The Prodigal's Brother

  • April 27, 2015
  • #8606

Sometimes the lack of pain and suffering in our lives can make us forget how richly blessed we are in Christ.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a lesson about the prodigal son.

Actually, I want us to look at the brother in this parable. We always hear so much about the returning son, but there are insights to be gleaned from taking a look at his older brother. Because you read the story of the prodigal son, and you get the idea that hardship never seemed to touch the life of the older brother. After the prodigal headed for "Hollywood”, the older son kept faithfully managing the father's farm and paying the bills. He kept his nose clean and never suffered the consequences of disobedience. Meanwhile, while the older brother is walking the straight and narrow and being responsible with his father’s estate, his little brother used up all his inheritance and is left hungry, sitting among the pigs. That’s when he decides to go home. So one day, when this younger brother showed up, the father goes crazy with excitement: Steaks on the barbecue. Bring out the best of wines. Put crepe paper on the tent posts. "Welcome home" banners over the doorway. Meanwhile, the older brother kind of steps back and looks on, more than a little stymied. It wasn't the cost of confetti and fatted calves that irked him; no, it was the gushing favor his father showered on his younger sibling.

But just when the older brother thought he was missing out, (get this) he hears these words of tender reassurance from his father, and they are recorded in Luke chapter 15, verse 31:

"'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.'" (Luke 15:31)

Let those words sink in, because when you read the parable, you see that the prodigal son only had a portion of the inheritance. The older son, according to Luke chapter 15, verse 31 possessed everything. He simply forgot that important fact.

This is a critical lesson for followers of Jesus whose testimonies are pretty clean and straight-forward, because Christians who do not wrestle with larger-than-life temptations still have to grasp the depth of their depravity. It’s also a critical lesson for those whose lives have not been touched or scarred by deep suffering. Those who do not regularly taste pain and hardship must live more circumspectly and carefully. Pain and hardship usually make us feel our desperate need of God; so does an awareness of sin in our lives. But without suffering and without hardship, one could become like the prodigal's older brother who, in his trouble-free circumstances, forgot how much he had. But God says in Ephesians chapter 1, verse 3, that He, our Father in heaven, has blessed every believer "in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." God has nothing more beyond Christ to give those who suffer, and to those who do not.

So today, friend, hear the Father say to you that you possess everything. Appreciate that! And don’t begrudge others who come to Christ by the skin of their teeth, sliding in under the wire at the last minute. Yes, they have an inheritance, but so do you (and it may well be richer and fuller than anything you can imagine). Hey, I’ve enjoyed sharing these insights from this parable of Jesus, and I’d love to share more. So please go to my radio page today and ask for your free copy of the parables of Jesus – I tell you, you are going to love this detailed explanation of not only the parable of the prodigal, but all the other parables. It’s there, waiting for you to pick up at joniandfriends.org. And a final thought? If your days are blessed with ease and comfort, may you not forget the rich and many spiritual blessings the Father has bestowed upon you.

 © Joni and Friends

 

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