The Hope of the Older Son
The elder brother is consistent. He remained with the father, true to their relationship, with fidelity and loyalty. He is responsible. He is noble. He is not moved by the temptations of his inheritance. But he is angered. He is upset that his selfish brother is being celebrated for his foolishness. He is hurt that he himself has never been celebrated for his righteousness - for his goodness - for his stability. Where is his reward? To what avail must he continue to be a good steward, with a good attitude and relationship with his father? What is his motivation to continue on his course, without having to be "lost and found?"
We come in all sizes and shapes of the prodigal. But we also come in similar dimensions of the elder brother. We are consistent with our Father. We try. We persevere in the work before us, and do it tirelessly - yet our reward is ambiguous. Our affirmation is hard to come by. Our consistency is never condemned - yet is never applauded either. We are the faithful servants. We want equity, and we want justice. We do not want much, but we want our measured allotment. We want our fair share.
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with 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.’”
There must be hope for the older son. The father loves them both - passionately, recklessly, and with the fullness of his fatherhood. The father pleads with the older son. He does not leave him out. He is upset that his son is not celebrating. The father goes out of the celebration and pursues the older son. The father believes the celebration is for the older son also. The celebration is not only just celebrating the younger son - but his "foundness." The fact that he is found and alive again is worth the celebration, and the older son is welcome into this celebration.
Even more radical and compelling, is the father's first statement to the older son - "You are always with me, and everything I have is yours." The older son is bitter while having always been with the father. Everything the father has belongs to the older son, but he is upset. He is entitled to everything, and has been with his father the entire time.
When our "prodigal brothers and sisters" receive their welcoming home celebrations, does it trump your inheritance? When the lost becomes found, does it take away from our consistency? The father reaffirms the elder son with what is true and certain. Everything he is and owns is still for the elder son as well. And the elder son was always with the father.
To be always with the Father is not the shorter end of the stick. We may think so because the fuss isn't about us. We like to be the center of the fuss don't we? We enjoy being the one celebrated - but can we be humble enough to be a part of the other celebration? - This is the core question. When the world is being applauded for their minimum and lackadaisical efforts, you never need to question your inheritance. Being always with the Father is a picture of Eternity. Everything belonging to you is a picture of the Kingdom of Heaven. The elder son is not being underrated or put to the side - the elder son is being lifted up. He is equipped with Divine Provision. He is being granted the keys to the impossible. His faithfulness is being accounted for, and his brother's return does not discount anything he has done for His father. His brother's return in fact has something very special for him - a celebration of the lost - a celebration that things can be returned - a celebration that things can be whole again - a celebration that is inclusive - a celebration that restoration is a fiery blaze of the Father's heart.
Being the elder son requires a desensitization of glamor. When you do not require celebration, you are engaging with the keys of heaven. You are being given the eyes to engage with the treasures of darkness. Your Father has always been with you. Everything that is His is yours. Now walk like the elder statesman that you are.
Peace, and much love to you - Jeevo.