The older brother – the one also hurt by the younger brother’s decisions – he is filled with anger. Here stands his brother, who has made wrong choice after wrong choice, who has hurt the family, probably ruined reputations, squandered wealth and riches.
…and that younger brother is welcomed home…
And to Hope.
Many of us have been born in a Christian family and stayed close to the Father all our lives – like the older brother. And we have been saved, safe, and protected from so much that others have had to struggle with. God is faithful – God has remained faithful!
What about those in our lives – yours and mine – who have squandered their Father-given gifts? Do we struggle to extend grace to those we do know? Why did the prodigal’s brother have such a hard time forgiving his own sibling, but may have forgiven a stranger much more quickly?
Maybe because the pain is very real. Maybe because for as much as we would like to view ourselves as Christ-like, the reality is that we’re still human. We aren’t actually Christ. We can only ever be Christ–like.
When we are hurt, angered, betrayed, its human nature to put up walls, to defend our name, our honor, our own life. We want revenge, or justice, retribution, vindication. We wonder why, when we stay on the straight and narrow path, bad things happen to us. But isn’t that the way of this cold, cruel world?
This world is not our home. We were not created for this world. We were created to live in this world for just a little while, and then to have eternity with Jesus! And so we will have trouble here – because this isn’t our home.
This world is just our journey to our Home. And our Father, who created us, knows our hearts. We can express all of our feelings to Him. We can tell Him, as the older brother did, just how angry we are at the seeming injustice. We can point out how we haven’t strayed, we haven’t been a black mark against the family, we haven’t disgraced our father, or our Father.
Those of us who have the testimonies of staying near to God, as the older son stayed near to his father, we have access to God – we always have. We have all we need in Him – we always have. We have all of who He is, working on our behalf – we always have. We have all of the things that God can provide, and all He can do for us – we always have.
Isn’t it just like Jesus to tell such a story of hurt, betrayal, anger, frustration, faithlessness and faithfulness, and then to end with the only thing that’s truly important?
At the end of it all, isn’t salvation the only thing that’s truly important?
Isn’t that the only thing that’s truly of worth in this life?