To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
“A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
“When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. ’
“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. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 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.
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
“The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 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. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 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!’”
This passage continues a response to the complaint:
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
“Son of yours…brother of yours”
Disobedience has consequences. We can take the warning that is implied against looking at the grass on the other side of the fence as the younger son did. This involves taking our eyes off the Lord and the expectations He has of and for us. It involves looking elsewhere for satisfaction for ourselves. And the almighty self has arisen! Looking elsewhere led to disobedience and unfaithfulness. For these, God has said from the beginning we will be punished. There will be consequences. However, there is forgiveness for the repentant and that includes reinstatement into a relationship with the Father. It does not restore what was spent; it does restore what was lost.
And if the Father can forgive so should we. We do not suffer the consequences of disobedience if we are faithful and able to forgive. An unforgiving attitude is disobedience. Each of us has our own relationship with the Lord. We will reap a harvest in kind with what we sow, if we sow that which is good, we reap good and in that place will be able to forgive those repenting of sowing the seed that brought them suffering rather than standing in judgment of them for what they did. The Father has the right to judge, not us. Let us keep our relationship right with the Father.
The older brother said:…”son of yours”; the father replied:…”brother of yours.”