The prodigal son's dad and older brother
One of Jesus’ most famous parables is that of the prodigal son. The younger brother blows all of his inheritance then comes back to his dad. Before he can even confess or make his deal, his dad runs out to him and celebrates his return with a big party. The older brother is incensed that Dad would do so much for his profligate sibling. Jesus ends his story contrasting the older brother and the father.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” Luke 15
The boy is jealous. He can’t understand how his father can be so happy. His father can’t understand why his son can be so unhappy. Perhaps the older boy fears his inheritance is finite such that his brother’s return will halve again the inheritance, which his father is now spending on a big party. But he does not realize his dad’s wealth is not in his stuff, but in his relationships. The older boy is not losing stuff but gaining back a broken relationship. The next parable, in chapter 16 has the same theme. The shrewd manager defrauds his boss and gains relational wealth. Jesus concludes, “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Luke 16:9. I think Jesus is telling us that God values relationship, which makes sense since the trinitarian God is love in being.