22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ 28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ 31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
Not only did the father reminded the older son that he treasure their relationship more than the work and that the son already had access to all of his resources but now he tells him:
- “It’s my party, so come join me!”
There are many who miss the main point of the passage, and what the father was really saying to the son in verse 32: “We had to celebrate this happy day.” The verb here is an imperative, what the father was saying is it’s not your younger brother’s party, it’s MY party. The Father was celebrating because his son was dead and was now alive, he was lost but is now found. The father was calling the pouting son to join the party not for his brother’s sake, but for the fathers sake. The party was not for the Prodigal son it was for the loving father. This is the point we so often miss in all the three of the parables of Luke 15, its about celebration over lost things being found. These three parables point to the wonderful work of the Trinity. The Shepherd found the lamb, which represents the work of Son of God. The woman found the coin, which represents the searching work of the Holy Spirit. The dad forgave his wayward son, representing the forgiving work of God the Father. All three of these parables end with a party, and what God is saying to His people is, come and join me in the celebration. To the pouting prodigal, God is saying it’s time to stop the pouting and start the party because there is joy in the presence of angels over one who repents. The older son pouted because his focus was on the faults of the prodigal son not the forgiveness of the Father. He had been serving his father faithfully for his whole life, but it was from a sense of duty not desire, out of obligation instead of out of love. His father wanted to celebrate with his older son, he was willing to share all that he had. But the older son thought of himself more as a servant than a son, because while he was obedient to his father, he didn’t have a loving relationship with him. The irony is that the sinful son asked to be a servant but was treated as a son, where the older son rejected relationship and acted like a servant. How sad that the son never enjoyed his father, but that is the reality for all pouting prodigals. They go so wrapped up in the rules that they miss the relationship. He like many of us missed the point, the father wasn’t rewarding the sinful son he was rejoicing over the results of repentance. God wasn’t celebrating sin he was celebrating salvation. What about you do you have a pouting perspective or one of praise? Unfortunately today there are many in the church who are passing up the greatest party on the planet because they have a pouting perspective instead of a praising perspective. We end up missing not only the mercy of God but the miracles of God. Instead of participating in the praise we end up perpetuate the pouting. The older son’s pouting led to a poisonous perspective, and like him we too can end up walking around scowling instead of smiling. We start ministering out of an angry attitude instead of ministering out of mercy. Instead of looking up to God in praise we look down on people in pride. A pouting perspective will never position you to praise it will only poison your life and cause you to focus on fairness instead of forgiveness. So how does the story end? This is probably the most dramatic part of the parable because it’s here that Jesus leaves us hanging. Does the older brother remain in his pity party, stomping off to nurse his bitterness and anger? Or does he change his tune, uncross his arms and allow his Father to put his arms around his shoulders as they go together into the house and celebrate God’s forgiveness as a family? Jesus left the parable open-ended not just on purpose but for a purpose, because it’s up to you how the story ends. Jesus leaves the door open for us to decide, so what will you do? The door is open and our loving Father invites you to come and leave your bitter, calloused and complaining spirit at the door so, that you can participate in the praise. What will you choose the poison of pouting or the praise of the party?