Prodigal Series Day 14: Older Son, An Open-Ended Ending

What we are going over today is often overlooked, but its really not our fault! The ending of the parable differs depending on which version we read.  Don’t get me wrong, the tried and true translations end in the same way, but if you venture into a storybook or children’s version you will surely notice some differences.

Some don’t mention the older brother at all.  Others do, but picture him going arm-in-arm with his father and brother into the party. 

But did that actually happen? 

We actually don’t know because Jesus doesn’t tell us.  It’s an open-ended ending, with the older brother left in an alienated state. 

Wait, what?!  The obedient son is left outside of the feast while the “more” sinful son is joyously celebrating inside? Yep. That’s exactly how this is playing out.

The Pharisees surely would have seen this as a grave injustice.  Afterall, they do everything correctly…right?!  We know, that not really the case.

Can the Pharisees enter the party (i.e., the Kingdom)?  It depends. 

Will they admit their wrongdoings and repent, or will they remain Pharisees, so close yet so far from the celebration?  They are so close they can see it.  They can smell it.  They can hear it.  But will they join?  That’s totally up to them and their next move. It’s not the older brother’s wrongdoing but his righteousness that is keeping him from sharing in the feast.

As we wrap up our second week together, let’s reflect on these words from Timothy Keller:

The heart of the two brothers were the same. Both sons resented their fathers authority and sought ways of getting out from under it. They each wanted to get into a position in which they could tell the father what to do. Each one, in other words, rebelled but one did so by being very bad and the other by being extremely good. Both were lost sons. Neither son loved the father for himself. They were both using the father for their own self-centered ends rather than loving, enjoying, and serving him for his own sake. This means that you can rebel against God and be alienated from him, either by breaking his rules or by keeping all of them diligently.

Timothy Keller, Prodigal God

Remember: regardless of how we rebel, God is there to accept every single one of us who turn back toward Him.

Next week, we are going to put together everything we have learned so far. We are going to recognize what all this tells us about the father figure, which, in turn, will teach us how we ought to respond. 

See you back here tomorrow for the last portion of our time together? I sure hope so!


Accompanying Playlist

Did you know I created a worship playlist just for this series?!

Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home!

Previous posts from the Prodigal Series

Miss one? I got you covered! All teachings from this series are found here.

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