Begin by reading Luke 15: 11-32
If you search the Internet for videos of soldiers returning home, you will get plenty of results. In each video, there is usually a family member who is unaware of what is about to happen. They don’t know that their loved one, who is supposed to be far away, is actually in the next room. They have no idea the person they have been longing to see has returned home early to surprise them. Then in an instant everything changes. The soldier steps into the room and nothing else matters.
It is hard to not be moved by these videos. The emotions are so far. Even as a stranger watching them on a computer screen, you can feel the job and the relief that comes from knowing a loved one has come home. They are back… safe and sound!
In the book of Luke, Jesus tells us a story about a different kind of homecoming. We see a father and his two sons. The youngest son greedily asks for his inheritance so he can leave home and travel the world. This son spends his portion on frivolous pleasures and ends up alone and destitute. In his desperation, he decides to return in the hopes that he might be allowed to be a servant in his father’s house. Yet, as he nears his home, his father rushed to him and accepts him back. The father restores his son to a place of honor in the household and immediately calls for a celebration.
Meanwhile, the older is on his way home from working in the father’s fields. As he draws near, he hears music and dancing. Confused, he asks what is going on, and he is shocked to learn that the celebration is for his wayward brother. The same brother who demanded money from their father and then deserted the family. The older son is angry. He refuses to join the party choosing instead to remain outside of his father’s house. Just as he left the house for his Prodigal son, the father goes out to the older son, and begs him to join the feast. But, the older son will have none of it. He feels betrayed. All of the time that his brother was gone, he served dutifully and in his opinion received nothing in return. His brother squandered the wealth of the father and somehow is being rewarded for simply coming home. It isn’t fair. That is where the story ends. One son has been welcomed back and one son refuses to enter into the celebration.
This week we will look at this story in more detail. There is much we can learn about our own journey from the characters in this parable. We will see how our actions often mirror that of the younger son. We are just as frivolous and wayward. We choose temporary things that leave us empty. And just like the younger son we need to return to the Father. We will also examine the older brother. The one who stayed. The one who was faithful. His story is our as well. His refusal to join the celebration is a warning to us. Is it possible to do all the right things and still miss out on the real reward? In both cases the invitation is the same. The Father who loves and accepts us is actively pursing us. He is inviting us to come home.
Day 1 of 7 from the 2017 Mission Discovery Devotional