25 Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ 28 But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. (Luke 15:25–28, NKJV)
The parable of the prodigal son teaches how people choose to respond to God’s mercy. The younger son’s sinful waste, repentance, and his father’s forgiveness typify our sins, repentance, and God’s forgiveness. We must not overlook the elder son’s reaction to his father’s merciful acceptance of his brother. He complained when his father welcomed his brother like the Pharisees and scribes complained against Jesus when He received sinners (Lk. 15:1-2). The older son had been obedient and loyal to his father, but his ingratitude for his constant blessings in his father’s house led him to anger instead of mercy (Lk. 15:29-31). We become thankful sons of God who are ready to forgive others when we plumb the depths of God’s mercy toward us. The elder son’s lack of thoughtful thankfulness kept him from appreciating his blessings and having joyful mercy toward his brother. That is truly a sad place to be in one’s life. Let us respond to God’s mercy by being merciful and forgiving toward others (Lk. 15:32). Then, we will receive mercy (Lk. 6:36-38).