“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
– Luke 25-27
Following on from yesterday where we remembered that the older brother was a good son, we find more evidence of his obedience because while his brother was reuniting with his father; he was in the field, working.
In fact, it is because he is working that he misses the arrival of his estranged brother and that the celebrations that started.
When Jesus is telling this story, he’s creating deliberate parallels between the characters and his audience.
Overall, the association of the Pharisee with the older brother is negative.
However, just as the older brother was clearly a good son, the Pharisee were good people who were returning ‘home’ to an unannounced celebration.
Jesus was surrounded by sinners and tax collectors, he was spending time with the unclean and the immoral. The things he said and the signs and wonders which he did were catching the public imagination. People were excited. They had hope.
He was widely considered to be a prophet.
But, he hung out with the ‘bad’ people, and didn’t go to the Pharisee directly.
Many of the Pharisee would have heard about Jesus initially through other people, just as the older brother had the celebration explained to him by a servant.
There’s a sense here that for some reason, the good people are being left out.
Perhaps Jesus puts it best elsewhere when he says,
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
– Mark 2.17