Focus Text: Luke 15.30
How can two people have such an opposite view of things? The prodigal’s father and the prodigal’s brother were at opposite extremes when it came to the treatment of the penitent prodigal. Perhaps the older son would have granted the prodigal’s first desire and accepted him back as one of the hired servants, but to receive him with so much ado, to the jealous sibling, this was just out of the question!
Hear the hatred in the older son’s response to his father: “‘But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’” (Luke 15.30). Indeed! “As soon as this son of yours came…” Notice it was not his brother; it was his father’s son! What a degrading way to speak of one’s own flesh and blood. The very person who should have been offering encouragement and showing joyous emotion was casting aspersions and showing great disrespect for his brother and his father!
“And he [the father] said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’” (Luke 15.31-32). Omitting all that the father said but one thing, an ironclad case is still made. “It was right!” Those words should have burned themselves into the consciousness of the arrogant son, forcing him to realize just who the players were in this real life drama; he was the son, but the man who decided to accept the prodigal back was the father. Somehow there had been a role reversal and the son was deciding for the father what was right and wrong. The person in authority suddenly found himself answerable to the one who was supposedly subservient! There was something mightily wrong with this picture!
We will close our study of the prodigal on this thought; any and all who decide for God just who it is that He ought to forgive are in great danger! God is the authority; we are not! He is Sovereign; we are but created beings whose duty it is to serve him. He determines what is right and wrong in the human experience, not vice versa. However God treats sinners is His option, not ours! Whatever the situation here upon this earth, we can rest assured “there’s a great day coming” in which all debts of unrighteousness that have not been covered by the blood of the Lamb will be settled. It is of no value to fret and bemoan the fact that those whom we deem unworthy are receiving more than their share! Our lot is not affected by how God threats them; my only concern ought to be how He treats me, and even with that, I can know assuredly, He will be fair.
How much strife exists in this world because we, the creature, want to take the Creator’s place and sit in judgment over those with whom we have issues? I don’t know the absolute answer to this question, but my hunch is that much of the evils of this world would disappear if we would but let God sit in His rightful place and we would be content to sit in ours! This tendency actually boils down to a lack of faith, faith in God and faith that right will ultimately triumph! “What ever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul!”
1. Who had the right to decide how the prodigal should be treated? What say should the older brother have had in that decision? Why?
2. What reasons did the father give to support his claim that what he had done was right?
3. What reasons did the older brother give to indicate that what his father had done was wrong?
4. In what ways do we seek to unseat God and sit in His seat? How about religious leaders in general? How about politicians? How about some scientists? How about judges, lawyers, etc.?
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