February 25, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Let’s continue analyzing the elder son’s attitude toward both his brother and his father – from Luke 15:28 through 30:
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.”
We have already seen the older brother was angry because his father had received his younger son home from “…a far country…[where] he wasted his possessions with prodigal living.” (Luke 15:13). Any way you cut it, receiving him back into the family would be expensive, and number one son would lose some inheritance! So he “…would not go in…” to the homecoming celebration! (Luke 15:28). When “…his father came out and pleaded with him…” (Luke 15:28), he first held up his own goodness compared to his brothers badness. He was righteous compared to his younger brother, but it was a self-righteousness – and he too needed to repent as his brother had done!
Now in Luke 15:30, he reveals his insolent attitude toward his father: “But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you have killed the fatted calf for him.”
• “But as soon as this son of yours came….” Notice how he worded it. He would not refer to the younger son as his brother. “…this son of yours…” was how he put it. In saying this, he derogatorily implied that the poor choices the young son displayed were gleaned from his father! After all, the old man was making a very poor choice in receiving back his younger son after all he had done! The elder brother was not about to extend grace to him as his father had. All he was concerned about was what Jesus called mammon in Matthew 6:24 – money, and the things money can buy! He despised his brother for being so wayward, and he despised his father for his soft heart – and, apparently, his soft head! And the first-born was also angry at the old man for not recognizing and rewarding his obvious goodness and loyalty!
• “…who has devoured your livelihood with harlots….” No mention had been made by anyone of paying prostitutes for their services. But in his self-righteous thinking, this would obviously be what the younger son would have done! After all, isn’t that what anyone would do with no morals and a lot of money? What he probably would not allow his own mind to think was, “That’s what I would do if given the opportunity! Of course, not around here would I do it. I have my good reputation to uphold. But if I was in a far country….”
Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Yes, even the heart of the good and moral person is desperately wicked if not made new by being born again. And who can know such a heart? The next verse in Jeremiah says this: “I, the LORD search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his way, and according to the fruit of his doings.” As it also is written in Hebrews 4:13: “…there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” God knows you inside out! So you might as well come to Him, confess the thoughts, words and deeds of your wicked heart, and receive His own goodness through the Lord Jesus Christ.
• “…you have killed the fatted calf for him.” This, more than anything else the elder brother says, shows his mercenary heart! He does not care for the joy this occasion of the Prodigal Son’s homecoming gives to his father. Never mind that it is the greatest day of the old man’s life! All he sees is his own inheritance decreased! After all, killing the fatted calf meant a really big celebration – and probably the whole town was invited! He – brother number one – was the son who deserved the fatted calf! And he didn’t even get a young goat to have a party with his friends!
When you look closely at the heart – the thinking – of this elder brother, he is very much like the Pharisee Jesus spoke of in Luke 18:10 through 14:
Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax
collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank
You, that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even
as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.”
And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes
to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” I
tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for
everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will
So which brother are you? – the younger brother who came home to his father, or the elder brother who stayed home but was yet estranged?