25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’ 28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ 31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
Not only was the pouting brother performance driven and possessions blind but he was also
While we are quick to see the sin of the prodigal son do we even notice the sin of the pouting son? His sin of pride was probably the more poisonous, yet for many of us it seems to be the more acceptable. Isn’t it interesting how we seem to classify sin into those that are bad and those that are benign? When in truth there are no respectable sins, they all ruin. Yet this older brother somehow failed to see his own faults, or at least was able to dodge or dismiss them. How did he do that, he had an inflated sense of goodness. He did what many people do today; he exaggerated his own goodness while exaggerating his brother’s wickedness. Five times he used the first personal pronoun: “All these years I’VE slaved for you; I never disobeyed you. You never gave ME a goat so I could celebrate with MY friends!” Second he then compared himself to his brother, “this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes.” Now we are not told in the previous verses that the younger brother visited any prostitutes, that’s just what the older brother said about him. Self-righteousness always needs a bigger sinner in order to look like a saint. Pride will always promote self while painting a poorer picture of others. Not there is no way that he had been totally obedient to his father for all those years as he claimed. When it comes to steel the I-beam is the strongest beam, but when it comes to self-it’s the strongest temptation. We get so full of I that there is no room for anything else. This brother was so wrapped up in his own sense of righteousness that he failed to see the repentance and restoration of his brother. He was blinded to anything but his own feelings. How could he fail to miss the forgiveness of the father? Well you can block the light of the sun with a tiny penny if you hold it close enough to your eye. Some of us are so short sighted that all we can see is self. Have you gotten caught up in the comparison game, judging your sin against the backdrop of other sinners instead of the sacrifice of the cross? It’s easy to look good, just hide your sin and show case the sin of others, but we are not called to look good we are called to love and live for God. Comparison kills, it breeds a false sense of righteousness. We become blind to our own sin because it seems somehow smaller in the shadow of others far more superior sins. Instead of looking up and seeing our need for forgiveness we look down at the faults of others. Pride always produces Pharisees. You may not have wasted your life on wild living, but the sins of jealousy, pride, anger, and resentment are just as wicked. We are quick to point out the sin in others but do we see it in ourselves? Not only was he prideful but he was:
- Relationally Removed
In verse 30 He described his brother as “this son of yours.” He may have been successful in life but not in love. Rules ruin relationship. The younger son may have been physically separated from the Father but the older one was emotionally removed. He may never have left home physically, but his heart was far from the Father. The older brother reminds us that you don’t have to run miles away from home to be distant from your dad. His disease was one of distance, not physically but emotionally. How many today are far from the Father, oh they sit in the pews but they are not singing His praise. What is sad is that while he lived on the father’s farm he failed to learn the father’s heart, and the father had to remind him, “Son, you are always with me.” Are you a prodigal son or a pouting one? God’s message to the pouting Pharisee in the church pew is clear: “I treasure our relationship more than your work.” When the father told him in verse 31 “you have always stayed by me” he was reminding the son that it was not his work that he cherished, it was him. God doesn’t want your service as much as He wants you. Remember the story of Mary and Martha? Martha was slaving over the stove; Mary was sitting at the feet of the Savior. When Martha became angry with her sister Jesus said, Mary has chosen the one thing that will never be taken from her, time with Me. Our relationship is the real riches; it’s the jewel and the joy not the job. Some Christians work so hard they have substituted work for worship. Some of us are finding our identity in what we do instead of in who we do it for. Here the Father is reminding the son that it wasn’t the work it was simply knowing that he was here at home with the father that gave him a sense of enjoyment. Second he reminds His resentful son, you have access to all of my resources, “All that I have is yours.” As believers you are not just an heir, all of His resources are available to you right now. In essence He was saying, “If you wanted a goat I would have been glad to give you one, but you never asked.” Sometimes older Christians look around and are jealous at the blessing God bestows on others and not them. But is it possible that “You have not because you ask not.” James 4:2. Sadly, so many Christians are left wanting because they are too busy working, they think they have to earn His blessings, when it’s all part of God’s grace. Lastly he says to the pouting Pharisees it’s my party, so come and celebrate with me. What is the Father really saying in verse 32 when He says, “We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’” He is saying son, you and I HAVE to celebrate, it’s not your younger brother’s party, it’s MY party. We make the party about the prodigal when it’s really about the Father. He is the one who is celebrating because His son was dead and now is alive. The Father was calling the older son to join Him in celebrating, not for his brother’s sake, but for His. The party was not for the Prodigal son it was for the loving father. That’s the point of all of the three parables in Luke 15, it’s a celebration over lost things being found. Through these three stories we see the Trinity at work. The Shepherd found the lamb, which reminds us of the work of Jesus the Son. The woman found the coin, representing the searching work of the Spirit. The dad forgave his wayward son, reminding us of the forgiving work of the Father. So here is the question, are you rejoicing or are you relationally removed? Are you going to get caught up in His worship or your work? Don’t let pride cause you to miss the party.