In every single one of His teachings, Jesus was always aware of who His audience was, and how they viewed themselves. He was a master at communication, captivating crowds with His stories that challenged people to see the world differently from the way they had before.
Jesus never intended to end His story with the younger brother returning home like many may have expected. He had an alternate ending in mind that would cause the Pharisees to have to take an honest look at their attitude toward others.
In Verse 25, we see the older brother confront his father, upset that his younger brother was being celebrated and welcomed home despite his bad decisions. You can almost hear the entitlement in his words. The older brother is essentially saying, “I’ve always done everything right. I deserve to be celebrated, I’ve earned it.”
Like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, many people have this same entitlement today. So many of us feel that we’ve done everything well; we’ve followed all the right rules, we’ve been a “good” Christian. We feel that we’ve earned the right to cash that in and have God give us what He owes us.
But Paul boldly reminds us in Romans 3:23-24 that we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God. This is a key concept that the Pharisees, and many of us, miss in our understanding of Jesus.
Christ didn’t come to save the bad, and reward the good. Regardless of whether we’ve taken God’s stuff and run with it like the younger brother, or hung around church our whole lives to impress God with our good behavior, we fall short of the goodness of God. Everyone is in need of being saved. Thankfully, Jesus has already done the saving.
Regardless of where you’ve been, or what you’ve done in life, Jesus looks on you with overwhelming love. He is a God that joyfully runs to you, throws His arms around you in a warm embrace, and calls you His beloved child as He welcomes you home.
What are some things you’ve done in an effort to earn the right to be called a child of God?
Watch the final installment of the short film Home Again and consider how you’ve acted like the older brother in your relationship with God.