February 20, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
In this Three-Act Play, Act One was all about the younger brother of the family. He is often called the Prodigal Son. We saw him brazenly ask his father for his share of the father’s wealth – his inheritance – before the his dad even died! He didn’t care for his father, just the property, the good things of his father! Once he got his share, off he went and blew all the money on loose living in a far country. Broke and in the midst of a famine, he hired out to feed pigs, but there was no food for him! In Luke 15:17, it says, “…he came to himself…,” and decided to go home to his family. But he didn’t feel he deserved sonship, so he would offer himself to his father as a hired hand – hoping to pay his father back and earn his way back into the position of a son.
When his father ran to meet him, the boy started to tell him his pre-thought-out speech recorded in Luke 15:18 and 19: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” But his dad wouldn’t let him finish. He instead immediately bestowed full sonship back upon his boy with a robe, a ring, sandals and a great celebration! (Luke 15:22 and 23). His son was back home and restored to him! (Luke 15:24). It was the greatest day in the old man’s life!
In Act Two we meet the elder brother.
• Luke 15:25 through 27 – “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ ”
The firstborn son “…was in the field…” while his younger sibling was off in “…a far country… wast[ing] his possessions with prodigal living….” The first son had stayed home and worked the farm. He was the good son! As a matter of fact, by his own lips he testifies of good living in Luke 15:29: “Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time….” He boldly said this to his father, and the old man didn’t challenge him on that statement, so it must have been true!
But not all is well with the situation!
• Luke 15:28 – “But he was angry and would not go in [to take part in the celebration].” Why was he angry? I had said in Act One, Scenes II, the father “…divided up all his wealth between his two sons – one third to the younger and two thirds to the elder, according to God’s direction in Deuteronomy 21:17.” The one third given to the younger brother was now gone, so everything that was left of the father’s possessions would then have been his inheritance – if his brother had not come home! Now that brother number two was home, there would be two possibilities, and both would effect the first son’s inheritance:
▸ One – if brother number two was received back fully into the family as a son, he might be rewritten into the will to get one third of the father’s remaining wealth. If that was the case, the younger would inherit one third of the remaining two thirds, effectually getting a total of 5/9 (or .5555) of the father’s estate That would leave the elder brother 4/9 (or .4444) of the estate. And he was supposed to get twice what his younger brother got – not less!
▸ Two – even if he was not reinstated in the will, the celebration that the father was hosting for his wayward-son-come-home was a big deal! And costly! And then there would be the expense for the son’s clothes – the rags smelling of pigs would have to go! There would be adjustments in the household, other living expenses, etc. – all using up the father’s wealth!
Either way, it would prove to be expensive! And it says the elder son was angry – angry that his brother had blown so much money, angry that he had to gall to come back at all, angry that his father had so readily received him back, angry that it would prove costly – TO HIM! You see, it was stated earlier that the younger son didn’t care for the father, just the things of the father! (Act One, Scene I). But now we find out his older brother also loved not the father but the father’s wealth, which he thought rightfully belonged to him!
The younger brother was the bad actor, the flagrant sinner! The elder brother was the good one, but he was self-righteous! BOTH were LOST! BOTH needed to repent! But only the younger brother had repented and come home. His elder brother had stayed home but was still estranged!
In Scene Two of Act II on Monday, we will examine more closely the elder brother’s self-righteous and disrespectful attitude.