By Lynn Jones
The story of The Prodigal Son is a classic story told by Jesus. It tells about a boy who left home with his share of the inheritance and went to a far away country where he wasted all his money. When he found himself with few options left, he headed toward home. His father saw him coming a long way off and ran to meet him. He kissed his son, gave him a robe, a ring, and shoes, and killed the fatted calf for them to eat at a welcome-home party.
A Sunday School teacher asked her students, “When the prodigal son returned home from the far country, who was not happy to see him?” One little boy said, “The fatted calf.” That probably was true, but there was another on this farm who also was unhappy to have him home. It was his elder brother.
In fact, the elder brother was so displeased to have his younger brother home that he refused to go inside and join the party. His father came out to try to persuade him to come in, but he refused. He said to his father, “It’s not fair. Here I work myself to death on this farm, and what do I get for it? Nothing! I have been mistreated. No one cares for me.”
They were having a party inside, and out in the yard, he threw a little party for himself. It was a pity party, and no one else cared to come.
The striking thing about this elder brother is that he represented the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. They resented His inviting sinners to come home to Him (Luke 15:1-3).
These religious leaders were resentful of Jesus’s grace that He was extending to sinners. In this story, the father was welcoming his son home although he had done nothing to deserve such a welcome back. The elder brother resented his brother’s coming home and his father’s greeting him with such forgiveness and grace.
I wonder what would have happened if the prodigal son had met his elder brother on the road before he saw his father? Would he have made it home?
And what if some person turns timid steps toward home from the far county and he meets us? Would he keep coming? Are we lavish in grace and forgiveness like the father or lavish in resentment, anger, and self-pity like the elder brother?
One of the classics in musical theater is the story, “My Fair Lady.” In the musical there is a famous song, “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” In a play on words, R. C. Sproul says that our problem before God is that “We’ve Grown Accustomed to His Grace.”
Don’t ever get accustomed to His grace. It is “amazing grace,” and we should show our kinship to the Heavenly Father by extending it to people around us.
Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.