Sermon: A Tale of Two Brothers
Scripture: Luke 15:11-32
ICE BREAKER: What position were you in your sibling group (older, younger, middle, single-child), and how did this affect you?
One of the most famous Parables in scripture is the Prodigal Son. To understand it fully, we must understand its context. We find who Jesus was addressing at the beginning of Luke 15:
1 All the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen to him.
2 And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
Jesus told this story, aimed directly at the hypocritical religious leaders, to help us understand the heart of God the Father. This context also shows us that we have a lot to learn from both the prodigal son AND the older brother who stayed home.
The Prodigal went to his Father and demanded his inheritance early. He did not want to wait until his old man passed away to get what was coming. The Father relented and divided what he had among both of his boys. The younger son cashed out his inheritance and went to a far-off country where he lived in sin and debauchery! The older brother stayed and continued to work the family land.
Which brother do you relate more to - the wild Prodigal or the steadfast older brother?
It did not take long for the younger brother to run through all his money. He was the life of the party, but the party did not last very long. Then, a severe famine struck the land where he was living. Soon, he found himself at the lowest of lows. Once he hit rock bottom, he came to his senses and determined to return home and beg for a place among his Father's servants.
Have you ever hit a "rock bottom" point in your life?
Have you ever felt so far from God that you assumed he would not take you back?
As the prodigal neared his property, he was shocked to see his Father RUNNING towards him! The Father threw his arms around his long, lost son and poured affection upon him. The younger brother began his rehearsed speech to ask for a spot on the servant's roster - but the Father didn't even hear him! Instead, he had his men prepare a feast, and he threw a party for his son, who was dead but was now alive!
Everyone was joyous... except the older brother! He had stayed home, chosen the sensible lifestyle, and "slaved away" on the family land this whole time. He was furious that his little brother was allowed on the property - much less that he had a party thrown in his honor.
While the lessons from the prodigal are more obvious - the older brother has an important lesson for us as well! Neither of the brothers understood the heart of the Father! Jesus told this parable to the religious elite, and the older brother represented them. The younger thought he could find something more valuable in the things of this world. The older brother foolishly tried to "EARN" a love that he already had from the beginning. The younger was under the sway of the culture, while the older was under the illusion of control.
This parable is to both the Sinners and the Spiritual elite. The Younger brother represents those sinners who have pursued the world and ended up at their rock bottom. The older brother represents the Pharisees and Scribes who believed they could earn their salvation through dedication and hard work.
The younger brother was arrogant in thinking he didn't need his Father in his life. The older brother was arrogant in thinking he could work his way into a relationship he already had.
The truth is, the parable isn't ACTUALLY about either brother - it is pointing with precision to the love of the Father.
YOU CAN NOT WORK YOUR WAY INTO HIS GRACE
& YOU CAN NOT SIN YOUR WAY BEYOND HIS GRACE
HERE IS THIS WEEK'S APPLICATION QUESTION:
Which brother do you relate to, and how do you need to shift your view of your Heavenly Father's love for you?
If you are more of a prodigal, it will require faith to believe complete forgiveness is waiting for you!
If you are the older brother, it is time to stop trying to earn God's free gift of grace.
Pray that you can see your Heavenly Father accurately. If you are a prodigal, ask for strength in trusting that God is waiting to run to you and give you all you need. If you are the older brother, ask God to soften your heart to those around you.