I am feeling a little bit torn on my topic of discussion today. I feel like it is only appropriate that a blog concerning Christianity and a relationship with Christ should talk about the resurrection on Easter sunday…but that is just not where my mind is taking me today. And it must not be were my pastor’s mind was taking him either because he decided to teach about the prodigal son this morning. Go figure.
In fact I was actually a little irritated when I realized the message in church today was going to be about the Prodigal Son. First of all, I just “studied” this parable earlier this week and second of all, as I described in this blog, I just don’t like this story because I really cannot relate to the prodigal son. In fact the whole title of the blog was “what about the brother?” What is the point of the story when you do not relate to the prodigal son but you really can only relate to the older brother. Well God must read blogs because the first thing my pastor said this morning was that Jesus was not telling this story for the benefit of people who relate to the prodigal son, but instead for people who relate to the older brother. I was shocked. I have never once heard this and I have heard this story a thousand times.
There are three characters in this story; the father who represents God, the prodigal son who represents a sinner, and (here is the kicker) the older brother who represents a pharisee or in modern day, a holier-than-thou religious member. Great…I sympathize with the one character in the story that in real life I cannot stand. Do you think God is trying to tell me something? The older brother was actually described as someone who is proud and looks down on others who do not choose to live a lifestyle like their own. It was harsh realization. Just a few days ago I was telling the world how I relate to the older brother in this story, and then the following Sunday I find out the older brother represents an arrogant ass. It was like looking into the mirror I never wanted. It was actually kind of funny, because the whole time I was listening to this sermon I was thinking that it must just be the way the parable is told because in real life I am not jealous or bitter and I am certainly not proud or think I am better than others. I kept thinking that the older brother was still completely justified in being angry, and that anyone who was listening couldn’t possibly argue with that. The older brother seriously got screwed. It wasn’t until the service was almost over that I figured it out. I don’t know what exactly my pastor said but it was one of those what-would-jesus-do type of comments. If the older brother in this parable had an attitude of Christ, how would he feel in this situation? Would he be angry, bitter, jealous, proud, or would he care ONLY about his brothers well-being and welcome him back as his father had? I think the answer is obvious… so obvious that it took an entire Sunday morning service for me to figure out.