We all love the parable of the Prodigal Son, and if you’re like me you’ve seen yourself mirrored in his runaway actions. We take joy at the Father who loves us, despite our sin, and the gratitude for being lost, but then found brings us joy. Who hasn’t sung the words to Amazing Grace and thanked the Lord for once being lost, but finally being found? We see ourselves in this Lost, Prodigal Son, but we rejoice that we now have eyes to see! But my question today is, do we truly see? Do we really? Or are we as lost as the second, prodigal son?
It’s easy to remember the son who strayed in the story, the one who was seeped in sin, but came back begging for his Father’s forgiveness. What we disregard is the second son, who (in regards to) at the end of the parable we’re left open-ended. Did he see what the Father was trying to impart?
In the familiar parable, if you’ll remember, the Father rejoices over his lost son’s return. He gathers for him a ring, the finest of robes, and prepares a wonderful feast. What we might forget is the second son, the brother of the lost, who in is own actions is just as wayward. As we read this parable we see Jesus introducing us to another prodigal, one who we cannot know if he was ever found.
The second son stands outside the banquet feast, sweltering in his anger. When speaking with his father he admits his rage and envy.
Luke 15: 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
Upon reading these verses I wondered what Jesus might have been trying to convey, what warning He could offer to us today. I realized that although I had always seen myself as the first son, I had to be careful not to become the second prodigal. The second prodigal was like the church. He was the child who knew his father, and he resided in his home. He wasn’t lost, per se, yet I think he was blind. Even though he lived among his Father, he was blind to his father’s heart. He was blinded by his own pride and selfishness. Do we as believers fall into this trap?
When the lost come to the Father’s house, are we quick to say, “but Dad, look at the way they have sinned against you!”
Do we try and usurp the celebration with our own eyes of judgment? When the Father says love, do we say, “but, Dad?!”
Do we rush out in compassion and open arms like our Father, or do we stand outside arguing why there’s cause for celebration?
Jesus gives us three parables in Luke 15, once again overstating his point, knowing we needed such. He tries to impress the importance of “the one.” The one who is lost, the one who is hurting, the one who needs compassion and a welcoming embrace. Yet, do we, as the second prodigal, get lost on where His heart stands in this matter? Do we instead look at the one as oneself? In other words, do we make everything all about us?
I matter. I didn’t do anything wrong. My sin isn’t as big as his. What about my feelings, my rights, and my opinion on the matter? We miss the Father’s cause for celebration. We miss the Father’s desire to pluck his one son from the pig pen and bring him to the table. We miss our brother is hungry and in rags for clothing. Instead we ask, “what about my goat, or my royal robe?!”
Luke 15: 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
And that’s the end of it. The final line of the parable. I’m left wondering, did he see his Father’s heart? Did he ever understand why he was just as lost, and just as much of a sinner by begrudging his brother? Will we ever understand the same?
The Father’s heart is pure. He doesn’t say to his son, “how dare you squander my wealth? What makes you think you can come home now?!”
And do you see what he says to the second son?
“All you have is mine.”
As believers, we shouldn’t act as nonbelievers. To think another brother is taking what belongs to us, that is putting a limit on the Father’s infinite riches, and this should not be so. We are lost when we worry our brother is taking what belongs to us. The truth is our Father gives us what we need. We are lost when we point out the sin of our brother. Our Father doesn’t pinpoint ours, but offers forgiveness for all. Remember, Jesus did not come to judge the lost, but to save them. We mustn’t take up the gavel. We are lost when we cannot see the Father’s heart for our brother. The only question is, will we stay lost, fuming outside the banquet, or will we heed the words of our Father and join the celebration?
All our Father has is ours. We shouldn’t fear what might be taken. Our Father’s heart is one of forgiveness, compassion, and love. How can we view our brothers and sisters with anything less?
There was a second Prodigal Son that day, and my hope for humanity would be that he would listen to the voice of his Father, seeing that He gives us all more than enough. The parable leaves us wondering, but my hope is that we the church will write the ending. My hope is that we will join with our brothers and sisters at the Father’s table, not looking at what our brother (who was hurting) has been given, but looking at what we (in our own good gifts) may give back.