What we can learn from the Elder Brother’s mistake in the Prodigal Son Parable

This insight really blessed my heart- Let’s begin at Luke 15 (NKJV):

“11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.”

This young man here signifies the type of the Gentiles, unbelievers, or people living a fleshly and carnal life, what we like to call Carnal Christians.  We know that it is not an unbeliever because it says that the young man has an inheritance.  This prodigal son became hungry for food.  He thought he deserved to eat pods, or the very little that he had, but there was nothing anybody gave him, so that food or (physical, or spiritual food) was very little.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’

At this point, he probably thought his father wouldn’t forgive him because of the way he spent his living, and he was really depressed.  All he wanted was food.  This is a contrast to the story of Esau trading his birthright for food.  But yet he denied his true identity and he did not feel worthy to be a son.  How about if your child did something and said “I am no longer worthy to be your child.” It would grieve you, wouldn’t it to think that your child hurts so much that they don’t want to be called your child, that they would rather do chores for you without wanting to have a relationship with you?

20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’”

His father was a great way off, meaning far away, and his father saw him and had compassion.  Think about if you have a son that has just come back from the military  wouldn’t you go and feel this ache of compassion and rejoicing that your son had come home alive?    Even if you had an argument before you left you would still be rejoicing because now your son has come back to you.  Just like a person who is the father of a soldier would run and fall and hug and kiss his son, the father ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.  The father was just so happy to see his son to come back that he wasn’t thinking about the way he left and what he did.

22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.”

Using the military example, a returning soldier always gets a warm welcome from the parents, and this is always the cast.  He brought the beeeeeeeessssssst robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.  Basically he just poured out his abundant blessings  and filled him up with (physical food and spiritual food) upon the younger son.  It would be interesting to compare and contrast this parable with Isaac and Esau and Jacob.

25 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 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.’

I’ve heard people say in some circles (Holy Spirit entertainment, instead of reverential worship) like it’s a bad thing.  Some people are still against dancing.  We are supposed to have JOY in the kingdom of God!!!  Anyway, the elder brother had probably never heard this kind of music before and he wondered what it was.  He was wondering what’s all the commotion.  I guess his life with his father had been pretty boring based on his response.

28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 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; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

Who were supposed to not transgress the commandments?  If you go back to my previous post you’ll find one about that the Hebrews/Jews had to obey all the commandments, the entire Law.  He was pretty much jealous of the joy that the younger brother was receiving, and he said ‘this son of yours’, making it seem like he wasn’t even a brother, but almost used in derogatory sense.  He was thinking, ‘Why did you have to do that for him?  You didn’t do that for me?’  Now take a look at the father’s response.

31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 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.’”

There is so much meat in this parable.  There are two types of metaphors here, well actually three- there’s the younger brother (Gentiles), and the father (Heavenly Father), and the elder brother (Jews or Law keeping Pharisees/could also typify the people in the Church that have become religious or become mature in their faith).  I know this parable can be taken from many angles, but I want to examine a little bit more the elder brother.

1.  Elder Brother obeyed all the commands

The Jews obeyed all the commands

2.  Elder Brother was jealous of his younger brother

Some people look at the preachers of grace, and think that they have it way too easy, and that there must be some harder way and so when they see their ministries getting blessed, they begin to quickly turn people away from them, when grace preaching brings hope and life to the soul, if it is done properly.

3.  Elder Brother had no empathy:

He had a self-righteous attitude that ‘I am doing better than he does’ he doesn’t deserve something so rich’ and ‘how come my father didn’t do the same thing for me?’  He couldn’t see that his elder brother was lost and now he is found.

After Jesus ended these parables in Luke 16 it says:

14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him.15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

“16 “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.”

God wants to bring upon the pressing Holy Spirit passion into the Church.  I wish there was a way we could hear the texture and tone of Jesus voice when He was reading vs. 17.

I was reading on further in Luke as I was writing, and I feel compelled to share, that if I have caused anyone to stray away from their faith, or have to debate on things which are just basic.  It seems to at times my own faith is shaken, but I trust Jesus that He restores.  We may not understand all that there is in the Bible, but even as we become mature and learn how to treat people that are younger, or people that may be participating in all kinds of sins, to be able to restore them gently, and also to encourage them and build their faith up in Jesus and increase their faith and just love them be patient with them, and be careful of saying things that are going to put fear in people’s hearts.  There might be teachers out there that are trying their best to put the Word out there, but unless they sow good seed, and seed that glorifies Jesus and shows the nature of the Father to love and not to condemn, then the worse it will be for us and for them.  So treat one another with love.  If any of you elder brothers believe that they are correct in their dogma or doctrines, then take a second look and try to really examine your heart and see if these conditions of the elder brothers – whether Jews, or Mature Christians, Messianic Jews, anybody in that believes that they have been obedient to God, and say to yourself, “You that is without sin, cast the first stone.”  Then you will realize that Jesus was the only sinless man, and the everlasting Prince of Peace.  May you have Joy and Peace in your hearts.

For younger brothers, who have been treated badly by “elder brothers”  forgive them, and just lean on Jesus more and more and trust Jesus more and more.  Learn from people like Paul and how He dealt with Judaizers, and learn wisdom from the Bible because it is packed with Truth.  Learn to properly interpret the Bible and study Hebrew and Greek, reread the Parables over and over again to see what kind of Truth they have.  Don’t get stuck in one way of looking at things, but be teachable.  Keep the passion alive that you first had and remember not to lose your first love.

After I have written these things, I want to say that there is a warning for apostates, and people that stray away from the faith and teach things about spirituality that are not based on the Bible, and are basically emphasize a “pseudo-spirit” and “enlightment” that comes from eastern mysticism, that we need to be aware of because they can disguise themselves as Christians, but they really don’t have any Truth in them.  Test the spirits to see if they are from God.