But the older son was in the field. And having come, as he drew near to the house, he heard music and dances.
And having called one of the children, he inquired what this may be.
And he said to him, Your brother came, and your father killed the fattened calf, because he received him back in health.
But he was angry and did not desire to go in. Then coming out, his father begged him.
But answering, he said to the father, Behold, so many years I serve you, and I have never transgressed a command of you. And you never gave a goat to me, so that I might be merry with my friends.
But when this son of yours came, the one devouring your living with harlots, you killed the fattened calf for him.
But he said to him, Child, you are always with me, and all of my things are yours.
But to be merry and to rejoice was right, for this brother of yours was dead, and lived again; he was lost and hewas found.
This son has been off the stage for the bulk of the story. Now he has come to centre stage. The spot light is on him. He was in the field, the same place Esau was in the Jacob story – off stage, in the field. (Gen 25:27, 29) What was he doing in the field? I imagine most of us have the sense that the elder brother was "working hard in the field" while his brother is being treated right royally at home. That is not the case. The word used for elder brother is [presbuteros]. It is the same word used for elders of the church in the New Testament. It is the root of the word from which we get term presbytery and Presbyterian – a church structure based on the concept of elders. This elder brother is an "elder" indeed. He is not slaving in the fields, despite the fact that he lays claim "to being treated like a slave". He is clearly the manager of supervisor of the farm, either in his own right or on behalf the father. If it is on behalf of the father, then he knows one day he will have the dispersion rights to the farm and can do with it as he pleases. Surely that is enough incentive to keep him keeping on? He has come in "from the fields" where he has been sitting in the shade sipping and snacking and supervising the farm labourers. Can you imagine what would happen if the younger son were to become a hired hand under the supervision of his elder brother? I will leave that thought for you to ponder.
Take a moment to think about the attitude of this elder boy. He has received his inheritance as the same time as his younger brother when he ought to have protested such a request and told his father he would not do such a thing which would shame the father and the family. Not only has he taken up the offer but he has stayed at home in his father's household. He is most likely managing the affairs in his father's name while the father is still alive. As I told yesterday he likely has possession rights but not disposition rights, unless the statement by the father in verse 31 hints at early disposition rights. If that indeed in the case then clearly he "hopping mad" at his father for killing HIS fatted calf for his no account brother. I suspect however that he has possession rights and not disposition rights as he would not make the comment about "never giving a goat to me to celebrate with my friends" if he had disposition rights as well.
Note the attitude that pours from this boy. As seen yesterday, he launches straight into "all these years I have slaved for you". Said with an accusatory tone. Slaved for who? Who is this all for? It is all yours, as far as you can see. Your younger brother has gone, sacrificed his portion and cashed up. All you see is yours – literally. Note too his comment about his brother. Clearly there is no love lost there. We don't know the background to it all but it is clear this older brother has an attitude problem. He can't even bring himself to say the name of his younger brother. Instead he says, "this son of yours" instead using his name. The usage here is one of derision and scorn. It perhaps demonstrating his attitude toward the younger brother but more to the point, scorn toward his father. Seemingly accusing his father of the situation concerning his younger son. Tantamount to saying it's your fault he's like that.
When he gets back to the family home and hears what is going on he reacts. His natural self comes out. You can't hide your natural self or your attitude. It will spill out when the vessel (you) is bumped. He gets angry and petulant and refuses to go in. There are many words for it. He packs a sad. There's a party going on inside but he has a pity party outside. We don't actually know for sure what set him off. I have suggested before that you ask Luke or ask Jesus the questions to background we don't know about when you see them. You could ask this older son himself if you see him. But I am not sure that we will actually see him.
Isn't it interesting that what ever happens in the present "to upset our apple cart" (an idiom for shake our equilibrium or cause things to fall apart) we may well start dragging up the past? One of my father's favourite sayings seemed to be "just like it was in Bower Avenue". He was referring to an incident that happened when I was 18 months old and he wanted discipline me but my mother refused to let him spank me. So he took offense and from that moment on it was like he took his hands off me and he would refer often to "that son of yours". You can tell this parable strikes a chord with me. I can almost hear my father saying these words as I write. My father couldn't get over the thing which became an issue for him and it coloured the rest of his life and created a major problem for my mother and me (guilt by association). How incredibly sad! All my growing up life with my father I felt like I was "that son of yours". I am sure you know what I am saying. I am sure too that you know I am not telling you this story to get these things off my chest. I have dealt with these issues already. I have forgiven my father and squared it all away. I am extending this Gemz for your sake.
Deal with your own past hurts. Sort them out, or like the older son you will carry a chip on your shoulder all your life and be mad at the world as a result. You are in control of your own attitude; or at least you should be. When we are constantly mad at the world it is time to take a look inside and do a little self examination.
Do you realize it is just as much a sin to take offense as it is to give offense?
Learn to deal with your inner baggage, or like at the airport, all will see your dirty linen. Ian
Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude. Martin Luther King, Jr
Do you realize that the common denominator in all your bad relationships is you?