Everyone loves the parable of the Prodigal Son. It’s my favorite because I was him in vivid detail. We know what the Father did. He ran. He ran to his son abandoning everything normal. Embracing his lost son was all that mattered. But what about that other brother? Whatever happened to that guy?
Holy Week is in full swing. All the stores are laden with merchandise. Men who haven't worn ties all year are getting ready for Sunday to put on that tie. Momma’s across the country are hoping for that perfect picture in front of the church or in the yard so that they can look back and say “hey, look at these cute kids!”
But where do those brothers come into the Easter story? One, to be sure, knows the full weight of Easter. If anything, his actions had prepped him for his place on a cross somewhere. He had descended as far in the human experience as one could. He had abandoned his family, given himself over to the world, and become destitute in a faraway land. His only hope was mercy, and he threw himself at it. Indeed, when we are at our lowest, most times, all we can do is throw ourselves at mercy. I have.
The “good brother” though, what does he know of this mercy. Luke 15:28 clearly states that he became angry at the Father’s action of mercy and forgiveness. You can almost feel the intensity and the anger of his response:
But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ (Luke 15:29-30)
The brother’s rage is palpable. “How could you do this? How could you forgive him!? Don’t you know what he has done?” It seems logical for the “good” brother to ask these questions. “Here this jackwagon is coming back home after spending all my dad’s money and now my dad runs to Him and makes it all ok? Not only does dad forgive him but restores him to equality with me? How could he do this? I’ve been nothing but loyal while he was off with whiskey, women, and wild living.”
The good brother’s need for mercy is shown clearly in that response. Certainly, he has been the obedient one. He has tended his father’s realm. He has done all “the things” that a good son should do. But even though he has been in the presence of the father, the one who constantly yearned for his son to come home, he didn’t understand mercy. He could not fathom the forgiveness that resided in the father for his lost son.
Not sure where you find yourself this Easter season; the prodigal on his knees, or the scoffing brother. As my choir director says, we shouldn’t just jump straight to Easter morning. We need to feel the weight of this week. We shouted “Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday and are awaiting shouting “Up from the grave…!” this Sunday. But we need to go into the depths of this week. We need to feel the betrayal that Jesus went through. We need to feel the loneliness. We need to consider that Jesus was aware of suffering and horror that was coming. And mostly, we need to embrace again and again and again that He willingly chose it.
He chose to experience utter despair. He chose to allow betrayal. He chose to permit His own execution. He chose those things so that you would be free to choose Him. I always chuckle to myself a bit when I hear someone say “I’ve found Jesus.” I chuckle because it was Jesus who went searching through persecution, death, and the grave to find you and me.
This Easter season, know that you are loved by a Savior that would choose His own death as a bridge for you to be returned to right relationship with God.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.
I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.
(Stuart Townend Copyright © 1995 Thankyou Music)
Happy Easter to the prodigals and the “good” sons.