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Wednesday, August 23, 2023

The Older Brother

 Luke 15: 25-32

“25 Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 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. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father[e] said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 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.’”

The prodigal son’s older brother is the lost character in Jesus’ parable.  And it was told in such a way that this would happen.  All of the attention is on the prodigal son and his father.  

The older son is angry with the younger son, who took his inheritance and deserted his family.  He has imagined that his younger brother has been having a wild time, living it up, cavorting with prostitutes, while he, the loyal older son, has been sweating under the sun in the fields.  And now, when the prodigal returns, he is welcomed back as if he had never left, as if he had never sinned against his father and his family.

The father tries to console the older son by saying, in essence, “I thought he was gone forever, but he came back.  We had to celebrate.” 

And so, the parable ends with the older brother at a crossroads.  He has a choice to make.  Does he remain angry at this seeming injustice, or does he accept his father’s justice?

In our Christian walk, we will inevitably come to a crossroads.  We cannot take both roads.  We have to choose to follow the road that leads to love, forgiveness and reconciliation, or the road that leads to anger, hate and retribution.   

It is up to us.  It is in our hands.  Which road do we walk?

May the love of Christ be with you

Rev. Eric Lanier (Retired)

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