For me, it seems to indicate an older brother who was faithful in deed (if not necessarily completely in heart) to his father, who was probably angry or at least terribly disappointed with his younger brother for 1.) asking for his inheritance way too early, and 2.) blowing it all on frivolous self-absorption. I imagine they talked about that kid over time at the dinner table, wondering what had become of him, and how stupid he was despite all that his family gave him. So, I suppose that when the older brother saw an impromptu out-of-the-ordinary celebration occurring only to discover it was for the kid brother who finally slinked out of the shadows, he might have felt all that irritation well right back up, along with a self-righteous jealousy because Pops apparently didn’t throw a party like that for him.
It seems as though when the older brother questioned his father on why he would so willingly take the prodigal back and celebrate despite all the likely hurt and shame that guy caused to the family, throwing in the back-hand with “you never did that for me, and I’ve been faithful,” his father reminded him that “yes, you’ve been here for me, but ultimately it’s because I have been here for you. You’ve had the unmatched benefit of living in this family every day for all this time, and no matter what your brother has done with his inheritance and his person, there is nothing available to him out there that comes close to matching what you’ve enjoyed here. And he’s my son, too, who I thought was lost but has miraculously come home. He needs to know how perfectly happy he has made me to re-complete this family, and that he is 100% welcome back. Nothing that he might have done matters; what’s important is that he’s home.”
I know, shamefully enough, exactly what it feels like to be that prodigal son with regards to the life my Lord had set before me, and the life I chose instead. It took a decade of my life, which I will never get back, but He never gave up on me; it’s not in His nature to do so. No matter what I have wasted my time on, and no matter how much time I’ve spent wasting it, I’m still His daughter. No one can pluck me out of His hands, not even me.
“…there is nothing out there that comes close to matching what you’ve enjoyed here…No matter what I have wasted my time on, and no matter how much time I’ve spent wasting it, I’m still His daughter. No one can pluck me out of His hand, not even me.”
That is the essence of the story behind the Prodigal Son’s brother. We have a spiritual inheritance and we cannot be stingy with it.
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright © 2012 David Jeffers