, and ran to him – ran with open arms – saying “My son! You were lost, and now you’re found; I thought you were dead, but you’re alive!” And that’s not all. He asked the servants to get the best robes for him to wear, and to find shoes for his feet, and even a ring for his finger. It’s as if he’s taken him back into the family again! And if that wasn’t enough, he even gave orders to kill the fatted calf and to celebrate with a feast. The fatted calf – when I’ve never had even a lamb or a kid to have a bit of a do with my mates.
Of course, I was out in the field when all this happened, but when I got home I could hear all the shouting and the laughing and the music playing; I wondered what on earth was going on. That’s when I asked the servants and got the whole story. Well, I was pretty mad – who wouldn’t be? There was no way I was going to join in a celebration for a worthless good-for-nothing. Dad came out to try and persuade me, but I wasn’t having any of it. I pointed out that this – this person had nearly broken his father’s heart, that he had turned his back on everything and everybody. If he wanted to go his own way, that was his business – and he should take the consequences.
But Dad just kept going on about him being lost and now found, about being dead and now alive. I thought my brother was the wasteful one, but now it seems that Dad’s gone even worse, lavishing his love on someone who has done so much wrong to him and been such a disgrace to the family name. I couldn’t welcome my brother home, I just couldn’t. Well, what would you have done?
(based on Luke 15:15-32)