The second focus in this three part series on the Prodigal Son, focuses on the Elder Brother, the son who stayed behind and helped his father as a son should. To bring fully the message of this section of the text it is important to remember that Jesus was addressing a group of scholars who were ridiculing him for spending time with sinners. Within the parable the elder son is representative of this crowd of scholars and the younger son is representative of those who have chosen to follow after Jesus.
The second section of the story is Luke 15 verses 25 – 30 within this section, we see that the brother has noticed the celebration and calls for a servant to receive an explanation, finding out that this was in celebration for his brother who had returned home the older son was angry and refused to join the celebration. His father, noticing the hesitation, comes to see if he will join the party. The elder son denies his father citing that it is unfair and that he has been slighted. This section of scripture portrays the attitudes of individuals who become disgruntled at other people being lifted up. So much so that they are wounded in their pride believing that because the other is being celebrated that they are being slighted despite the fact that they are the responsible or dutiful one.
This section of scripture paints the decision made at a crossroads we all experience throughout life a multitude of times. We can either be excited and joyful and celebrate others, or we can harbor resentment and hurt because we are not the ones being celebrated. For Christians who grow up in the church and stay within the arms of God this is especially difficult, I have heard a great many friends say that they wish they had some story or testimony about how they turned away from God and they were brought back into the fold. I think this desire to have a more Prodigal journey can come from one of two places, the most common is that there is an internal issue about self worth and the worth of their journey, however it is possible that a small portion of these claims is due to the fact that some churches may be spreading a message that the testimonies of prodigal sons and daughters is the normative Christian experience. The struggle of christians who find themselves being disgruntled by the celebration of others is to recognize that their disgruntlement is a sin in and of itself and that they are just as lost as the prodigal sons and daughters.