A week or so ago I did a QT post on the Prodigal Son. I had mentioned I would do another post on the Older Brother, so here is that synopsis.
‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ Luke 15:29-30 [ESV]
There has always been a lot of focus on the younger brother who returned to his father’s house after years of worldly partying and waste leading to homelessness and poverty. However, the story of the Older Brother is just as important for us to pay attention to.
When the younger son came home the older brother was in the fields working. When older brother came in from work and neared the house, he could hear the partying, music, and joyous celebration. In this case the party was not the focus because it is clear from the story that this was something that was out of the ordinary.
When the older brother heard that it was celebration for his returned brother, he became angry and resentful…even to the point of not participating in the festivities. His father pleaded with him to come and rejoice at the return of his lost but now found, brother. His response to his father (as stated in the verses above) was one of entitlement and expectation to be rewarded in the same way for his years of dedicated service and labor. His assertion was – why do you reward a son that has hurt you so badly and squandered what he had been given. For all the service and dedication, the older brother had endured, he was not recognized with even a goat killed so he could feast with his friends. [Interesting to me that the older brother was more concerned about celebrating with his friends rather than his own father.
Additionally, the older brother took aim at the past behavior of the younger brother bringing up his actions and mistreatment of his father.
The father then reminds the son of everything he had available to him all those years the younger son was gone…equal ownership of everything the father had and a constant closeness and covering he enjoyed with him.
The father then says that they HAD to celebrate the return because the younger son was once lost, but now is found…dead and now alive.
Dedication to service of the Lord does not set a person above or higher than the worst sinner who turns to God in their brokenness over their sinfulness.
Pride, selfishness, and entitlement lead to bitterness and resentment when a confessed Christian feels envy over the Lord’s obvious lavishing of His grace and mercy on a repentant sinner who is perceived to have not earned the Lord’s favor. Truth of the matter is that we are all worthy of death and eternal punishment for our sinful hearts regardless of our self-righteousness.
God delights and yearns for the joy of all of His children in the redemption of the most lost.
Those who are raised in a Christian home and have been sheltered from the worldly traps of a life of debauchery because of the protection of their parents should be thankful for what God has been gracious enough to save them from experiencing.
Celebrating the return of life lost is a testimony to the Love of Christ Who gave Himself as a sacrifice when while we were yet sinners.
…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 [ESV]