God goes all out in love, above and beyond.
25 ‘Meanwhile, the elder son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 “Your brother has come,” he replied, “and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.”
28 ‘The elder 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!”
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.”’
From the elder son’s perspective in this story, it must feel like the father doesn’t love the two sons equally. He feels like he has earned his father’s approval, but always working hard and doing the right thing. Anyone with siblings can probably relate to this feeling. But most parents would probably know it’s not that simple.
I do think it’s important that he does address the elder son’s concerns. The elder son always has a bed to sleep in, probably shares meals with his father every day, and remember he still has his own half of the inheritance waiting for him.
Right now, the father in the story is in celebration mode. He’s not thinking about who has done what or who deserves what. He’s seeing his youngest son again for the first time in years! He had every right to turn the son away, or even to just forgive him and call it even. But he goes all out in love, above and beyond. This is our picture of how God acts towards us.
Head: Who in the story do you identify with most? The father, the elder son, or the younger son?
Heart: Can you think of a time when you have felt like the elder son?
Hands: How would you react if you were in the father’s situation?
Prayer: Lord, all of us are your prodigal children. We have turned away from your love and grasped at other things – money, lifestyle, power. We know you offer us your unrelenting forgiveness, and your love. Your angels celebrate for every child that returns to you. Amen.
A song to listen to: This is Love
Living Church Creek Road