Jesus was about to expose the hearts of the Sanhedrin and others who cared more about their own spiritual well-being rather than others. Let us continue from where we left off from part one: After the younger son went inside with his father, the older son was coming in from his duties in the field.
The Hard Hearted Cannot Forgive
25 “Now his older son was in the field. As he came close to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked, ‘What’s going on?’ 27 The servant told him, ‘Your brother has come back, and your father has slaughtered the calf that was fattened up, because he has gotten him back safe and sound.’ 28 But the older son became angry and refused to go inside.
The brother who went off and tried life has come home which makes the father very happy. I am guessing it had been quite a while so the elder more obedient son was fully set in his ways and had taken on some of the younger son’s tasks. I would probably be happy to see him return so he can resume his duties but that is not the point here. The elder son is disappointed because there was never a celebration in his honor. But why would there be. He has done exactly as he should have, or so he thinks. His refusal to accept and be happy that the younger is similar to the distaste certain faithful people have when a person who was a known sinner returns in repentance. It is hard to accept someone back when your heart is hard and does not truly remember or understand God’s Love, Compassion, and Forgiveness.
“So his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 ‘Look,’ the son answered, ‘I have worked for you all these years, and I have never disobeyed your orders. But you have never even given me a young goat, so that I could celebrate with my friends. 30 Yet this son of yours comes, who squandered your property with prostitutes, and for him you slaughter the fattened calf!’ 31 ‘Son, you are always with me,’ said the father, ‘and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead but has come back to life — he was lost but has been found.’”
So, is the “obedient son” really obedient? He is the faithful son or so we are led to believe at first. This man stayed by his father’s side all those years working for the father in preparation for the day when he would receive the blessings that are rightly his. The eldest son represents the self-righteous who hear but do not really understand.
Anyone who claims to be in this light while hating his brother is still in the dark. The person who keeps loving his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him that could make him trip. But the person who hates his brother is in the dark — yes, he is walking in the dark, and he doesn’t know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 1 John 2:9-11
The Pharisees of the day paid lip service to God and the people but secretly sinned and thought that their outward appearance and works guaranteed a spot at the heavenly banquet. These are the ones who let man’s law and traditions interfere with the truth even though they thought they were doing what God asked of them. Forward to modern times, he represents zealous believer who cannot accept the penitent sinner as brother in Christ. But God has compassion on them as the father showed compassion on his elder son. If we believe and are unable to love our neighbor as ourselves then we are being like the brother who did not accept the younger. In fact he saw the younger brother as a threat and would not forgive. He chose suffering and isolation over restoration and reconciliation.
For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours. Matthew 6:14-15
He allowed anger to take root in his heart to the point that he was unable to forgive or show compassion towards his brother, and for that matter the perceived sin of his father against him.
But for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:5-7
Let’s recap for a moment what we learned here:
1. In order to be accepted into the house, we must accept the poor sinner who desires His mercy.
2. Do not be hard hearted towards a new believer but welcoming. Do not shut a door
3. God’s Love is the same for all believers so when a new believer comes to the fold, rejoice do not be jealous of his/her acceptance no matter the past if the person is known to you.
4. Suffering and isolation keeps you away from the joys of heaven. Being in a relationship with other believers, sharing stories of God’s Grace, Love, and Mercy with believers and the lost, and welcoming those who come home is what God desires of us.