Prodigal Son, Part 5: Insiders Get Left Out
Jesus saved one of the greatest lessons from the parable of the prodigal son to end the story with. A lot of people miss it. In Luke 15:25-32 we get reintroduced to the "good son" who never strayed. Only we learn that you can't be a good son without being a "welcoming brother".
If you pass judgment on others you deem unworthy to enter Heaven, and I've met quite a few Christians of that ilk, you need to pay close attention.
Upon the prodigal's return, the father was ecstatic. He hosted a great feast in honor of the occasion of a wayward child finding his way back home. The older son's response is understandable because it's recognizable. It makes the story much more relevant.
It seems the older son was put out by his father giving a party in honor of the son who was salvaged. "I've served faithfully for all these years while that scumbag lived high on the hog (pardon the pun), and squandered what he took from us." I'm sure he genuinely felt betrayed on his father's behalf, because he saw his father's resources as finite and felt what his brother took and wasted diminished the family treasury.
He didn't share his father's joy and enthusiasm. He refused to come inside and join the celebration. When you judge wayward brothers and sisters as unworthy to sit at the table you are not only being ungodly, you are being adversarial. You are the one who is dampening the festivities and diminishing the treasure. The chest isn't filled with material objects or impressive accolades. It's composed of whatever pleases the Father!
If you make the Father happy, you belong at the table. The wayward son coming home made the Father very happy. The compliant son's effort to restrict him, undermine him, and avoid him made the Father sad.
It was fitting that the son who didn't rejoice and couldn't understand what the Father was looking for above anything else should remain outside to pout. On the day the "good son" came to his senses and learned to rejoice with the rest of the family, he was welcomed back into the house. I doubt the younger son objected.