In Luke 15:11-32, the story about the Prodigal Son. This parable spreads itself across twenty-two verses in this pivotal chapter in Luke’s Gospel. With so much lavish coloring, dramatic pathos, and fine detail carefully woven into this word picture, it seems clear that the vividness of the parable is deliberately designed to highlight the parable’s central meaning.

We’re expected to notice and make good sense of the personalities and plot turns in this amazing story.

The Prodigal Son asked his father for his share of the riches. Now, that’s amazing. Asking was not bad; this boy had a great understanding of sonship.

The Prodigal Son ‘blew it’ and ended up in a pigsty. Later, when he returned home, his father threw a big party. But his older brother wouldn’t attend.

Here was his reason: “…These many years I have been serving you…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 [his father] said to him, “Son…all that I have is yours”‘ (Lk 15:29-31 ).

The father’s rejoicing was rich with tender compassion. The father expressed pure joy, unmingled with any hint of bitterness, when his wayward son came home. Who would not be moved by that kind of love?

Yet the elder son in the parable was not the least bit moved by his father’s love. His steely-hearted resentment over the father’s mercy to his brother contrasts starkly with the dominant theme of Luke 15, which is the great joy in heaven over the return of the lost.

Both sons spent time in the wrong paradigm: one in the pigsty of rebellion, the other in the pigsty of resentment.

One went away and wallowed in self- confidence until he came home to a welcome, the other stayed home and wallowed in self-righteousness.

Because of his judgmentalism, the older son ended up losing more than the younger son:
1) He forfeited the joy of knowing how much he was loved by his father.
2) As the oldest son he was entitled to twice as much of his father’s estate, yet he wasn’t able to enjoy a moment of it.
3) His younger brother was lost and hurting.

What an opportunity to forgive, show grace, help to restore him and have a life-enriching relationship with him. But he forfeited it all because he was judgmental. Don’t be an older brother!

His elder brother, like many other Christians, never had this understanding. That is something children of God should learn from. But the problem was that he asked for these blessings before building the capacity to manage them.