Luke 15:25-32 The Message
If you have grown up in the church and have lived a life within its walls, you have no doubt heard the story of the prodigal son many, many times. As many of you have as well, I have heard every angle of this story except, perhaps, that of the fatted calf! Or at least I thought.
Recently, I was prompted to read this story again. As with anytime I read scripture, I pray that God will speak directly to me and reveal something afresh to my spirit. This time, I was truly seeking God with an open heart and longing spirit.
Are you a “Do Gooder”? By this I mean, do you always want to do the right thing? Does your conscious just scream for you to always follow the rules; obey the laws of man and God; make sure your bed is made in the morning before leaving your room for the day; you know, always wanting to do what’s right by everyone? Do you cry out to God when you see injustices? Do you question God when you see someone or ones that you KNOW do not do the right thing ever seemingly always win? You know of whom I speak…the ones that ALWAYS seem to come out on top no matter who they must step on to get there.
In our scripture reference, I believe the “good son” has gotten a bad rap. If you are like me, you have heard this story told, retold, preached, taught, and regurgitated for years. In every scenario, the good son is made to come off as selfish, rude, mean, unforgiving, etc. BUT God showed me a new perspective in my recent reading. Maybe, he too, was a do-gooder really upset.
Our introduction to him in verse 25 says, ““All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in.” Poor guy. The older son had been doing what he did every day – working in the field; getting the job done; doing the right thing; being an obedient son. We are not told he was doing this for recognition or fame; he wasn’t looking for an “atta boy!”; he was doing his job and serving his father like he did every day.
When he gets near the house, he hears all of the commotion and inquires as to what was happening. I picture that he may have had somewhat of a furrowed brow but a spirit of anticipation. He was hearing laughter, partying; people were hugging one another, and a feeling of joy was present. BUT, when he finds out the reason for the jubilation, I believe his anger is more out of hurt than malice. Can’t you see him looking at his father with tears in his eyes? Perhaps he was feeling deflated; rejected. “‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief…” (v29) Can you relate to this? Have YOU ever cried out to God with a similar pain? “God, why? I try my best to serve You. I love You; I never go against Your Word as much as humanly possible. I pray; I study. Yet, here is so and so and they always get ahead. They never step foot in a church and even mock Your Name and they STILL don’t suffer…”
The father’s reply to this is even a tender one. I envision the father placing his arm around the son’s shoulders, pulling him close and tenderly responding, “‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours…” (v31) Softly, sweetly, the father lovingly focuses on his eldest son, reminding him that, not only am I with you all of the time, but I take you with me all of the time too. You need but use whatever you have access to at any moment because it all belongs to you.
As with all of His parables, I believe that God truly has a message for all of us in this story. Whether we are the son that squandered his life but found his way back home, the eldest son that sought to do right by his father always, or even the fatted calf that was born for such a time as this, (I’ll have to ask God to show me that storyline) God loves us all. He cares so deeply for us that He even tells us in this passage that He takes us with Him every day.
So, if you have ever found yourself in the “Do-Gooder” role, take heart! God sees you; He knows your heart and motives. Remember, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9
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