Luke 15:25-31 —— “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’
“But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years 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. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots; you killed the fatted calf for him.’
“And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.
We are going to study repentance for the next few weeks. Jesus gives us the parable of the two sons in the Gospel of Luke. The younger son comes back home after living a life in sin. He comes back with a repentant heart and His father forgave him. This will be our main focus in this teaching.
Often we assume that the Parable of the Prodigal Son ends with the wayward son returning home. But there is a second part of the parable that we must ponder if we want to understand Jesus’ whole teaching in this passage. It’s a kind of parable within a parable.
Many, if not most, of you are either an older brother or an older sister. You know what it is to be responsible for your younger brothers and sisters. And you know the kind of resentment a renegade sibling can cause in a family — especially in the heart of the “good” older sibling. The errant brother or sister has dishonored the family, cheated the parents, has shown himself or herself to be a worthless loser who deserves nothing — nothing at all.
That’s the situation we find in this family: a father whose heart has been broken and is now overjoyed, a no-good son who has come home and is having a fuss made over him that he doesn’t deserve. And the older brother, who does deserve a little recognition and thanks, feels taken for granted and bypassed in favor of his worthless, renegade younger brother. It’s easy to imagine, isn’t it?
The older son is out in the field, far at the corner of the estate where he hadn’t heard the goings-on. He is ever dutiful, ever working in the fields as he ought. When he gets to the house the party is well underway. The musicians are playing and the household is dancing. The fatted calf has been slaughtered and is cooking, sending delicious fragrances into the air. There is laughter and noise and rejoicing. That is what the older brother hears. He asks what is going on and gets an explanation from a servant.
REPENTANCE DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING IF YOU KEEP DOING WHAT YOU’RE SORRY FOR.