The story known as the “the prodigal son” is popular (Luke 15). Christian preachers and Sunday School teachers usually focus on the younger son. They skip the elder goodie altogether.
The two sons were different in their approaches to life. The younger was for indulgence and instant gratification. He wanted to enjoy all that life has to offer in one sip! So, he did not wait for his father to die to get his share of wealth. He wanted to spend it on the type of life that he had been longing to live. So, he forced his father to share his inheritance. He lived the way he wanted until he found himself penniless. His misery drove him to the extent of snatching fodder from the pigs to beat his hunger. However, he repented and returned to the father.
The other one tagged along with his father’s business, never finding time to enjoy life. He is a hard-working loyal son. He was on the farm when his younger brother returned home. The party to celebrate the “prodigal’s” return was already on when he reached home after a long day in the field.
The father reached out to both with equal warmth. When the father saw the younger son walking towards the house, he ran out to embrace him. He did not bother to check if the son is coming to ask for more money or to stay! When the servants told him that the older son is standing outside the house in protest, he went out to him in hurry and entreat him. The father tried to convince him of the reason for the celebration.
The elder son’s worries were two-fold. First, has the younger come back to claim still more of what remains? Once the younger got his due share then all that remains belongs to him. Second, he learned that the father has slaughtered the “fattened calf.” In middle eastern cultures, rich families always keep an animal aside to be slaughtered on special occasions. They tie the animal so that it does not lose weight by straying around. They feed the animal rich food so that it gains more weight. The ancients preferred fat meat to lean. He might have kept an eye on the calf as it got fatter each day which he planned to slaughter on a special occasion in his life whatever it may be. Now, that is gone! That is why he shouted at the father, “you killed the fattened the calf!”
His father cajoled him to come in. He assured him that “all that is mine is yours!” Now, the calf that he was waiting to eat is slaughtered. Join the party and get your teeth into your burger? The father allayed his fears about the share of the wealth and the fattened calf. Why then spoil the party?
It was just a parable that Jesus used to illustrate the attitude of the Pharisees and the Jewish establish who grumbled at Jesus when he accepted the sinners to the Kingdom of God.
Many times, we are party poopers in the Kingdom of God when we refuse to join the celebration that is going on in heaven when a sinner returns to Him. Jesus reminds us: “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
When a person repents and return to God, we refresh memories of their past. The hurts and injuries they caused, the damages of their past life, and so on. That can kill our joy. Ananias did that when Paul (aka Saul) repented and turned to God. When God told him to go and meet the converted Saul, Ananias reminded God of Saul’s wicked track record (Acts 9:11). However, if we are in the complaint and blame mode, we will not be able to join the party of God.
Ananias changed his mind to accept Saul and minister to him. That impacted history through the ministry of Paul to church and the world. That is the opportunity that is open before us when we accept the one who we once labelled sinner a saint in the sight of God. God’s return policy is very liberal. He accepts everyone who returns to him. And he accepts us to be so.
One thought on “The Prodigal and the Party Pooper”
Enjoying your writings, sir, on and off.
Didn’t that elder brother knew where and what his young brother was doing all these days? Because he said exactly what he has been doing, “he squandered his property with prostitutes…!” Perhaps he didn’t want him to return, so never bothered to tell his father where his young son might have been ….