22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. 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!’”
After seeing the characteristics of a pouting son, an angry spirit of grumbling, an inflated sense of goodness and a faulty understanding of grace we now come to:
- Gods message to the prideful prodigal
This is the message most of us miss because we tend to see other people as Pharisees, and while we are focusing on their flaws we fail to see our own hypocritical heart. We don’t hear the heart of God because we believe that this part of the passage is for other people. The truth is that there are many Pharisees filling the pews, the question is am I one? It’s easy to think about other people being Pharisees, but what about me? We will never spot our self-righteous pride if we don’t ask and take the time to let God search us and show us our heart. Like David we need to pray the words of Psalm 139:23-24? “Search me, O God, and know my heart; See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” It’s a piercing prayer but one that purifies and protects the heart. One of the questions that we need to ask is which son am I, the prodigal son or the prideful son? Am I the rebel or the self-righteous? If you are an older brother, the Pharisee in the pew, then God has some powerful words He wants you to hear. You see in the parable, the father didn’t rush out and say to the older son, “Go to the party or you will lose your part of the inheritance.” Instead he passionately pleaded with his prideful heart. There are at least three things that God wants the Pharisee in the pew to know.
- I treasure our relationship more than your work.
In verse 31 the father told the older son, “You have always been with me.” In essence he was saying, “It not your work that I cherish, it’s you.” God treasures our time with him more than our toil for him. Being with him is what brought pleasure to the father. Just knowing that his son was with him at home is what gave him the greatest sense of enjoyment. The first message for the Pharisee in the pew is that God doesn’t want your hard work as much as He wants your heart. It’s not about your work it’s about your worship. This reminds us of the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42, where Martha was furiously slaving away while Mary was sitting at the feet of the Savior. And just like the parable of the prodigal again we see sibling rivalry. Martha became angry at Mary, it’s the older sister syndrome. Yet Jesus reveals that Mary had chosen the one thing that will never be taken from her, a relationship with Him. Unfortunately today many Christians are serving so hard they have substituted work for worship. It’s not about your intensity for the king it’s about your intimacy with the king. The second message for the prideful prodigal is:
- You have access to all of my resources.
The father went on to say, “All that I have is yours.” What he was saying to the older son was you are my heir and if you wanted a billy goat feast, I would have been glad to give you one, but you never asked. The message to Christians today is that we are co-airs with Christ. All of God’s assets and resources are available to us right now. Often older brother Christians start looking around at other believers and become jealous because it seems others are receiving more blessings than they are. They think they have to earn those blessings, forgetting that it’s all part of God’s grace. They are like the man who wanted to leave Europe and travel America to pursue a chance of fulfilling his dream. He scrimped and saved until he had enough money to purchase a ticket on a ship sailing to America. On the voyage, he looked through the windows into the dining room and saw the sumptuous meals that were being enjoyed, and then he would return to his little room and eat the crackers and cheese he had brought. The crackers soon ran out and the cheese got moldy, and the passenger grew hungrier and hungrier. A day before arriving in America, he felt as if he would faint from hunger and so swallowing his pride he approached a steward to beg for some leftover food. He was willing to wash dishes or perform any work just for a few scraps of food. The steward asked for the man’s ticket and upon examining it exclaimed, “Sir, when you purchased your ticket all the food we have been serving was included in the price.” Here was a man who had been fasting when he could have been feasting. The same is true in the Christian life, when Jesus paid the price and purchased your ticket, he has provided you with everything you needed in to live a Godly life. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.” Many of us are missing out simply because we haven’t claimed what is ours in Christ. All the power, all the peace, all the patience, all the love, all the joy and security that you need is available to you in Jesus. It’s not about your performance it’s about his provision. Yet many of us are missing out on all that the master has because we are letting pride and our pouting blind us to the blessing. The older son resented his brother because he was focused on the riches not the relationship. He treasured getting more than God. Today we all need the reminder that our greatest treasure is our relationship with the father and that we don’t have to resent and treat our siblings as rivals because all of God’s resources are ours. What about you, do you treasure your time with God or are you caught up in the toil? Do you find yourself resenting instead of rejoicing, are you bitter over the blessings of others? Then repent and come back to the richness of a relationship with God.