The parable of the prodigal son would have had a heartwarming ending if it ended at verse 24. However, the parable does not end there.
Let’s read Luke 15:25-32 together.
On some level, you may be able to relate to the older brother. He seems to have dutifully served his father over the years, whereas the younger brother went away and frittered away his share of the inheritance. Why should a feast be given to celebrate the return of the wayward younger brother?
Let’s read 1 John 2:9-11; 3:10-24; and 4:20-21 together.
The older brother may have been with the father the whole time, but he lacked his father’s compassionate and loving character. He may have outwardly served his father loyally, but perhaps it was only out of familial obligation and the expectation he would receive his inheritance in due time.
Let’s read Luke 18:10-14 together.
The failure of the Pharisees in this parable mirrors the failure of the older brother. They both compared themselves favorably to other people and looked down upon other people with contempt. They esteemed themselves better than they actually were in the eyes of God.
Let’s read Revelation 3:14-22 together.
A self-satisfied Christian is in as much danger of missing out on heaven as an avowed atheist. We may be better than other people as far as sin goes, but we are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), even if we have less sin than most people.
The story of the older brother reminds us that if we truly love God, we will also love people just as He loves people (Leviticus 19:18; Luke 10:27). We should have compassion upon those ensnared in sin and do our part in bringing them to Christ (Jude 1:22-23). We should rejoice just as the angels rejoice when someone forsakes their worldly past and accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
We must follow Jesus’ example and love our brother in word and in deed. If we do not do that, then our religion has no value. Friend, will you love your fellow man as much as you love Jesus?