In the story of the prodigal son, the older brother stayed and worked. He must have been a good worker because he didn't even know that anything was going on until it was already in full swing. He had been dutifully working out in the fields. He was pretty shocked at what was transpiring.
His younger brother had gone out and sowed his wild oats. He had broken the heart of his father. He had shamed his family and now he was returning in poverty and disgrace after months of riotous living, gluttony, and frivolity. Probably the older brother thought "well, he got what he deserved!" But now, instead of a stern "I told you so" from the father, there is a celebration unlike any the family has seen in a very long time! It's understandable how the older brother might have been confused about all of this.
When he confronted his father, his father said to him, "son, you have always been with me. All I have is yours. But your brother was lost and now he is found. He was dead to me and now he is alive again!"
As a parent I can fully understand why the father felt this way. We just can't un-love our kids. It's way different than un-friending people on facebook! In these two simple statements, we come to see the Father's heart.
Lk. 15:31 "Son, you have always been with me...."
The Father states his pleasure in that the oldest son has always been near. In fact, I'm sure the Father intended for both his boys to inherit his business and continue to work there until he passed away....close by...near the father. I know most Moms desire that for their children as well. We hate to see them move away.
It has been God's desire from the very beginning of creation to be near the human race. In the Garden of Eden, He visited with Adam and Eve every evening because He desired to have fellowship with them. In the Old Testament we find God dwelling in the tabernacle in the midst of His people. In the prophets we find God coming on his people. In the New Testament we find God dwelling IN His people. In Jn.4, Jesus told his disciples that he was going away to prepare a place for them so that THEY MIGHT BE WHERE HE IS! God's greatest desire is to be close to His people at all times.
Stop and consider this! Almighty God, the Lord and Sovereign of heaven, the creator of all we see and know, the judge of all creation, the one being that is so holy that He stands alone in who He is and what He can do, this God desires to be IN us at all times! OH, how He loves us! So much that He desires to be the reality of our every waking moment! Such love! Such desire! Do we really realize that WE are the object of God's affection and attention? Do we know that God is jealous for us? Do we live with that realization every minute of the day? Imagine how our lives would be different if we did.....and we can!
God is love, but love is not love until it is expressed! It needs an object to express it's love to! We are that object. God created us vessels, jars of clay, cisterns to hold something--to hold HIM! And He wants to pour Himself into us, filling us from the lowest point to the highest point and to overflowing so that we, His body will go into all the world and fill it with Him! WOW! That's incredible!
In Sunday school one of my students asked me "if God knew before He created any of this what was going to happen, why did He go ahead and do it?" The answer can be summed up in three simple words. In fact, the culmination of all the history of the human race can be summed up in three simple words. God With Us! What God had with Adam and Eve was not enough. He didn't just want to fellowship with them in the evening. He wanted to dwell in them! The fall was not unplanned by God. Jesus was not the solution to an unforeseen problem. He was part of the plan for God to go from dwelling amongst His people to dwelling IN his people. So many times I've heard people say, "oh I wish I could live as Adam and Eve before the fall", not knowing that what the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ accomplished is WAY better that what Adam and Eve had, even in their perfected state. This leads us to the second part of Lk 15:31.
To be continued.......