Ralph Waldo Emerson said the Prodigal Son is greatest story told in the Bible or out of it. The most fascinating character in the story is the Elder Son whose anger, hurt, and fury at his brother and father boils over.
I find it helpful and interesting to imagine the story told in the present day. Perhaps you will find the contemporary interpretation thought-provoking and helpful as well.
A Contemporary Interpretation
Now the elder son had been working in the office of the family’s business all day. On his way home, he drove by the country club, and he recognized many cars in the parking lot. He saw familiar people going into the club where there was music and dancing. He stopped in the parking lot and asked one of the workers what was going on. He replied, “Your brother has come, and your father is hosting a big party because he has gotten him back safe and sound.”
Then the elder son became angry and refused to go inside. His father came outside and began to plead with him. But the elder son replied to his father: “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you in the family business, and I have never once disobeyed you. Yet, you have never given me even a little party; you never had a party for my little league team when we won the championship; you never celebrated when I made the honor roll. But when this son of yours came back, who has burned through your money – taken from our company – with prostitutes, you host the biggest celebration this club has ever seen!”
Then the father said to him, “Son, my dear child, you are always with me, and all that I have – all that I have built – is yours. But we had to celebrate because this brother of yours was as much as dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.”