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“But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” (Luke 15:32)
One line stood out to me as I read the story of the lost son. When the angry older brother confronts his father about the party he’s thrown for his younger brother, he uses an interesting phrase. “But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” (Luke 15:30)
He calls his younger brother, “this son of yours”. Does that sound familiar? We use similar words when we don’t want to be connected to, or take responsibility for, a particular person. If I tell my sister, “Your Dad needs help,” I expect her to do the helping not me. If I say to my husband, “Your son cheated,” I’m suggesting he should take responsibility for the child’s behavior and address the problem.
The older brother in Luke 15 didn’t want to have anything to do with the rebel who returned home. The parable makes his attitude crystal clear. But look at the father’s response. He turns the phrase back on the older brother by calling the lost son “this brother of yours”. In essence he’s saying this lost boy isn’t just my son, he’s also your brother.
Just like the father in the story, God draws us in. He shows us we need to care about the lost, the troubled and the rebellious. God rejoices when a sinner repents of her ways and returns to Him. But that’s not enough. The rebellious one isn’t just God’s child he’s also our brother. We need to join in the celebration.
God, I confess that sometimes I’m not happy about a rebellious person coming back to You. In a twisted way, I think Your mercy lessens the value of the effort I make serving You. Forgive me and help me to rejoice over “this brother of mine”. Amen.
Questions: Why do we need to join in the celebration of a sinner coming back to God? What keeps you from joining the celebration?