Most of us have at least heard the story. If not, here’s a quick summary:
Kid brother acts like a jerk and asks for his fathers inheritance before his old man has had a chance to enjoy his golden years. He goes off with the money and wastes it all and finds himself eating pig slop thinking about how in the world he got there. After some sulking, he picks up the broken pieces of his pride and walks on home. As he gets closer, his old man runs out and gives him a big-ol’-hug, the family ring on his finger, and has the fattened calf butchered and prepares the place for the party. The kid’s older brother isn’t to happy. He’s been there the whole time and didn’t get so much as a goat killed for his hard work over the years. The dad tells him, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 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.”
That’s about the gist of it.
You’re taught in Sunday School and Church to not be like the older brother. The older brother is a bad man to be made an example of what not to do or be like. That the older brother was wrong and stupid and ignorant. I never thought it was fair for him to get such a bad rap. It wasn’t until recently that I began to understand more clearly why.
I am the older brother.
At the very least, I’m starting to understand where he’s coming from a bit clearer. Sure, his thoughts and emotions don’t make much sense in the story that we are given.
In most situations, I would think that most people would be happy to see a sibling that they hadn’t seen in a long while, especially one presumed dead. Sure the kid brother was a bit of a jerk but family is family, you know. So the older brothers reaction doesn’t seem to match up with what we expect…
Unless this like this happened all the time. The kid brother getting away with no consequences.
As I’ve said, I can understand where the older brother is coming from a bit easier now as my life has been put through a blender and frapped. It makes more sence that he would act that way if there was a pattern of this behavior: the brother does something that should warrent some kind of punishment only to receive a pat on the back, maybe a ‘there, there’ and a hug.
The little brother parked his camel in a no parking zone and got a ticket? Father pays it off. The little brother doesnt take care of his camel and it cant walk anymore? Father lends him his own camel. The little brother starts to beat and mistreat his father’s camel? No problem, Father keeps letting the kid brother use it.
But when the older brother needed a ride to school because the camel caravan came early? He had to walk to school because his younger brother couldn’t wake up on time and needed extra attention from father to get to school on time.
Over and over again.
No matter what the little brother does there never seems to be any kind of justice or consequences. I think the older brother just had enough. I think he was tired that his little brother could do anything he wanted and receive no form of punishment, no lesson for his actions.
I think seeing his little brother crest above the hill was fine for him. Even seeing his father run over and hug his little brother. I dont even think his father giving over the family ring or throwing a party that bothered him. I think it was the nagging though in the back of his mind that nothing had and wasn’t going to change.
He was going to get away with it again.