If you missed part one, click here.
Are you a son or a servant? The story of the prodigal son continued…
The Love of a Father
What the prodigal son cannot see, while he is among the weeds, starving, coming up with a plan to make it back, is that his father is at the end of the road, waiting. He had every expectation of his son’s homecoming. He knew the money would only last so long, and that he would come back. Don’t you think the community watched the son leave, after dishonoring his father in demanding his inheritance? The younger son set off in full view of their town, off on a grand adventure, while the neighbors gossiped. And yet, the father would check the road – is today the day my son returns?
The father is already waiting and when finally he sees his son coming, he picks up his robes and runs! Embarrassing is his extravagant emotion – his son is home! The son is already forgiven, but he does not know it and he will have trouble accepting it. The son finds himself in a hearty embrace and already the rest of the household is coming to greet him. They say their master’s example and suddenly a robe is placed around his ratty clothes. A valuable ring is slipped onto his finger. And he is strangely standing in brand new sandals. Immediately restored to his full sonship, accepted in the Beloved.
The Older Son
Like a dutiful eldest son he is, the older brother is working hard in the fields when he stands up and hears a tinkle of music in the distance. Wondering, he draws near to the house and sees a party is happening. Without him? He asks a nearby servant what is going on. WHAT? His foolish, irresponsible baby brother who has disgraced the family has come home? And this is how everyone reacts? Anger blinds him and he throws a temper tantrum, refusing to go in.
Like he came to his younger son, the father comes outside to see his older son. The hardworking, responsible son gives an impassioned speech. “All this time, I have slaved away for you. Always obeying, never questioning, doing double the work, and this is how you treat HIM? You never even gave me so much as a day off with a meal to celebrate with my friends! My brother, who has whored around and wasted what we worked so hard to build, is now inside at a party? Tell me how this is fair.”
If you are anything like me, you will see how much sense the elder brother makes. Of course, he is the hardworking one! Of course, where is his reward for his faithfulness?
Until you remember, this is a son talking to his father. Only this is an employee talking to his boss. He is addressing his father as if he is positioned as an employee. “I worked overtime for you and this is how you thank me?” He is a perfectionist, he has never disobeyed, ever. He cannot even see anything he has ever done wrong because he is blinded by his self-righteousness.
Oh, right to my heart, this cut deep.
Am I a Servant or a Son?
This, according to our teacher, is a servant mindset. How many times have I wanted to sit down for a performance review with God? Lord, please! Check off the boxes, tell me I am doing a good job, promote me or demote me according to my performance, and send me back out into the fields of striving, under the hot sun of a yoke that is difficult to bear.
“When we are servants, we can’t even ask for what we really want. And even if we got it, we wouldn’t know how to enjoy it.”
The elder stayed home and did not how to have a relationship with his father. He remained but he was acting as a servant.
The younger son went out, royally screwed up, and returned home attempting to become a servant. They both misrepresented their father to themselves. They both wanted to control their father’s view of them. They both entirely missed the point.
The father said to the elder, “Son, you are always with me and all that is mine is yours.”
The younger demanded an early pay out of his inheritance, before his father died. The elder son played by “the rules” and worked to perform to become worthy of his inheritance once his father died. So who really lost their inheritance? The younger son who went off and squandered money? Or the elder son who remained faithfully home and chose to work in the fields over having a relationship with his dad?
Those who have an elder brother mindset (my hand is up) will be angry with the acceptance of the younger brother because it.is.not.fair. WE HAVE EARNED SOMETHING and the younger has wasted it.
But yet I hear a voice coming on the wind….
Keep reading! Part 3 coming soon.