The Elder Brother and the Father!!!
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.’ “But he was angry and would not go in. 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 killed the fatted calf for him.’ “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”…… Luke 15:25-32
In our previous study, we were considering how the Prodigal Son who was the younger Son of a Man who has two Sons asked for His own portion of the properties and went to a far country living a Prodigal lifestyle. We saw how He came to be in need and returned to His Father and how He was welcomed and celebrated with Joy by His Father. Today, we shall look at the reaction of the Elder Brother when He was told that His younger Brother is back.
The Elder Brother is a picture of the Pharisees who are not willing to receive Sinners. Majority of people use to think that the Younger Son that left the Father was the Terrible Son but from this story, it seems that the Elder Brother was also an inward Backslider which is a more terrible case than the younger son who was an outward Backslider because at the end of the story, the Younger Son was inside rejoicing and celebrating but the Elder Son was outside the building. Let us therefore ask the Lord to give us revelation that we might see if we have the attitude of the Elder Brother.
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 Elder Brother is a picture of an active Christian – for we see him in the parable coming home after a day’s work in his father’s fields. Here was no lazy young man, sitting at home and enjoying his father’s wealth. Here was one who worked hard for his father, one who apparently loved his Father more than his younger brother did – for after all, he did not leave home and waste his father’s wealth, like the latter. He looks more devoted, but actually, as we shall see that He was just as selfish as his younger brother. It is the picture of a believer active in the Lord’s work and apparently full of devotion to his Lord but still centered in himself.
But he was angry and would not go in.: One would have thought He should rejoice over the return of His brother but not at all. He was angry!!! He is angry when He sees a person coming to God. In order words, He was happy when His brother was in the grip of the Devil. When a person is angry when someone comes back to God, and He is happy when the person is in the grip of the Devil, with whom is such a person in fellowship? Obviously it is Satan!!! The Pharisees were in fellowship with the Devil but they did not recognize it. So Jesus was trying to point this out to them in this parable. The Elder Brother was sour and offended. He would not go into the House to even see His brother. There is a lesson here for us: In the measure in which our Christian life and service are centered in ourselves, in that measure we shall experience spiritual death – in spite of our being born again and in spite of our fundamentalism. And all unconsciously, we shall be ministering spiritual death to others too. We may have a reputation as keen and zealous workers for the Father (as the elder son perhaps had), but we may still merit the rebuke of the Lord, “I know your reputation as a live and active (Christian), but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1). This is a tragic but dangerous possibility in Christian work. Many a Christian worker lives on the reputation he has built up for himself. Looked up to by others, he is often unconscious of the fact, that God sees him in an altogether different light. Never having been delivered from selfcenteredness himself, he is unable to deliver others – even if he preaches beautifully! And so, a warning is given for all of us in the story of the elder son. Recognizing the evil within God often allows times of pressure to come into our lives to bring up from within us our corrupt self-life, so that we begin to see ourselves as we really are. It is fairly easy for us to consider ourselves spiritual when our circumstances are easy. When we have no problems to tackle, when nobody is irritating us, when things are going smoothly and our co-workers are congenial, we can deceive ourselves concerning the real state of our hearts. But wait till we get a co-worker who irritates us, or a neighbor who annoys us all the time, and the veneer of spirituality disappears. Our self-life will then manifest itself in all its ugliness. This was what happened to the elder son. When his younger brother was honored, he got upset. No one would ever have thought that this elder son could have behaved so peevishly. He had appeared such a nice person all along. But he hadn’t faced pressure like this before. Now, his real nature was manifested. It was not the provocation at that moment that made him evil. No. The provocation merely brought up to the surface what was within all the time. If bitter water comes out of our lives and our lips, it is because it has always been there. It is not the provocation or the irritation that make us bitter or unspiritual. They only bring out of us what is already within. And so it should make us deeply thankful to God that He allows such times to come upon our lives when we see the corruption of our own natures. If it were not for such occasions, we might never realize that there is a fountain of corruption within us, and that not one good thing dwells in our flesh. This also teaches us that suppression is not victory. One person may explode in anger in a trying situation, while another, (with a little more self-control), in a similar situation, may only boil inwardly, without any steam escaping through his lips! In men’s eyes, the second person may have a reputation for meekness. But God Who sees the hearts knows that both men boiled within and considers them both equally bad. The difference in their external conduct was merely a result of different temperaments, which matter nothing to God. If suppression were victory, then I think salesmen are among the most Christ-like people that I have ever met! No matter how much their customers tax their patience, they still retain a gracious attitude towards them, for the sake of their business – even though they may be boiling within! No. Suppression is not victory. God does not want us merely to appear delivered and spiritual – but to be actually delivered. Paul said, “It is no longer I, but Christ Who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). This is the point to which God wants to bring us. Let us look at the characteristics of the self-life in two aspects. First, its attitude to God, and secondly, its attitude to its fellowmen. We see both of these illustrated in the story of the elder son. The self-centered person’s attitude to God Legalism The attitude of the self-centered life to God and to His service is characterized by a spirit of legalism. Self can try to serve God. It can be very active in such service too – but it is always legalistic service. It seeks a reward for the service it offers to God. “I have served you all these years,” the elder son tells the father, “but you never gave me a kid.” He had served his father for reward all along, but it had not been evident until now. This moment of pressure brought out the truth. That is how self serves God – not freely, joyfully and spontaneously, but hoping for a return. The return expected may even be some spiritual blessing from God. But service done with even such a motive is legalistic and unacceptable to God. The elder son considered his father hard and cruel for not having rewarded his service during all those years. He was like the man who was given one talent, who came up to his master at reckoning time and said, “I’ve kept your talent safe (without trading it for profit), because I was afraid (you would demand my profits) for you are a hard man to deal with” (Luke 19:21-LB). Self considers God to be so difficult to please, and so it strives and strives to do God’s service and still condemns itself for not having satisfied the requirements of such a “demanding” God! That is not the type of service that God expects from any of us. The Bible says, “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). In the matter of service too God delights in one who serves cheerfully, neither grudgingly nor of necessity. He would rather have no service at all, than reluctant service. When one serves for reward, it is but a short while before he is complaining to God that he is not being blessed
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. : The Elder Brother is so stubborn and unteachable. The father had to come out and beg Him. A self-centered Christian loves to be coaxed and humored and petted like a little child – even by God. God has to keep on pleading with such persons, but they do not listen easily. Ultimately, they may find themselves, like the elder son, outside the Father’s house altogether. Do you see how horrible the heart of man is!
Notice what He said to the Father. He is so taken up with His own service and obedience to the Father. This is exactly how Pharisees behave and pray. When ever you hear someone always speaking about what they are doing for the Lord and sending pictures all around, you can be sure that such person as a Spirit of the Elder Brother. He was like saying, “Father, I am not like my younger brother, I have been serving you for many years and I have never disobeyed your commands”. This is the attitude of the Pharisees who is very conscious of all the good that He has done, of all his obedience and apparent holiness that He thinks he has. Notice also that Pharisees have complaint against God that He has not been rewarded as He feels he deserves to be rewarded. When we serve God or make some sacrifice for Him with the expectation that God should reward us back in some way, our works becomes dead works because they have not been done out of Love. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments”. When we serve God and keep His commandments out of the expectation or Hope of reward or even out of the Fear of judgment, our work becomes Dead works. This is what produces Pharisees. A lot of good works but all dead works because the motivation behind those works is wrong.
But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ : And when a person has such an attitude towards God, it is reflected in His action towards the fellow Human being. When He is so conscious of how faithfully He has served God, and has a complaint that he has not been rewarded for all his works, the results is that he looks down his nose not only on others but even other brothers in the Church. Notice what He said, “”This Son of Yours”. He did not say, “My Brother”. He would not consider Him as a Brother. God receives a repented Sinner as a Son, but the Pharisee is not willing to receive that person as a Brother. This Father calls Him, “My Son” but the Pharisee does not say, “My Brother”, instead He says, “This son of yours”. This show how out of fellowship with God He is. Notice also, He said, ” The Son has devoured your livelihood with harlots”. How did He know that His younger brother has devour the Father’s wealth with harlots? This is the attitude of the Pharisee. He assumes and believes the worst about others even about his brothers in the Church. He assumes the worst. He assumes that, “He must have obviously devour your wealth With harlots”. He was not there watching what He was doing but he assumes it. When we assume the worst about others that have sinned without proper evidence, then we are Pharisees. When you accuse a Brother, you are in fellow with the Accuser of the brethren which is the Devil(Revelation 12:11). The Pharisees cannot overcome the Accuser because He is in fellowship with Him. He even accuses the Father!!! Why have you killed the Fatted calf for Him? So you see that all his obedience and all his staying in the Father’s house was worth nothing.
And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’: Look at the attitude of the Father to this stubborn self righteous Son of His. He doesn’t just throw Him out. His heart is just as compassionate to him just as it was to the younger son. God is not just interested in only Prodigal children returning to Him, He is interested also in Pharisees returning to Him too. He said to Him, ” Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours”.what a wonderful thing it is if only we can be occupied with this. This is what will save us from becoming Pharisees. Be occupied with the goodness and presence of God. Be occupied with the spiritual wealth that is ours in Christ. The continuous presence of God and to always be with God is the greatest privilege we can get. All that the Father has is ours. We can lay hold of all the spiritual blessings in the heavenly places. If we can be occupied with theses things, instead of being occupied with the sins and shortcomings of our fellow believers as these Elder Brother was, then we shall be saved from becoming a Pharisee. If we can be occupied with living in God’s presence and being with Him, and partaking of the wealth that is ours in Christ, instead of being occupied with the Failures that we see in others, then we shall be saved from Phariseesim. God does not want us to be Pharisees, He wants us to share in the joy that there is in Heaven over Sinners that repents and are converted to Him.
Notice the Father said,” Your brother was dead and is alive again,”. The father corrects Him for saying, “This son of yours”. Let us therefore learn to receive those whom the Lord has received with joy and dancing lest we find ourselves outside the kingdom of God like these Elder Son.
Dear Friend, examine yourself whether you are in fellowship with the Accuser of the brethren or with the Father. Do you have a secret complaint that God has not rewarded you for all your service to Him? Do you look at others that the Lord has Blessed with something material and asked, “Lord why not Me?” Do you keep a record of all your obedience and all the sacrifice you have made? Take out the little foxes that destroys the vine. Have a change of attitude towards the Father’s work. Don’t serve God expecting a reward. Be satisfied with the fact that, “All that the Father has is yours in Christ Jesus”. Say to the Lord, “I will love and serve You even if you give me nothing”. Honestly, the happiest Christians on Earth are those who come to the Lord expecting nothing in return. May the Lord work upon our hearts love and serve the Father with the right attitude and Spirit of Love instead of rewards. (Amen). God bless you. Have a blessed day.
#Everyday with Jesus