But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. Luke 15:28.
Mark the points in the parable. The elder brother coming from the field, hearing the sound of rejoicing, inquires what it all means, and is told of the return of his brother, and how the fatted calf has been killed to provide for the feast. Then is revealed in the elder brother selfishness, pride, envy, and malignity. He feels that favor to the prodigal is an insult to himself, and the father remonstrates with him, but he will not look upon the matter in the right light, nor will he unite with the father in rejoicing that the lost is found. He gives the father to understand that, had he been in the father’s place, he would not have received the son back, and forgets that the poor prodigal is his own brother. He speaks with disrespect to his father, charging him with injustice to himself while he shows favor to one who has wasted his living. He speaks of the prodigal to his father as “this thy son.” Yet notwithstanding all this unfilial conduct, his expressions of contempt and arrogance, the father deals patiently and tenderly with him….
Did the elder son finally come to see his unworthiness of so kind and considerate a father? Did he come to see that, though his brother had done wickedly, he was his brother still, that their relationship had not altered? And did he repent of his jealousy, and ask his father’s forgiveness for so misrepresenting him to his face?
How true a representation was the action of this elder son of unrepenting and unbelieving Israel, who refused to acknowledge that the publicans and sinners were their brethren, who should be forgiven and should be sought for, labored for, and not left to perish, but led to have everlasting life! How beautiful is this parable as it illustrates the welcome that every repentant soul will receive from the heavenly Father! With what joy will the heavenly intelligences rejoice to see souls returning to their Father’s house! The sinners will meet with no reproach, no taunt, no reminder of their unworthiness. All that is required is penitence. The psalmist says, “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else I would give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”—Signs of the Times, January 29, 1894.