The Other Son in the Parable of the Prodigal
August 18, 2020, 11:44 AM

The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 does not end with the return and restoration of the wayward son. Jesus continues the story by telling us of the response of the elder son. This portion of the parable is directed toward the Pharisees who in the context were complaining that Jesus had been receiving and welcoming sinners. Now Jesus is pointedly rebuking their attitude. He drives His point home in verse 29 with the son’s angry response to his father. As Jesus tells it the son says to his father, “These many years I have served you, neither transgressed I at any time your commandment; and yet you never gave me a young goat so that I might make merry with my friends.”

This son pats himself on the back for his years of faithful service. Certainly his father should treat him better than he is treating his brother. It is apparent that he believed that the basis for obtaining his father’s favor was his works. And additionally, he has decided that the father’s love can only be expressed one way – by throwing a big party.

And so rather than enjoy his father’s display of grace toward his brother, he resented it. Jesus is exposing the attitude of the Pharisees. Sinners did not deserve God’s favor. And so therefore, Jesus could not be God in their warped perspective.

It doesn’t matter whether we are socially acceptable sinners like the Pharisees; or socially unacceptable sinners like the prodigal. The Father reveals His love and grace toward both. He seeks the sinner and rejoices when they are restored to fellowship. God is a Father who celebrates over lost sons who return.