So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20
The elder brother had every right to be stunned at the sudden turn of events. The younger brother arrogantly had demanded his inheritance in advance of their father's death. Their father was sorely grieved, but had agreed. The portion his brother took had depleted the family's wealth and removed assets that might have continued to appreciate prior to their father's death and increased the elder brother's eventual inheritance. Now his penniless brother had returned and his father had lavished him with gifts and thrown a party in his honor. Not only that, but the party started before the elder brother had even returned home from work. Why had he not been consulted? Why was his love, loyalty and hard work not recognized in a similar way? Or in any way, come to think of it? No, he was left standing on the outside looking in as if he didn't matter at all.
His father had come out and tried to explain it. Your brother was lost, but has been found, has returned. It is a time to rejoice. Come on in and join the celebration, he said. I have love enough for both of you because you are my sons. Everything I have I share with you. As he remained in the darkness outside looking in, the elder brother pondered the implication: My father's love is his to share. He loves his sons because we are his sons, regardless of what we do or say. Merit is irrelevant. All that he has he will share with his sons, but my father will lavish gifts as it suits him.
Did the elder brother join in the celebration and reconciliation? Or did he remain outside looking in? I wonder.
Mary Beth Frederick