Lost At Home

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Not much comparatively is said about the attitude of the elder brother of the prodigal son in the parable Jesus taught in Luke 15. Yet, the story of this young man is as striking as that of his sibling who sinned against his father when he left the family home after demanding his inheritance.

While the penitent son was lost in a “riotous living” (v. 13), away from home, and was therefore symbolically living in an environment he didn't belong, his brother was equally lost even though he stayed home. He was, so to speak, lost at home.

He was lost at home in the sense that he seemed not to value the blessings and favours he had always enjoyed in his father’s home and continued to enjoy after his younger brother left. He felt a stranger in his own home. He was lost because he was consumed with anger and envy. He envied and resented his brother for the treat he received from their father upon his return home, having repented and asked for paternal pardon. He showed no compassion for his brother having missed the blessings of home; instead, he denounced the joyful welcome he received.

Notice that when he came home from the field and discovered that his father had organised a feast to celebrate his brother’s return, he refused to go into the house until his father begged him to. Once in, he rebuked his father saying, “I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends” (v. 29). Then, speaking to his father of his brother, he said, “But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him” (v. 30). He chose not to speak of his brother as his sibling, referring to him as “your son”, that is his father’s son. He accused the younger brother of squandering the part of their father’s wealth received in inheritance “with harlots”, thus dwelling on the sinful life he had lived.

The father’s reaction to his son’s return, on the other hand, was a sharp contrast.

 

Luke records how greatly excited he was when he saw from afar his wayward son approaching the house saying that he “had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (v. 20). After the lad showed remorse for his wrongdoing, the father ordered his servants, “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry” (v. 22). The father went on to say, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found”. A celebration concluded that scene of the narrative (v. 23).

So much as the wayward son represents penitent believers confessing to the heavenly Father for the purpose of obtaining remission of their sins, he is worthy of appreciation and encouragement and love. In fact, the Bible declares in Luke 15:10 that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” The decision of one to repent and become a child of God through faith in Christ is to be commended, because it causes rejoicing in heaven beyond the fact that it constitutes a personal blessing. It’s something absolutely and inherently good.

And so, for someone to be against it is evil. Such was the attitude of the elder brother. It’s an act that fundamentally amounts to an opposition to God’s plan of salvation and a show of contempt for the blessings salvation brings about. It is an attempt to frustrate Jesus’ messianic mission. Luke said, “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

The lost are those who “like sheep have gone astray” from God and “have turned, every one, to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). They basically live away from God in sin. Their situation is much like that of a pig “wallowing in the mud” (2 Peter 2:22 NIV). But reconciliation with God, as was showed in the lead article of last week’s bulletin, is possible and available; it takes place in the church.

In view of the aforementioned, the elder brother was guilty of evil and needed to repent. We need to avoid being like him, because he did not have a heart. Let’s always try to guard ourselves of the mistake of standing in the way of a child of God, or a penitent believer, who wants to make things with God. Let’s not forget that when people come or return home (which is the church), it’s not the time to fuss about the sin that has overcome and caused them to cut ties with God. It’s time to rejoice.

Constant Coulibaly

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