February 23, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
In Act Two, Scene II involving the elder brother of the Prodigal Son parable, we are going to look at the attitude of the number one son in some detail by examining Luke 15:28 through 30: “But he was angry and would not go in…” to the celebration the father had thrown to receive back his wayward son.
Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and
said to his father, “Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never
transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a
young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this
son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you have
killed the fatted calf for him.”
• Luke 15:28 – “…he was angry and would not go in….” Remember we discussed in the last blog what might be the financial outcome of the younger brother’s return:
One – The younger brother might be received back to full sonship and rewritten into the will, getting one third of the father’s remaining wealth. That would mean a reduced share to the elder brother, and the younger would end up with the majority of his father’s estate.
Two – Even if he was not reinstated in the will, the costs of his homecoming celebration would be substantial! There would also be the expenses of settling the young man back into the family – clothes, living arrangements, extra food and so on.
So the elder brother was angry – angry at his brother’s profligate living and thinking he could just waltz home again, angry about the joyous reception his father had given him, angry because of the expense involved! It was all his money now when the old man died! He didn’t care about his father, just as his brother didn’t. He just wanted his father’s wealth! At least the younger one repented. He didn’t! And he wasn’t about to celebrate his brother’s return!
• Luke 15:28 – “Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.” Notice the father went to both sons! The younger one he joyously met as he was coming home. The elder was stubbornly refusing to be part of the same family with his younger brother. But the father loved them both, and wanted them both to be his sons and brothers to one another!
Doesn’t God come to meet us all? Hasn’t Jesus paid the price for the sins of us all? Doesn’t He love the whole world enough to die for us, even though some refuse to come in and be a part of the family? Yet doesn’t He plead with all of us to come in? (see Matthew 11:28; Luke 19:10; John 3:16, II Corinthians 5:20; I John 2:2; Revelation 22:17).
• Luke 15:29 – “So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time….’ ” He was the good son, and he apparently always obeyed his father. But why did he obey his father? It was not out of love, but because he desired to remain in the old man’s good graces so he would get his double share of the estate! Compared to his brother, he certainly was good! But he was basing his goodness on his obedience! His righteousness far exceeded that of his flagrant sinning brother! But it was self-righteousness!
You see, Jesus was emphasizing two types of sinners here: the obvious dissolutely living sinner and the good moral sinner. Both are sinners before God! What the Lord was saying is that both needed to repent: the one of his flagrant sins, the other of his self-goodness!
We have no goodness before God! In Isaiah 64:6 we learn “…all our righteousnesses [the very best we can do!] are like filthy rags…” before God! If we have no goodness, we have to seek His goodness, asking for forgiveness, confessing both our obvious sins and our self-righteousness. It is then that God bestows His own goodness – perfect goodness – to our account! As it says in Romans 4:24 and 25, God’s own righteousness…
…shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord
from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offences, and was raised
because of our justification.
• Luke 15:29 – “…and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.” Never mind the fatted calf – he was angry that the old man hadn’t even given him a kid, a young goat, to roast for a party with his friends. He was thinking of himself as poor, yet this son was privileged – the first-born of a wealthy father. He would someday be the estate master, calling all the shots! And, according to his father in Luke 15:31, “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.” The father’s wealth was accessible now! All his son had to do was ask!
Are not we like that with God? We too often think, “I’m not worthy. Why would God even bother with me? I won’t even ask.” But Paul plainly said in Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” He may not grant you an enormous amount of money or perfect health now, in this life. But He surely makes available in abundance “…the fruit of the Spirit…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22 and 23). If we have that, what more do we need in any situation?
We’ll continue examining the elder son’s attitude in Wednesday’s blog.