Day 27 – The Bitterness of the Hardened Heart




Yesterday, we witnessed the huge change in the younger son. In him, we see what true repentance should be like. It is his determination and the resulting actions that moved his father's heart. The father looked beyond his sinful past in order to receive this penitent son with wide open arms. The father understood that it was much easier for this son to permanently walk away from him.

Facing the huge damages done which required extraordinary effort to make up, the younger son could have simply chosen the easy way out by escaping from his sinful past. Instead he chose to face it head on, and to face it every day of his life in his father's house.

By choosing to come back, the son not only needed to submit himself to his father, but he would also likely be under his brother's rule or even some of the hired workers he ill-treated before. His life would be miserable to say the least. All these did not deter him from mending his relationship with the father. That moved his father.

His father treasured all these and his son’s humility and contrite heart.

The brother, however, perceived things differently. Imagine how he felt when he witnessed his younger brother demand his share of the inheritance and how his father surrendered to that absolutely outrageous demand. The elder brother must be furious! This wayward brother did not work but he got the reward which he did not deserve in the first place. He must be mad at both his brother and his father. To him, the whole situation was totally absurd and made him sick.

His anger confined him in the past. He could not move beyond this unresolved history. He was incapacitated by his self-righteousness and resentment.

To him, this kind of sinful action should not be allowed to happen, let alone tolerated and forgiven! From the moment this incident occurred, this elder brother must have been living in bitterness and grudges. He was only sustained by his loyalty to his father and by following the rules. He could barely go through each day by swallowing his anger resulting from that grave injustice in his eyes. The whole situation bothered him so much that he needed to be buried in his work in hopes that one day his years of labour would finally be paid off with his share of the inheritance, the remaining wealth of his father. That is why he paid so much attention to the whereabouts and news of his brother even though his brother was in a distant country. Notice that he knew his brother wasted all his father's property with prostitutes! (Luke 15:30) How would he know if he did not spy on his brother? Knowing all these were happening, he harboured intensified anger against his younger brother. He could not stand to think about it, let alone seeing his brother's return to the father's house and was accepted without any consequences. "What?! Celebration?! That is insane!" he exclaimed. "Will this crazy son threaten my share of the father's property?" he thought to himself.

At this point, you might also share the anger and sentiments of the elder brother, which is understandable. That is why this parable is also known as the "Parable of the Prodigal Father". But imagine what would happen if the father felt the same as the elder brother did. What would have instead happened to the younger son when he returned home? How would the story be different? And would the resulting story be a parable Jesus would use to illustrate the Father's Heart and His lavish love for us? That is something for us to ponder…


If you were the younger son, what would have prevented you from finally arriving at the father's house?

Are you like the elder brother being trapped in some form of bitter past or resentment against someone?

Are you disturbed by the unfairness the father displayed towards the elder son by forgiving the wrongdoings of the younger son?


Dear Abba Father, I have found myself struggling between identifying with the younger son and the elder son. I see myself sometimes behaving like the younger son, and sometimes like the elder brother. In any case, I know I am lost. I am like a lost sheep without You, Lord! I am lost and trapped within my own limited and bitter thinking. Please enlighten me with Your Light and Your Wisdom! I desire to see what You see —— the ability to look beyond all the sinfulness and brokenness of the younger son, of me, and of those who offended me. Inspire in me Your Spirit of forgiveness so that I too, will be able to let go of any past wrongs against me. Set me free, O Lord! I want to be free again!

I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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