Maybe it's because I am a first born, but I have never particularly cared for the story of the Prodigal Son (PS). (I am implying nothing about Cyberspace, by the way. I'm just telling you what's on my mind. That's why we're here.) Do you know this story? It's in the New Testament, Luke 15:11-32.
There are two sons. The younger one decides he's had it living on the farm and asks his dad for his share of the family fortune. PS goes off and spends it on all kinds of nastiness until finally it's gone. At his lowest point, PS wakes up in a hog pen and decides he's had enough. He know that the lowliest servant at his dad's farm gets treated better than this. He thinks he will go back to to the farm and get some sort of servant job there. When Dad sees him coming, he orders a huge party be made for PS for his return. Older Son (OS) sees all this and goes, "What the heck? I stayed here and did what you asked and you never threw a party for me!" Dad says, "But you always share what I have. PS was lost to us and now he's come back."
It's an amazing story. In my faith journey I have been that Prodigal Son. The one who knew better but did what was wrong anyway. I know the joy of coming back to a Father who was thrilled to see me even though I had disappointed him. I know the incredible freedom of forgiveness from the only one who can really, truly give it without strings attached.
But I know how that OS felt too. I imagine him back on the farm working his chores, hearing stories of how PS was making a fool of himself buying whatever could be bought with Dad's money. How embarrassing could that idiot be? OS must have felt self-righteous. He must have felt self-satisfied. There he was staying the course, working that farm, building up the business for his future. What fun he'd have then.
But there was PS having all the fun now. OS must have felt jealous. To top it off, there's a party waiting for PS when he gets back. Just. Rub. It. In. Now OS is the one who feels like the fool.
Oh, I understand the lesson we are supposed to learn. Both sons were wrong. OS was just as bad for his self-serving attitude and his great lack of compassion for his hurting and remorseful brother.
But when I get the chance, I'm going to ask why the party couldn't have been for both of them. "This is my son who was lost but now is found, and this is my son who stayed put. I love them both."
I know what the answer will be in my heart of hearts. Something about God's word being full of his promises of love and faithfulness, but if you think becoming a Christian means you lose all your questions and you understand every parable perfectly, you're just wrong.