Jesus shares this story with the disciples against the background that God is perhaps not joyful at all, but coming with rage to punish. Instead, this cultivates an understanding that God is going to ensure that our repentance and return to him is full of joy. And he will not allow the resentment of the religious spirit to get in the way. The reception of the Prodigal Son is stunning, because there is great rejoicing at his return and a party is thrown enthusiastically. But this is clouded by the resentment of the elder brother.
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