January 13, 2022

The Unrighteous Brothers

Luke 15:11-32

The younger one said . . . “Father, give me my share of the estate.” . . . [The older one said,] “Look! . . . You never gave me even a young goat. . . .”

—  Luke 15:12, 29

In the 1960s a musical duo emerged and became famous as The Righteous Brothers.

Jesus’ parable that we have read today could be titled “The Unrighteous Brothers.”

Both of the brothers in this story felt entitled. Clearly, the younger son was unrighteous, demanding his share of his father’s estate even before the father was dead! And the older son, though he stayed and worked hard for the family, was no paragon of virtue. He was furious that his father would waste even one calf on his reckless younger brother.

Both needed forgiveness. The younger brother realized it, saying, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.” But the older brother didn’t have a clue. His only response was a heart of stone toward his brother and toward his forgiving father.

Both had received their ­father’s generosity. The younger brother was given his inheritance before it was due, and he did not deserve a welcome-home party. And as the father reminded the older son, “You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” The one son was blessed twice; the other son was promised everything. In the words of a grand hymn, “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy.”

Our Father in heaven, we are unworthy children. Help us to love and forgive each other, as you love and forgive us, for the sake of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Amen. (AM)

About the author — Al Mulder and Bonny Mulder-Behnia

Al Mulder served as a church pastor in Kansas, Utah, and New Mexico and in ministry roles with denominational missions in North America. He is a member of Madison Square Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Al and Joanna Meyer, both widowed, married in 2020. Together they have eight children, 19 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren.

Bonny Mulder-Behnia began work in ministry after a career in journalism. While serving on staff at Madison Square Church, Grand Rapids, and later at Rosewood Church in Bellflower, Calif., she completed seminary training and is now a copastor at Rosewood Church. Bonny is married to Jahangir Behnia and has two children and one grandchild.

As father and daughter, Al and Bonny have a shared passion for multicultural ministry. Their initials (AM and BMB) indicate which meditations they have written for the month of January.

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