Luke 15:25-28

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The Elder Brother is Everywhere



"Now his older son was in the field, and . . . heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in." Luke 15:25-28



Jealousy cloaked in religion is an ugly thing. The older brother was full of self-pity and self-righteousness. Pride is death in whatever form it takes. While the younger son was physically gone, part of his heart was always at home. But the older brother was prodigal at heart, only his body was at home.

There are elder brothers everywhere. They work in church, lead bible studies, serve the poor. They are governed by a sense of entitlement; they have no patience with those who squander time and money; they believe others get what they deserve. The elder brother keeps the letter of the law, but forgets the Spirit. There was no love in the elder brother’s faith, yet the father is gentle in his reply, and addresses religious stinginess with grace.

We cannot imagine Jesus being saddened by the return of the prodigal, or angry with His Father for being generous in His compassion. Jesus not only would be totally sharing the Father’s joy at the return of the sinful son, but He would rejoice in His own sacrifice, the fruits of which made that whole conversion possible. 

We see the elder brother was not ready, in any sense, to share his inheritance. However, Jesus does exactly the opposite out of His infinite charity. Jesus shares His inheritance with us when we return to His Father. Out of this great love, Jesus chooses not to make us eternal slaves in our Father’s house, but to make us co-heirs to His kingdom.

We will never understand such love in this world. It’s only when we see the face of God that we will even begin to comprehend it. 



Father, help me each day to be more like our Elder Brother and to be different from man’s elder brother.