“this son of yours ..!”
The two brothers seem completely different in every way. Yet at heart they are very similar.
Both want their share of the father’s wealth and display no love or respect for their father at all. Both reject, insult and humiliate him and walk away from him.
They are different in the way they live out their selfish desires. The younger goes off and squanders his wealth in wild living. The elder one stays at home and falsely assumes the role of an obedient son ‘slaving’ for his father – solely in order to keep his eye on his prospective wealth and be there when it becomes available.
There would appear to be no relationship between the two brothers. The elder one refers to his younger brother in scathing and dismissive terms. He does not acknowledge their relationship but calls him ‘this son of yours’ when speaking to his father. It has been suggested that the super-pious and harshly critical attitude of an ‘elder brother’ might be one of the reasons for a ‘younger brother’ leaving home in the first place.
As a society we can often be more tolerant of the cold-blooded elder brother types whom we don’t like rather than the more warm-blooded younger ones who disgrace themselves and become socially less acceptable. This can be true of some church groups as well which explains why the very people who seemed to flock to Jesus would often never dream of coming to church.
There’s a challenge there for all of us.
What determines how I respond to different people?
Father please help me to be careful about how I think and speak of others, even when they offend me. As You have forgiven me please help me to be prepared to forgive others. Amen.