The Prodigal Son – What About The Older Son?
Most people are familiar with the parable of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15:11-32. You know the story. The younger son asks his father for his share of the inheritance and takes off on his own. After spending all the money on wild living he finds himself penniless and works for a pig farmer for basically nothing. When he comes to his senses and realizes he would be better off working as a servant for his father he heads home. His father sees him coming, embraces him, welcomes him home and orders a goat to be cooked in his honor. They then have a big feast.
Most sermons I’ve heard has placed the emphasis on the fact that the younger son repents and comes home to a welcoming father. But what about the older son? He actually plays a big part in the story, too.
The older brother was very angry that his father had welcomed his younger brother with open arms. In his eyes, he should have been the one to get a big feast. After all, he was the one that obeyed everything his father asked of him. He was the good one. Why should his younger brother get a celebration when he went out and spent his money on lewd living? After all, hadn’t he stayed when his brother left? Wasn’t he always obedient? His anger resulted in him refusing to go to the feast for his brother.
The older son is like religious people. They do all their good works to try to earn their way into Heaven and God’s heart. They go to church, give to the poor, try to stay moral. They have no concept of grace. A religious person trusts in their works which doesn’t change the heart.
That was the older brother. He felt that he did everything right and his brother did it wrong. He wouldn’t even seek to find his younger brother after he left. He didn’t understand that he was just as much in the wrong has his younger brother. Neither one wanted the father, they just wanted what he had. Each just went about it differently.
Both sinned. The older brother replacing God with good works. The younger replacing God with self- indulgence. Both were lost. But, whereas, the younger brother realized his way was wrong and repented, the older brother refused.
The younger brother saw his need to repent. He embraced his father. He had turned around and went home. He didn’t want anything in the way of him and his father. When we repent and embrace our Heavenly Father we have come home. We now have a relationship with God. The prodigal son came home and had a feast. The Bible tells us that when we all are finally home in Heaven there will be a big feast called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
The Bible says we are our brother’s keeper. The older son should have been seeking his brother when he was gone. Jesus is our perfect elder brother. He seeks and saves those that are lost.
As you can see, there is a lesson to learn not only from the younger prodigal son, but also from the older brother. Don’t be proud, trusting in your works and obedience to get you home. Embrace the Father through repentance and you will experience the grace of God.