Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3564

Jump Start # 3564

Luke 15:28 “But he became angry, and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began entreating him.”

  That brother of the prodigal son thought he was so different than his wild and wayward brother, but he wasn’t. He thought he was hand-in-hand with the father, but he wasn’t. He thought he was better than the prodigal because he hadn’t wasted all the inheritance, but he wasn’t.

  The father goes out to the older brother, very similar as he ran out to the prodigal. But there are two major differences that take place. When the prodigal began his remorseful apology, the father interrupted him. He called for the sandals, robe and ring. He ordered the best beef to be slaughtered and cooked.

  When the older brother speaks to the father, it’s a different tone. He verbally assaults and insults the father. And, the father lets this son say his piece. He doesn’t interrupt him. Sorrow fills the prodigal’s heart. Anger fills the heart of the older brother. Both are loved by their father. Both are lost. Both need the father. One learned that lesson the hard way. One never learned that lesson.

  This powerful parable was used to answer the charge that Jesus was keeping company with sinners. He was. He came for that reason, to save the lost. The Pharisees have no mercy for the likes of prodigals. Their sins are so obvious. They are so far from God. But in this, the Pharisees cannot see that they are like the prodigal’s brother. Nor can they see that they too are so far from God. And, one thing that they would never want to hear is that they are very much like the prodigal. The two sons in Luke 15 were very much alike. Both were lost. One in the far county and one at home. One was lost in rebellion and one was lost in self-righteousness.

  It’s easy to view these two sons as being so different, but they weren’t. They were both lost, just in different ways. Rather than rejoicing that his brother was home, the older son, refused to acknowledge the relationship, the fellowship and extend any forgiveness towards the prodigal. He wanted nothing to do with him. And, in so doing, he revealed that he was so unlike his Father. And, that’s what Jesus wanted the Pharisees to see. You think you have it all together, by following the law, but they had no mercy for others. They had no concern for those who had made terrible choices in their lives. And, they had no patience for those who were not like them.

  I have preached and preached this parable. I have written dozens of Jump Starts on this parable. And, every time I hear some preach on this, as I did the other day, my eyes are opened to new aspects that I have never seen before.

  Let’s look at the father in this story, from the perspective of a father. He represents God. He is the gracious, merciful God who is quick to forgive. That’s the point of the parable. But pull back a moment and look at this from the standpoint of a dad. Two boys. Two boys who really do not like each other, at least one doesn’t. Two boys who took different paths in life. One went off and was wild. Maybe drugs. Maybe sexually immoral. Flunked out of college that you were paying for. Totaled many cars through the years. Irresponsible. No direction. Living as if there was no God.

  The other stayed nearby. Hard working. Paying his bills. Goes to church. The picture of a good son, but he has an attitude. He is quick to judge those who different. He’d rather cut people out of his life than help them. Without saying it, he feels that he is better than most people.

  Some lessons:

  First, as a dad, as a parent, your work doesn’t stop when they graduate from high school. Your role changes but you are always guiding, influencing and trying to point them to Jesus. It may feel like it was easier when they were eight-years-old and you could send them to their rooms, but now you reason with them as adults and you reason with them through Scriptures.

  The father in Luke 15 was active in both of the lives of those two sons. The father runs to the prodigal. He knows it’s not the time for a lecture, but a moment for grace. He hugs and kisses that wayward boy. He then leaves the party for the prodigal to go talk to the other son. This time he realizes it is time for patience and sound reasoning. He extends that. His work with his sons wasn’t over.

  Second, I wonder if the father felt like he had failed some how. How did one son become so worldly and the other son so judgmental. The father wasn’t like either one of those. What could he had done differently? Yet, putting this story back into the context, what more could God had done for those Pharisees? They had the law. They had the prophets. They used them to build a neat little safe religion that made them feel they were better than others. The story of Rahab. The story of David seating Saul’s grandson at his table. The story of the servant girl and Naaman. All of those ought to have touched the heart of the Pharisees but it didn’t.

  Third, I expect it was much harder trying to work with the older son than it was the prodigal. The prodigal came to his senses. He realized he messed up big time. He came home broken and sorrowful. The older brother wasn’t there yet in his heart. He didn’t see that he had done anything wrong. He didn’t see that he too, needed to repent and needed mercy. He didn’t see that he was wrong. Not at all. It would be much harder and longer working through those attitudes of the older son.

  And, through all of this, we ought to see ourselves. There are days we are with the prodigal in the pig pen. May we ever learn from those sins. There are days that we stand with the older brother, arms crossed, snug look on our faces, and a cold and closed heart to others. May God forgive us for that. There are days when we hate to admit that we are like everyone else. Then there are opportunities for us to be like the Father, gracious, merciful and helpful. May we strive to always be like that.

  Powerful, powerful, story. May God help us to be more like Him.