Week of Feb 20th — Day Two

February 22nd, 2011 | Tags:

            Day One   |  Day Two   |  Day Three   |  Day Four   |   Day Five

Day Two

The elder brother takes cen­ter stage

The prodi­gal son’s brother had been out in the field and there­fore com­pletely obliv­i­ous to all that had hap­pened in his father’s life that day. That meant he was also unaware of the cel­e­bra­tion that was already under way at his house.

It appears that it was late in the evening when the elder brother showed up. The party was already full-blown. It is a strik­ing fact that nei­ther the father nor any­one else had told the elder son about his brother’s return. In all the excite­ment, no mes­sen­ger had been sent to bring him the glad tid­ings, and (even more telling) he had not even been asked to assist with the prepa­ra­tions for the cel­e­bra­tion. That is extremely sur­pris­ing because with so much to coor­di­nate, and so many tasks and peo­ple requir­ing over­sight, the help of some­one with the cloud of a nobleman’s first­born son would cer­tainly be a great ben­e­fit. In fact, the respon­si­bil­ity for set­ting up and over­see­ing the arrange­ments for an event like this in that cul­ture would nor­mally fall on the shoul­ders of the eldest son. Party plan­ning was hardly a patri­ar­chal duty.

In this case, how­ever, before the elder boy he even came into the pic­ture, all the prepa­ra­tions were com­plete, the entire vil­lage had been sum­moned, musi­cians and dancers were already lead­ing the fes­tiv­i­ties, and the party was well and truly under­way. Why was the elder brother not told about all this before now?

There’s only one rea­son­able expla­na­tion. The son had no bet­ter rela­tion­ship with his father than the prodi­gal did when he first left home. The father surely knew that – even if no one else did. Any onlooker from out­side the fam­ily might not notice any obvi­ous ten­sion between the father and his first born. But all his sup­posed faith­ful­ness and com­pli­ance with the father’s will was just a sham. It was noth­ing more than his way of get­ting what he wanted – approval, affir­ma­tion, wealth, land, and pres­tige in the com­mu­nity. In real­ity, this boy was every bit as estranged from the father as his open rebel­lious younger brother had ever been.

The fact that he was not quickly sum­moned as soon as the prodi­gal arrived seems to be clear evi­dence that the father could see what was really in the elder brother’s heart. The father knew the real truth about his first­born son, even if it was not obvi­ous to every­one else.

Read ; ; .
What does Jesus, like the father in the para­ble, know about people?


That’s why the cel­e­bra­tion began with­out him. The father prob­a­bly antic­i­pated how the elder brother would react to his younger brother’s home­com­ing, and there­fore he delib­er­ately did not bring him into the process early. He didn’t need this young man’s sour, sulk­ing atti­tude to be a wet blan­ket on such a fes­tive occa­sion. Besides, the boy’s pas­sive aggres­sive antag­o­nism would have been no help at all – in fact, it would’ve been a seri­ous imped­i­ment dur­ing the prefa­tory stages of putting on a great feast like this. So the father sim­ply let the elder son remain in the field while he him­self orga­nize the cel­e­bra­tion, invited the guest, began the party, and acted as sole host.

If you had been the old­est sib­ling in this story, would the father have sent for you? Why?


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21 And the scribes and the Phar­isees began to ques­tion, say­ing, “Who is this who speaks blas­phemies? Who can for­give sins but God alone?” 22 When Jesus per­ceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you ques­tion in your hearts? (ESV)

24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust him­self to them, because he knew all peo­ple 25 and needed no one to bear wit­ness about man, for he him­self knew what was in man. (ESV)

42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. (ESV)

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