Imagine for a minute how differently the prodigal son story would have played out if the father hadn't been there to intervene. What if instead it had been the good son who greeted the prodigal?
There would have been no happy reunion. No hugs and kisses. You can be damned sure there'd be no fattened calf or homecoming party. The good son would have lain back and watched his brother approach, his indignation growing with every approaching step.
By the time the prodigal reached the front door, the good son's anger would have been boiling over, and his first words might have been something like this: "Look at you come crawling back. Why did you even bother? You used up your share of the inheritance. And what do you have to show for it? Nothing. Well, don't think you can share mine. There's nothing for you here. Everything Dad left is for me. I did all the hard work while you blew it off. I earned it and you don't deserve it. Dad wanted me to have it. Now go away and don't come back.....ever!"
In some ways the good son's mistake (thinking that he has earned his own salvation) is the more problematic one, because it makes it harder for the prodigal to return. Versions of this scene play out every day in real life between Christians. Half the reason people stay away from the church is because they know that the good sons and daughters are waiting at the door to judge and reject them when they try to enter.
From Jay Bakker's book Fall to Grace: a revolution of God, self and society, pages 91-92
Have you ever felt unwelcomed somewhere, because of who you are or what you've done?
How can the reality of the father, waiting with arms wide open, be lived out by those who follow Jesus?