I remember when Harry Caray was broadcasting a baseball game with the Philadelphia Phillies. Something happened and the crowd began to boo the team.
Caray remarked with his typical humor, “They’re so hard to please, that they’d boo the Easter Bunny.”
Unfortunately, there are people who view the world in such a way that they are unable to rejoice when God shows grace and love to people.
The Problem of the Elder Son
The Parable of the Prodigal Son ended with a complaining elder brother.
You will recall that Luke 15 began with the religious leaders being critical of Jesus’ table fellowship with tax collectors and sinners.
They said, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15.2).
Jesus responded to their complaints by telling three parables. Jesus’ parables were rhetorical devices aimed to win over an audience to the speaker’s point of view.
Jesus told the parables with the intention of helping the religious leaders rejoice over the transformation of tax collectors and sinners because of Jesus friendship with them.
Why can’t some people rejoice over God’s grace?
As we look at the last portion of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, we will see some of the heart-issues of people who can’t appreciate God’s love.
(1) They can’t understand the reason behind God’s love and grace, because they don’t ask God to help them.
— Luke 15.25-28a – “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.
“He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on.
“He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’
“Then he became angry and refused to go in.”
Criticism is not a spiritual gift. When we are tempted to be critical of someone or something, we need to talk to God about it.
If we only talk to our friends, who happen to agree with our critical spirit, we will end up looking like the elder brother in the parable.
The elder brother refused to enter into the celebration of his brother’s good fortune. Let’s not find ourselves in that position.
(2) They are so intent on the justice of their grievance that even God can’t change their minds.
–– Luke 15.28b-30 – “His father came out and began to plead with him.
“But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends.
“But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’”
Our nation is more polarized into various camps than at any time I can remember.
People have very different opinions about race, religion, politics, the economy, and sexuality.
Like the elder brother, they are able to marshal arguments in support of their opinions.
This parable encourages us to listen to the Father, rather than bombarding him with the “rightness” of our beliefs.
The question is whether we are willing to submit our opinions to God and seek his guidance.
In the case of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, God had a message for the elder brother.
— Luke 15.31-32 – “Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
“‘But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”
My prayer for us is that we will be able to embrace the spirit of the Father’s response to the elder brother.
May we adopt the attitudes and actions of Jesus in every way.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this portion of the parable on YouTube. Rudy has excellent information in the video that you will not want to miss.
The videos are on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.