Let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. and they began to be merry.
In this parable, which the Lord Jesus told, the father recognized with great joy that his son had not only returned home for the material benefit there, but because he wished to be there wholeheartedly. That was the reason for a great feast. Only one person was missing from the feast: the elder brother. He was working in the fields. When he came home and heard the joyful music, he inquired after the reason for it. When he learned why, he became angry.
In contrast to his adventurous brother he had been loyal to his father all the time, carrying out his commands. But no feast had ever been arranged for him. Now, when his brother had returned after causing his father so much worry and wasting his money, there was a celebration. Wasn’t that unjust?
The elder son refused to go into the feast. When his father begged him expressly to do so, he reproached him: “You never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.” The attitude of his heart was evident: he would like to celebrate with his friends, leaving his father outside. On this point he was no different from his brother, the prodigal son.
Maybe someone thinks his or her morally inoffensive way of life should satisfy God and therefore deserves to be rewarded with a good life and afterwards to be received in heaven. Such a self-righteous attitude will never lead to true fellowship with God, neither on earth nor in heaven. There will be no-one in heaven who attained his place there by good works or his self-righteousness, but only pardoned sinners.