“Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. “So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. “And he said to him, `Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. “So he answered and said to his father, `Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. `But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ “And he said to him, `Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. `It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.'” (Luk 15:25-16:1 NKJ)
Most of us know the story of the son that goes off, squanders his inheritance on wild living. He figures that if he comes back with his well-rehearsed story, the father might hire him as a servant. To his surprise when he comes back the father put a coat around him, a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. Reinstated as a son, the father throws a party, and even kills the fatted calf. All that was missing was the elder brother.
The father goes out to the field to see what was wrong, and his son tells him his complaint.
1. My brother comes back having sinned and gets a party—that’s not fair.
2. I’ve been working like a slave and received nothing.
3. Not even a goat that I might celebrate with my friends.
The father reframes the son’s story, telling him that he has always been here and all that the father had was his, he just needs to take it. Even the fattened calf was available, even though all he wanted was a scrawny goat. Besides, your brother has returned, should we not rejoice?
The father returns to the party, leaving the elder son outside in the field, so bitter and unforgiving with weeping and gnashing of teeth.