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Coria Brock

April 20, 2024

Luke 15:28, New International Version

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in…”

A few months ago, I read a book called “The Prodigal Son” written by Tarone Claybrook. In the book he wrote the following statement, “When we decide to go 'prodigal', we leave casualties laying along the path. Broken hearts, disappointed hopes, lowered expectations. Even hatred or revenge.” This led me to think not about the Father of the prodigal son in the Bible, because He represented the perfect Father in heaven, but I thought of are the parents, the sibling, the friends of real-life prodigals who are simply human beings. They all carry the same human weaknesses, uncertainty about the future, challenges, and difficulties… and broken hearts. When we look at the older brother, we may even see a mirror to ourselves.


Through the parable of the prodigal son, God desires that we know His unfailing love. And it also contains a message about forgiveness, grace, and mercy. At the same time, it demonstrates a similar message as the parable about a master who hires five groups of workers at different times throughout the day yet pays the last group the same amount he pays the first group. He uses these to clearly show that His salvation is a result of His mercy not our own deeds, and He also emphasized that He is always with those who obey Him. He will not withhold any good things from those who belong to Him. Instead, we should celebrate and be glad, because this brother of ours was dead and is now alive again; he was lost and is found. (Matthew 20:1-16, Luke 15:31) However, we shall not misuse the story (the Father’s love) as an excuse to disobey and sin against His grace. God gave us two commandments – love God and love others as ourselves. (Matthew 22:34-40) When we neglect to care for ourselves, and to bring hurt to those around us, we bring grief to the Father’s heart.


When we look at the older brother’s reaction to the prodigal son’s return, we may easily point out how ungrateful he is or how he could have handled it better. When we look at the father and the joy that He has when he sees his prodigal son come home, we rejoice and recognize that our sin can be forgiven, and redemption is truly real. But I also want you to look at this parable as a good reminder to discipline our flesh when we face temptation. As the author of the book stated, “we leave casualties laying along the path”, and they are all loved by the Father. Don’t we all know very well how it feels when we are one of those casualties!?


“Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” (Romans 13:10, NLT)


We may be allowed to do anything (by the free will God given)—but not everything is good for us. (1 Corinthians 6:12) God’s redemption work is offered to us, and His forgiveness is authentic. It doesn’t justify a decision to be a prodigal son though. Taking that path still has consequences that we must go through, and they will not be enjoyable, including being dead and lost. We should be thankful that God has made a way for His children to come back home, though it would still be better to be the older son who remained with his Father and did not leave.

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