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.
When you reduce the issue to it's essence we can see clearly the older son's response is totally irrational. I have spent the last few weeks with my grandchildren and I have been amazed at times what things spark arguments and crying and "melt downs" between them. Generally it is because of wanting what they don't have. One child has what the other wants. One takes a piece of cake and the other wants it too. They didn’t actually want it until the other took it. Then when they see their brother or sister with it, they want it. It is a comparison thing. Yes these are MY grandchildren. I confess it. Where did they get this wrong attitude? It came from me, I got it from Adam. James talks about this tendency within us.
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don't they come from the evil desires at war within you?
You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can't get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it.
And even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.(James 4:1-3)
Do you think James had grandchildren? Did he get his insight by observing them? No, he got it from the source of all Truth. If we are honest we will understand we adults are just like little children too. We struggle in the same area even though we are older and supposedly wiser. At times when you observe children you wonder how can pettiness be perpetuated. Fights and disagreements start over the smallest of issues and continue with strange interchanges such as: "It was his fault, he took mine first." "I didn't!, She did it first." "You did so too." "Didn't." "Did." "Didn't." "Did, did, did."
Can you detect the pettiness of the older brother here? What he says is, "I won't go into the feast because you wouldn't give me a goat to celebrate with my friends." I am sure you will agree, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. If he wanted that, he was perfectly positioned to make it happen. Even if his father had the last word on the matter, he still could have asked, or put the proposition to his father. I suspect he just didn’t ask. It is like James writes: You don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it. I noticed things go unsaid by my grandchildren but then when "push comes to shove" they claim they asked or they said that. But in actual fact they didn’t. It is so like us humans. The things that remain unsaid, we either think we said, or we play the pity card claim that we made our need known but it was not met. We blame others for the things we wished we had said. We like to wallow in self pity it seems. Interesting isn't it. One son was in an actual physical pig pen of his own choosing and the other son was in a "pig pen" of bitterness, resentment and self pity – again of his own choosing. The second son appears to be making judgements of others based on his sense of self-righteousness. People, a sense of self righteousness will trip you up every time. It's dangerous! Don't entertain it.
In fact I think the older son had it all at his disposal but he failed to enjoy what he had. He forfeited it all because he was judgmental of both his father and his younger brother. If indeed he did have to ask his father for the permission to kill the fatted calf (which I don't personally think he did) then likely as not "he didn't get it because his motives were wrong."
A number of times over the last couple of weeks, my grandkids have got themselves so worked up and emotionally angry over something trivial that was actually their fault or the results of their wrong choices. In times like that one looking on thinks, "How sad. If only they could see that they themselves are making themselves upset. They have no one else to blame but themselves. I just want to calm them down and help them see that the answer lies within them. As I reflected on that, it is like that is exactly what is happening with this father and his sons. Note the father's reaction. "Child, you are always with me and all of my things are yours." The word child is [teknon] not the normal word [huios] which is used in the rest of the parable. But the father changes the word. This word is a word pregnant withloveandaffection. It is like the father is saying "oh my dear child" "my dear son", can't you see I am with you for your good. Furthermore, all you see is yours. All that is mine is now yours, so what is your problem? You are getting yourself so worked up over something unnecessary.
Does that sum up many of us? Our response is irrational but we just can't see it. And what's more, if anyone tells us the truth it makes us angrier. We need counseling but we are not in position to receive it. When we are in that position the advice we are given by parents care givers, counselors and friends is exactly what we need to be able to get back our equilibrium but our bitterness and resentment gets in the way. We just want to stay mad. The only person we hurt is ourselves. Now that is sad. "Oh, my dear child . . . "
There is no evidence whatsoever that men are more rational than women. Both sexes seem to be equally irrational. Albert Ellis
A tendency toward the irrational lingers within each one of us.
Having a child is surely the most beautifully irrational act that two people in love can commit. Bill Cosby