Many years ago, when there was still an American Hockey League team called the Nova Scotia Voyagers, I watched a bench-clearing brawl in the third period of a playoff game. It was a massive fight, clearly begun by my team, “The V’s”. When the referee and linesmen finally regained control, the man advantage on the ensuing power play went to the V’s. In a tight playoff game every win matters, however, to win because of a bad call is no fun. The visiting team left in protest, the crowd booed and I (alone) stood and cheered. They were right to leave the ice. They had been treated unfairly and fairness is better than winning.
So, was the older son, in the story of the Prodigal Son treated unfairly? Many people who have siblings might think so and I suppose if this was a story about worldly families they’d be right. But this parable is about the extreme and awesome love God has for everyone.
In writing this article I took some time to think about how to end that last sentence. Did I mean everyone? If I had written “us” or “Christians” or “believers” or “people who are repentant”, would I have sounded exclusive? It then dawned on me that I wasn’t trying to express my opinion; I was trying to say what God thinks. Well, despite my prayers and hopes and wishes, I do not know the mind of God. All I have to go on is what the parable says. The parable clearly shows God’s love and forgiveness being present before the younger son has a chance to ask.