Posts Tagged ‘Elder Brother’


Time to celebrateMost people have a deadly disease and do not realize it. This is the disease that prevents them from seeing God for who He is. This is the disease that prevents them from seeing Jesus as their True Elder Brother. Before we reveal this disease lets read again from the Parable of the Prodigal Son:

The father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing… he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him….and he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ “Luke 15:22-32(ESV)

The Father told his oldest son, “We must celebrate!” It hardly seemed the appropriate thing to do considering the waste and debauchery of the younger brother’s life. But the Father said “We MUST!” In order to understand the Father’s declaration and see the Disease that keeps us from celebrating, we must see some things from this parable.

Man lives in exile

1. Man is in Exile

The truth is that we are all in exile on this earth. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, man has not been welcome on this planet. We are seperated from our Creator Godby a Wall of Fire. We were expelled from the home God designed for us. We were expelled because of our willful rebellion, our sin against the  Father.

2. There is NO WAY to Go Home.

There is no way to get back. Our pitiful estate is described in Romans 3:10-18.

As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Our Creator God longs for RELATIONSHIP. He longs for those whom He created to come back to Him, to come home.

Jesus crucified for sinnersSo here is what our Father did: Romans 3:23-28 (NLT):

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

God Rejoices in the NowI want you to notice something about our Father. Our Father is always Looking Ahead so He Can Work in the NOW!

It’s like the movie “Back to the Future” where Marty McFly had to go back in time to change the future. Well God is all about the NOW because He is LOOKING to the FUTURE. He is looking to get us HOME! And so He wants us to enjoy the NOW!

GOD COVERS OUR PAST SO WE CAN LOOK FORWARD TO THE FUTURE AND REJOICE IN THE NOW!

Coming Home3. The Parable of the Two Lost Sons is about Coming Home.

This is why the Father sent our True Elder Brother to this world, and at the cost of His blood and body, He paid the price to redeem us from our slavery to this hostile world and it’s devilish owner. He satisfied the Holy and Righteous demands of the Father, and so the Father opened His arms to us, and He is calling us Home.

Home is the place we long for at the end of a hard day.. Home is a refuge from the troubles of the world. Home is a place we can relax, walk around in ratty old sweats, scratch and not worry about saying excuse me when we belch or whatever. Young men who go forth to serve for our country can’t wait to come home. Home is for fellowship, relationship. Home is always in the present, but it also shadows the future.

God calls us home in the present time, God reaches for us in the present time, God places us at the Banquet Table in the presetn time, but His heart is on our future together!

The Younger Son came to his senses, and the Father wants each of us to find our “God-Sense”!

God-Sense will lead us home4. COMING TO OUR GOD-SENSE WILL LEAD US HOME

The younger son thought he was doing the right thing when he got his inheritance and went to a far country. We don’t know how long the partying lasted, but the father was far from the younger brothers thoughts. He was doing things his own way, having fun and living large. Only when he was at the end of his rope, stinking with the fetor of pig slop did he come to his senses. His “Father sense” kicked in.

Preachers know that it is best to reach people’s hearts when they are young, when they are more open to God. It is best to build Biblical truth into a young heart. We know all too well that this world has a much stronger attraction to exploring hearts. If there is no solid Biblical truth guiding a young heart, often our young people go off to college and for years never again go to church, study the Bible. They are off doing their own thing. Suddenly, something happens. Perhaps their marriage takes a turn for the worse, a child becomes seriously ill or has problems at school, a close friend becomes stricken with a deadly illness, tragedy strikes in the form of an auto accident, a job loss, a natural disaster.

Something happens to cause the wandering son to come to his senses, to look up and see the Father! We start to head home, we seek to know this Heavenly Father, we seek for meaning in our life.

I was in a small Christmas Play in College at Seminole Baptist Church. It was about a college student coming home. He had just been to his first semester of Bible College, and had come home all pumped up and wanting to witness to his family. Almost immediately his brother and sister started in on him, criticising him, mocking him. Then his mom joined in, followed by the condemnation of his father when he got home from work. At one point they were surrounding this young believer and while not stoning him, were hurling verbal insults and abuses at him. He is on his knees on the floor, hands over his ears, and as they continue to make fun of his belief in Jesus, suddenly a bright light shines, and the Lord Jesus Christ appears, calling his children to join Him in the air. The young man starts singing as he is raptured to be with His Lord:

I’ll tell the world, that I’m a christian,
I’m not ashamed, His name to bear;
I’ll tell the world, that I’m a christian,
I’ll take Him with me everywhere.

I’ll tell the world, how Jesus saved me,
and how He gave me a life brand new;
And I know that if you trust Him,
that all He gave me, He’ll give to you.

I’ll tell the world, that He’s my Saviour,
No other one, could love me so;
My life, my all is His forever,
and where He leads me I will go.

For when He comes, and life is over,
For those who love Him there’s more to be;
Eyes have never seen the wonders,
That He’s preparing, for you and me

Oh, tell the world, that you’re a christian,
Be not ashamed, His name to bear;
Oh tell the world, that you’re a christian,
And take Him with you everywhere.

The homecoming that I was looking forward to, to telling my family about Jeus, turned into a nightmare,  with my family continuing to reject me. But then Jesus appeared, and the most wonderful homecoming happened. It will be so wonderful to go home! We can not even begin to imagine the celebration that will take place! God wants us to have a taste of that celebration here on earth. He wants us to feast and celebrate here!

The Elder Brother, the Younger Brother, any Brother, any Sister needs to discover their God-Sense, and see what the Father has done for us. We need to come home. We need to come to the Father. We need to come and enjoy the feast He has prepared for us.

What is your God-Sense today? You may think you are safe and comfortable, just like the Elder Brother. But he had to see that he had no God-Sense, no Father-Sense. He was exiled from the Father’s love. He did not go into the Feast.

With God, our Home Coming is not a future event, it is not a one time event, it is meant to be an on-going event! It is meant to be a LIFE DEFINING EVENT!

This morning we all need to go home. We all need to go in and enjoy the FEAST!

Stiff-Neck5. A Deadly Disease Keeps Us from the Feast: It is called Stiff-Neckitis

The Elder Brother suffered from a deadly disease. It is a disease that some of you may suffer from. It has been called many things through the years, but the Bible simply calls it sklērotrachēlos (sklay-rot-rakh’-ay-los).

In Acts 7:51 it is translated “stiff-necked.” It is a disease that results in a slow death, sometimes 40 years after diagnosis. (The Jews wandered in the wilderness for 40 years until they had died)

You may be thinking of the stiff-neck that you wake up with sometimes. Or perhaps you have had a child with a sore stiff neck and they suspected meningitis. But the stiff-neck mentioned in theBible is much more deadly. And the Elder Brother had the disease.

stephen stoningStephen was stoned because he called the Jews “stiff-necked”. He told them they do always resist the Holy Spirit. Much of what he was preaching to them about was about their fathers in the wilderness. They too were called stiff-necked.

This disease prevents people from feasting, from going home, from escaping exile. People with stiff-neck disease are people who resist God.

Stiff Necks Refuse the Feast

Perhaps you remember the Terminator movies, when Arnold returned as a good robot. These other bad robots were after the kid or the mom. But what I remember most was that it was almost impossible to stop the robot. One was like mercury, just kept bending and changing shape.  No matter how many times Arnold shot him or beat him or crashed him, he just kept on coming.

Stiff-Necks refuse to celebrate

That is a picture of a stiff-neck to God. No matter how Good God is, no matter what God sends their way to wake them up to Him, they refuse to come to God! Be it kindness or trials, they refuse to honor God!

The Jews in the wilderness were so stiff-necked, that no matter what God did for them-manna, quail, water from a rock, victory over Amalekites, victory over giants Kings, or no matter what he did to them, snakes, the eart swallowing them up, killing those who worshipped the golden calf, they refused to humble themselves to Him as God. They kept complaining, kept longing for Egypt. They rebelled and resisted Moses.

Are you stiff-necked this morning? Not the kind that comes from sleeping wrong. The kind that the Elder Brother had. He was stiff-necked in his heart.

He had a problem, in that he lived in the flesh. He only believed what he saw. He saw a brother who was selfish, sinful, wasteful, doing all sorts of evil and dirty things. He saw his brother as one of those filthy stinky pigs.

Even though he came home, and got all cleaned up in the robe and new shoes, he was still filthy and dirty to the brother. That is all he could see.

The Father could see something else. He could see the son’s heart. He could see repentance, he could see brokenness. But more than that, he could see the future.

God is not a God of the Past. O sure, He wants us to know what He has done, but more than anything, He wants us to know who HE IS and WHAT HE IS GOING TO DO!

God is the Great I Am6. God is the GREAT I AM. God is God of the Living.

Too many of us define ourselves by the past. How we goofed up, how we sinned, how we succeeded. We define our marriage by the past. Too often we let the past influence the present, and then it works to rob us of the future.

The Past was Nailed to the Cross.

God forgives the past, and looks to the future. He is all about tomorrow. He is all about NOW!

The Feast means God is God of the Now7. God Uses Feasting to Teach Us That He is ALL ABOUT THE NOW!

God wants us to remember that He is God of the Living, and God of the Future.

How does He do that? He does it through FEASTING!

The Jews have several important Observances that involve feasting and celebrating. They are prescribed by God’s Word. We Christians have only one Important Feast prescribed by the Scriptures!

Lords Supper Feast of Celebration8. WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN’S FEAST? – The Lord’s Supper!

Most of us think that communion should be a somber time. We should be reflective, confessing our sins, wondering if we are partaking worthily. That is a complete misunderstanding of what communion is all about. NONE of us is WORTHY! We are there ONLY because of what our True Elder Brother has done, because the Father sent Him! We are to rejoice because of Him. We are to rejoice because of the Father! Communion should be a time of Praise! Psa;m 97 and 98 should be read at all Communion services. We should shout and sing and clap our hands because NONE of us is worthy to be at the feast! But the Father invites us in! The Father loves us. The Father forgives us becasue of what our True Elder Brother has done! Don’t fret about the past! Don’t fret about the future! Live in the NOW with the Father! Let Him take charge of the future!

9. What Keeps us from Enjoying the Feast?

Our Stiff-Necks! We need to Remove the things which make our neck stiff:

  • Sin
  • Selfishness
  • Pride
  • Greed
  • Lack of Forgiveness
  • Lack of Love
  • Self-Will

The worst cause of stiff-neckitis is a CRITICAL SPIRIT!

That is really why the elder brother refused to go in! He was so critical of his father and the younger brother. A Critical Spirit is looking at the past. A person is usually critical because of their own past. God offers to wipe the past away through the blood of His Son. He offers us acceptance, love, beauty, forgiveness. Our Father is never critical, His arms are always open to his returning children!

10. WE MUST CELEBRATE!

The Feast is our Testimony of the Father’s GRACE.  It is Proof of His Love and Greatness. It is Proof of His Wealth.

Testimony is in the CongregationCOMMUNION IS the way we bear TESTIMONY to our FATHER AND IS ALWAYS SHOWN BY THE FAMILY, (the CONGREGATION)

  • Psalms 119:59 (ESV) When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies;
  • Psalms 119:79 (ESV) Let those who fear you turn to me, that they may know your testimonies.
  • Psalms 119:111 (ESV) Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.
  • Psalms 119:146 (ESV) I call to you; save me, that I may observe your testimonies.
  • Psalms 119:88 (ESV) In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

Failure to celebrate denies the TESTIMONY OF THE FATHER

Testimony and Congregation are almost identical in the Hebrew language:

עֵדָה‎, ‘ēdâ—congregation “company assembled together” for a certain purpose, similar to the Greek words synagōgē and ekklēsia, from which our words “synagogue” and “church” are derived. In ordinary usage, ‘ēdâ refers to a “group of people.” It occurs 149 times in the Old Testament, most frequently in the Book of Numbers.—‏

עֵדָה – ‘ēdāh: A feminine noun meaning a testimony, a witness. Derived from a word that denotes permanence, this term refers to the act of testifying to a fact or an event. For example, by accepting Abraham’s gift of ewe lambs, Abimelech acknowledged the truth of Abraham’s statement about the ownership of the well at Beersheba (Gen. 21:30). Likewise, a heap of stones became a witness to the boundary agreement reached between Jacob and Laban (Gen. 31:52). Within the context of a covenant renewal ceremony, Joshua placed a single large stone to function as a witness of the covenant established between the Lord and His people (Josh. 24:27).

Time to CelebrateAre you ready to Celebrate?

Let’s Give our necks and our hearts a once over. Close your eyes, relax your neck, now roll your head to the left three times.. Now roll it to the right three times. Ah, the stiffness is gone. Now we can go in and CELEBRATE!


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The Elder Brother has accepted the Father’s invitation and gone in to the party celebrating his younger brother’s return. This is my imagining:

IMMEDIATELY I notice this is a REALLY FESTIVE partyYou can not imagine the feast that our Father has prepared. Really HUGE! My younger brother is the center of attention. He looks totally transformed by what my Father has done for him. I’ve got to rush over to him and let him know that I love him. But just as Esau rushed to fearful Jacob, my brother notices me and runs to me! All those years I looked down at him, and now he is running to me! He used to run away from my disdainful stares.

What a reunionIt was like we were small boys again! We both were sobbing, hugging, kissing. The merriment stopped as all eyes were upon us. Everyone knew that we did not get along. They probably were in awe of the scene. We stood there, embracing and the tears began flowing freely from our eyes. Then our Father joined in, and it seemed the dam broke. Such a reunion, all because of our Father’s love.

I wonder how long we will feast and hug and cry and kiss when we get to heaven. If this is any indication, what a truly amazing place it must be. I can’t believe I almost let my foolish pride keep me from accepting my Father’s invitationI take a moment to look at the faces around us. Many of these people I would never have given the time of day.I certainly would not have invited them into MY HOUSE! But now I am hugging them, shaking their hands, REJOICING with them! Some of these folk are barely presentable, clothed in rags, dirty, stinky, but it doesn’t matter, we are CELEBRATING because of our Father’s Love and Provisions! 

This Elder Brother thinks we will be amazed at the people we see at the Father’s Feast in Heaven. We will probably be even more amazed at who we do not see. One thing has been brought home to my heart: Jesus is a friend of sinnersOnly sinners can realize how much He did for them. Elder Brother Types can let their pride and self-righteousness blind their heart to the Love of Jesus and prevent them from the “Sinners Relationship” with the Father!

Jesus Friend of SinnersYes, Jesus and the Father are FRIENDS of SINNERS! The Self Righteous, those who are working for heaven are not welcome. As an Elder Brother Type I have often let my pride and self righteousness get in the way of this amazing relationship with God. Sinners who hold on to their sins miss out too. That is why Elder Brother Types must see Jesus Christ as a Friend of Sinners and start letting it impact the way we relate to people.

Watchman Nee wrote that when he saw Jesus as a Friend of Sinnershe started to see some unusual and even difficult people come to Jesus.

Pray with NeeOnce a young woman came up to him and started hitting him, saying she did not want to be “saved” by this Jesus. She was young and wanted to have a good time, and had no desire to leave her sinful ways. After she had exhausted her rantings, he said “Let’s pray”. “What on earth could I possibly pray?” she replied. Watchman Nee said: “I can’t be responsible for your prayer, but I will pray first, and then you tell the Lord Jesus all that you have been saying to me.”

“Oh, I couldn’t do that!” she exclaimed. 

“Yes, you can. Don’t you know Jesus is the Friend of Sinners?”

She was touched and indeed did pray – a very non-typical prayer – but from that hour the Lord began to work in her heart.

Within a few days Nee says she was gloriously saved.

I’m with my younger brother now, and I’m on the look out for some more Friends for Jesus. Anyone want to Pray? Your language will not offend him. Your clothes will not offend him. Your behavior will not offend Him. He wants you to know that He is Your Friend. He wants to talk with you. He wants to feast with you!


father pleads with olders sonThe Father pleaded (’parakaleo’) with the Elder Brother to come in and enjoy the feast with his brother. It was a call to fellowship, it was a call to relationship, it was a call to repentance from his selfish and unloving ways. Much the same way our paraclete (Holy Spirit) comes alongside us each and every day. We can have the same reaction that the Elder Brother had. His reaction is described in Zechariah 7:11: “But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear.

cover ears upHard to believe isn’t it, that this Elder Brother refused the Father’s pleadings. Not really. Most people are good at stopping their ears at times. Sometimes we’ll even murmur to cover any sound. This is why Jesus mentioned several times “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

hands-over-earsPaul experienced people covering their ears, but one instance was notable and recorded in Acts 28:

For this reason, therefore, I have asked (parakaleo) to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: “ ‘Go to this people, and say, You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” Acts 28:20-29

he_who_has_earsThis was a watershed moment in Paul’s life. He realized that from now on it was a waste of time to preach to the Jews. Their ears were closed up. The Gentiles would listen. So he would concentrate his efforts with them.

The Jews could not consider that God had changed, that the Messiah had indeed come. They were stuck in their traditions, in the past. They held tightly to their LAW.

He that hath ears let him hearJesus said “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.”  Jesus wanted His people to see that God is Living, God is in the Present, God is not in the past.

Jesus is constantly speaking to us, through His Holy Spirit. If we live in the past, we will cover our ears, or simply ignore what He says TODAY. Several times Jesus pointed out what the Jews thought was right according to the Law and traditions, and Scripture records: “BUT I SAY UNTO YOU!”

Here are the “But I say unto you” passages:

  • But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5:22
  • But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Matthew 5:28
  • But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. Matthew 5:32
  • But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Matthew 5:34
  • But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matthew 5:39
  • But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5:44
  • But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. Matthew 11:22
  • But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. Matthew 11:24
  • But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. Matthew 12:6
  • But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. Matthew 12:36
  • But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Matthew 17:12
  • But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. Matthew 26:29
  • But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him. Mark 9:13
  • But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Luke 6:27
  • But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Luke 10:12

do not listenJesus wants us to realize that He is always speaking, and that we must always be listening. If we believe we already know what we should do, we are being an ELDER BROTHER. We are stopping our ears to what the Holy Spirit is saying TODAY!

As Watchman Nee said: “If I do today what I did a month ago because the Lord leads me to do it TODAY, that is life; but if I do it today simply because he led me to a month ago, that is law. The law can be a week old or centuries old, but the SPEAKING of the Holy Spirit can never be more than 24 hours old”

The Elder Brother lived in the past, and held tightly his conceptions of righteousness and acceptance. But the Father was speaking to him TODAY, and calling him to a FRESH experience of LIFE with the Father and the younger brother.

listen intentlyDo we know the freshness of today’s walk with the Father? Are our ears listening to Him, or are they stopped up?

I am listening, and am ready to go in. I want that fresh daily experience with the Father!

Father: Wake me every morning with the ears of a disciple, willing and wanting to listen and obey!


Parable of Prodigal SonSome suggest we no longer call this the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but the Parable of the Lost Sons.

I suggest that we should call it the parable of the Lost Son and the Selfish Child.

Jesus said the Father had two SONS, using the Greek word “huios” for both. Then the younger SON (huios) left, declaring his freedom, and in that culture became DEAD to his Father. When his Father saw him afar off, he leaped from his chair and ran to meet him. Rejoicing, he told everyone that this SON (huios) of mine was DEAD and is ALIVE again. (has come to life again – anadzah’o)

The younger brother was his SON again. This the Father demonstrated with the ring, the robe and the sandals. They meant the Father had RESTORED his RELATIONSHIP with his SON! WHY? Because our Father is is the Father of LIFE, of HOPE, of LIVING RELATIONSHIPS.

God of the LivingJesus declared this when he answered the Sadducees  “He is not God of the dead, but of the living.Matthew 22:32. The Word further declares:

Not only is God the God of the Living, but Paul declared this to the Romans: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit(Rom. 15:13).

Peter further explained that this is a Living Hope by the Resurrection:Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Pet. 1:3).

The ResurrectionGod is the God of Hope by the Resurrection — in other words, by the triumph of Life over death. This means that in every dark situation, God never despairs and never gives up. For our Father knows the tremendous power of Resurrection, of Life.

Huios vs TeknonThe Father had two SONS, but only one knew the power of RESURRECTION. In fact, when the Elder Brother argued with the Father, the Father called him my CHILD (teknon). Calling him a child was like saying “I know you are mine by birth, but you are not my SON, because we don’t have a REAL RELATIONSHIP!”

Jesus was never referred to as TEKNON of God. He was always called the HUIOS of God. We, on the other hand, are called the TEKNON of God by John to indicate we are BORN into the family of God:

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name.  John 1:12.

The Elder Brother Refused to Go In

Elder Brother Refuses to go in

Both Younger and Elder Brothers were the children of the Father, but as our Parable ends, only one was the SON of the Father. The Younger was the Son because he had come back to life and had come into a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with his Father.

The Elder Brother was a child of the Father, but there was no RELATIONSHIP.

The shocking truth of this Parable is that only the younger son reflected the character of the LIVING FATHER. The sinner was more like his Father than the righteous Elder Brother. WHY? Because the Younger Son was ALIVE, while the Elder Brother was DEAD in his self-righteousness.

Like Father Like SonMatthew 5:9 & 45 use the word huios and it refers to those who reflect the character of God. The Greek word for child or children is teknon. In contrast to huios, it means the fact of birth whereas huios stresses the dignity and character of the relationship. Another aspect of this Greek word, huios,  involves “likeness.” The New Testament contains the concept expressed in the proverb, “Like father, like son” (Matt. 5:45,48). It was typical Hebrew usage to employ the word “son” to express likeness. For instance, those who are peacemakers will be called God’s sons because they are like God (Matt. 5:9). God’s likeness, His image, will be “stamped” upon those who have been brought to maturity and adopted as sons (Rom. 8:29; I John 3:2-3).

One way to understand the difference between the Elder and Younger is to understand another use of HUIOS with the addition of thesia or “huiosthesia” – “adopted or placed as sons”. In the Roman world, the father adopted as a son his own child. Birth made him a child (teknon); adoption made him a son (huios). Between the period of birth and adoption, there were stages of growth, education and discipline, until the maturity was reached for adoption into sonship. With adoption the son was recognized as one who could faithfully represent the father. He had arrived at the point of maturity, where the father could entrust him with the responsibility of overseeing the family business. The son becomes the “heir” of his father’s inheritance. Birth gives one the right to the inheritance, but adoption gives one the participation in the inheritance.

Elder Brother Child Corinthians BabiesThe Elder Brother assumed upon the FATHER’S Stuff because of his natural birth, because he was the first born child. But what the Father was declaring was the SONSHIP of the younger brother because of the RESURRECTION and their restored RELATIONSHIP.

Paul referred to the Corinthians as babies, still on milk. They had been born into the family of God, but had never matured, even though they had been enriched in speech and in knowledge of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:6). In fact, he said they were not lacking in any spiritual gift. The Corinthians probably saw themselves as the Elder Brother saw himself – the Mature Ones. But the Father called him a child, and Paul called the Corinthains babies!

Secret of SonshipWhat makes the difference? How do we Elder Brother Types become SONS? Paul gives us the clue when he says “you are still of the flesh.” What does that mean to born again children of God?

It means we are still walking around in our stinking rotting corpses. And the flesh is abhorred by the Father.  Paul shouts the secret of SONSHIP to all Elder Brothers:

And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. 1 Corinthians 2:12 (NLT)

We have a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with the FATHER of the LIVING, but it is only through the Holy Spirit! We must walk after the Holy Spirit to enjoy this Living Relationship with our Father. It is not on the basis of our works that we have this living relationship. It is on the basis of the Holy Spirit being allowed to LIVE in us!

The Father went outside and pleaded with his Elder Child. The word for plead is paraclete, the same word we use for the Holy Spirit! Picture the Holy Spirit pleading with all us EBT’s to reckon our flesh and works dead, and to FOLLOW HIM, to Walk in the LIFE of the Holy Spirit! This is the only way we will enjoy any RELATIONSHIP with the FATHER!

He is the FATHER of the LIVING, the FATHER of those who have died to the flesh, and now walk in the Living Relationship of the Holy Spirit within us! The younger brother experienced that death and so was welcomed to LIFE. The Elder Brother saw no need to die, and so found no LIFE.

Alive but actually dead to GodElder Brothers must realize they can be all righteous and moral but inwardly be walking corpses, dead to God!  Our morality is worthless without a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with our LIVING FATHER!

God is all about the RESURRECTION! He is all about LIFE! And ther can be no SONSHIP without the RELATIONSHIP! The Resurrection will bring all Elder Brothers (and younger) into RELATIONSHIP with the Father!

Most people who read and study The Parable of the Prodigal Son concentrate completely on the character of the younger son, his repentance, and the father’s forgiveness. And yet look at the text. It doesn’t end with the return of the prodigal. Almost half of the story is about the older son. The story is about two sons, who are both alienated from the father, who are both assaulting the unity of the family. Jesus wants us to compare and contrast them. The younger son is “lost”—that is easy to see. We see him shaming his father, ruining his family, sleeping with prostitutes, and we say, “yes, there’s someone who is spiritually lost.” But Jesus’ point is that the older son is lost too. Let’s learn from the text:

      1. A new understanding of Lostness,
      2. Signs of being an Elder Brother
      3. What we can do to join the Feast?.

1. A startling new understanding of LOSTNESS—verse 28.

  • The elder brother would have known that the day of the prodigal’s return was the greatest day in his father’s life.
  • The father has “killed the fattened calf”, an enormously expensive extravagance in a culture where even having meat at meals was considered a delicacy.
  • The older son realized his father was ecstatic with joy. Yet he refused to go into the biggest feast his father has ever put on. This was a remarkable, deliberate act of disrespect. It was his way of saying, “I won’t be part of this family nor respect your headship of it.
  • And the father had to “go out” to plead with him. Just as he went out to bring his alienated younger son into the family, now he had to do the same for the older brother.

Do you realize what Jesus is saying to his listeners, and to us? The Elder Brother is lost ! At the Very Least He is Missing out on Fellowship with His Father and Brother.

  • The father represents God himself, and the meal is the feast of salvation. In the end, then, the younger son, the immoral man, comes in and is saved, but the older son, the good son, refuses to go in and is lost
  • The Pharisees who were listening to this parable knew what that meant. It was a complete reversal of everything they believed. You can almost hear them gasp as the story ends.
  • And what is it that is keeping the elder brother out? It’s because: “All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed…” (v.29). The good son is not lost in spite of his good behavior, but because of his good behavior. So it is not his sin keeping him out, but his righteousness.
  • The gospel is neither religion nor is it irreligion; it is not morality nor is it immorality. This was completely astonishing and confusing to Jesus’ hearers at the time—and it may even be astonishing and confusing to you

Why is the older son lost?

New understanding of Lostnessa) There is No Relationship.
b) There is No Companionship.
c) There is Only a Selfish Child.

The Father Parakaleo – came along side, is a picture of the Holy Spirit, pleading! Come in, Fellowship with me!

The younger brother wanted the father’s wealth, but not the father. So how did he get what he wanted? He left home. He broke the moral rules. But it becomes evident by the end that the elder brother also wanted selfish control of the father’s wealth. He was very unhappy with the father’s use of the possessions—the robe, the ring, the calf. But while the younger brother got control by taking his stuff and running away, we see that the elder brother got control by staying home and being very good. He felt that now he has the right to tell the father what to do with his possessions because he had obeyed him perfectly.

So there are two ways to be your own Savior and Lord.

  • One is by breaking all the laws and being bad.
  • One is by keeping all the laws and being good.

If I can be so good that God has to answer my prayer, give me a good life, and take me to heaven, then in all I do I may be looking to Jesus to be my helper and my rewarder—but he isn’t my Savior. I am then my own Savior.

The difference between a religious person and a true Christian is that the religious person obeys God to get control over God, and things from God, but the Christian obeys just to get God, just to love and please and draw closer to him.

2. ARE YOU AN ELDER BROTHER TYPE?—verses 29-30.

Elder Brother TypesSome people are complete elder brothers. They go to church and obey the Bible—but out of expectation that then God owes them. They have never understood the Biblical gospel at all. But many Christians, who know the gospel, are nonetheless elder-brotherish. Despite the fact that they know the gospel of salvation by grace with their heads, their hearts go back to an elder-brotherish “default mode” of self-salvation.

Here is how to tell if you are infected with the Spirit of the ELDER BROTHER:

  • AN ANGRY SPIRIT (v.28—“became angry”).

But he was angry (ōrgisthē). First aorist (ingressive) passive indicative. But he became angry, he flew into a rage (orgē). This was the explosion as the result of long resentment towards the wayward brother and suspicion of the father’s partiality for the erring son.

If you believe God owes you a good life…
You will be angry…Why does my buddy have a better life…Why is all this going wrong…
Anger is a characteristic-frustrated, hostile
Elder brothers believe that God owes them a comfortable and good life if they try hard and live up to standards—and they have! So they say: “my life ought to be going really well!” and when it doesn’t they get angry. But they are forgetting Jesus. He lived a better life than any of us—but suffered terribly.

  • A Selfish SPIRIT (would not go in)

Would not go in (ouk ēthelen eiselthein). Imperfect tense (was not willing, refused) and aorist active (ingressive) infinitive. Selfish people are Fleshly People. They are Dead, but don’t realize it.

The Elder was dead and did not realize it. The Younger was dead, and realized it.

  • A SPIRIT OF Joyless and Dutiful Obedience (v.29—“I’ve been slaving for you”).

Duty without beauty.
Younger son – I’m not worthy, make me a slave, Father makes him a Son.
Elder son – I’m your obedient son, so he becomes the obedient slave.
You go to college to study to make money
In the world you spend money because it is beauty.
Totally results oriented, becomes a grind, a duty
Elder Brothers pray but not adoring God.
Prayer is a duty, not a beauty.
I obey and obey but I don’t get anything out of it.
Everything went wrong becasue he was faithful and obedient.

Elder brothers obey God as a means to an end—as a way to get the things they really love. Of course, obedience to God is sometimes extremely hard. But elder brothers find obedience virtually always a joyless,
mechanical, slavish thing as a result.

  • A SPIRIT OF Coldness to Younger Brother-types (v.30—“this son of yours”).

You Don’t Rejoice in what the Father Rejoices in. You have Religious and class superiority. If you ground your value in success or hard work, you have to look down your nose at the poor, the perceived lazy.  When you look at people of different races, classes, you look down at them or creeped out at them you are an elder brother.  The older son will not even “own” his brother. Elder brothers are too disdainful of others unlike themselves to be effective in evangelism. Elder brothers, who pride themselves on their doctrinal and moral purity, unavoidably feel superior to those who do not have these things. If you hate other cultural styles and customs, you are an elder brother.
You don’t grow in love in sweetness. Do evidences of the joy and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus doesn’t lash out at them, condemn the Parisees, the ones who will kill him. You are alienated from the Father’s heart, my child, While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us.
The Cross is the greatest challenge to us. We are so messed up that nothing short of the cross will save you. See the humiliation of the Cross, and the Affirmation of His Love for You.

  • A DOUBTING SPIRIT – Lacking Assurance of the Father’s Love (v.29—you never threw me a party).

As long as you are trying to earn your salvation by controlling God through your goodness, you will never be sure you have been good enough. What are the signs of this? Every time something goes wrong in your life you wonder if it’s a punishment. Another sign is irresolvable guilt. You can’t be sure you’ve repented deeply enough, so you beat yourself up over what you did. Lastly, there is a lack of any sense of intimacy with God in your prayer life. You may pray a lot of prayers asking for things, but not sense his love.

  • An Unforgiving, Judgmental Spirit.

The elder brother does not want the father to forgive the younger brother. It is impossible to forgive someone if you feel “I would never do anything that bad!” You have to be something of an elder brother to refuse to forgive.

3. What we can do about this spiritual condition?

How do we Go in to the FeastAnd he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ” Luke 15:31-32

First, we have to EXPERIENCE DEATH TO SELF

  • Jesus ends the parable with the lostness of the older brother in order to get across the point that it is a more dangerous spiritual condition. The younger brother knew he was alienated from the father, but the elder brother did not.
  • If you tell moral, religious people who are trying to be good, trying to obey the Bible so God will bless them—that they are alienated from God, they will just be offended. If you know you are sick you may go to a doctor; if you don’t know you’re sick you won’t—you’ll just die.
  • Moralistic religion works on the principle, “I obey, therefore God accepts me.” The gospel works on the principle, “I am accepted by God through Jesus Christ, therefore I obey.”
  • These are two radically different, even opposite, dynamics. Yet both sets of people sit in church together, both pray, both obey the Ten Commandments, but for radically different reasons. And because they do these things for radically different reasons, they produce radically different results—different kinds of character. One produces anger, joyless compliance, superiority, insecurity, and a condemning spirit. The other slowly but inevitably produces contentment, joy, humility, poise, and a forgiving spirit.
  • Unless a person and a congregation knows the difference between general religiosity and the true gospel, people will constantly fall into moralism and elder-brotherishness. And if you call younger brothers to receive Christ and live for him without making this distinction clear, they will automatically think you are inviting them to become elder brothers.
  • Must learn to see yourself through the eyes of the Younger Brother.

Second, we HAVE TO EXPERIENCE LIFE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

The Father Entreated (parekalei). Imperfect tense, he kept on beseeching him. This is a picture of the Holy Spirit pleading for the Elder Brother to surrender to His Control, to allow Him to be in charge, and thereby experience the feasting of FULL FELLOWSHIP with the Father and the Son.

  • Remember, again, whom Jesus is speaking to (vv.1-2). Jesus is speaking to his mortal enemies, the men he knows will kill him. On the one hand, this is an astonishingly bold challenge to them. He’s talking to those who want to kill him and telling them that they are lost, that they fundamentally misunderstand God’s salvation and purpose in the world, and that they are trampling on the heart of God.
  • But at the same time, he is also being so loving and tender. When the father comes out to the older brother, that is Jesus pleading with his enemies. He is urging them to see their fatal error. Jesus does not scream at his enemies, or smite them, but lovingly urges them to repent and come into his love.

Climb the Ladder to HeavenAnd so we have a foreshadowing of that great moment on the cross when he says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). This love toward his enemies made him vulnerable and cost him his life. On the cross, instead of blasting his enemies, he lovingly took the penalty of their sins on himself. While we were his enemies, Christ died for us (Rom 5:10).  Knowing what he did for us must drain us of our self-righteousness and our insecurity. We were so sinful he had to die for us. But we were so loved that he was glad to die for us. That takes away both the pride and the fear that makes us elder brothers.

We must stop trying to climb our own ladder to heaven. It is fruitless, it is hopeless. Only when we go to the cross and die to what we are and want and hope, and reach up and take the hand of Jesus – will we have the proper relationship with our Heavenly Father. We will be ALIVE, partakers of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.


Remember-Lots-Wife

Jesus tells us to “Remember Lot’s Wife” in Luke 17:32. I remember watching some movie where it shows her looking back longingly on Sodom, and then suddenly turning into a pillar of salt. It was horrifying to a young child. How could God do something like that?

The RaptureWhen Jesus mentions Lot’s wife, it is in context of looking for His return. So does this mean that when Jesus returns and shouts “Come up hither!” that those that look back or say “wait a minute, let me finish this project” or “let me go back and turn off the iron” will not be raptured?

Elder Brother Left BehindI think what it means is that the Rapture, or any Call of God, simply reveals what is in our heart. Millions of people who thought they were believers in Christ will reach over and find their spouse gone. Many deacons will be left behind. Even many pastors. Jesus began this discourse with His response to the Pharisees demand to know when the Kingdom of God would come. Jesus replied that the Kingdom is not something you look for, it is already here, within us.

Surely he did not mean it was within those self-righteous Pharisees. But ANYONE can have the Kingdom of God within their heart! And if you have the Kingdom of God in your heart, it won’t matter when Jesus comes back!

Jesus does tell us that even with the Kingdom in our heart, the days will grow so wicked that we will long to see Him return. There will be false messiah’s, but when the day of Jesus return is here, everyone will know it,  just as we know there is lightning all around us.

Lots WifeJesus tells us to remember Lot’s wife. She lived in wickedness, yet when the time came to leave, she obeyed, but looked back. She was turned into a pillar of salt. That is what Christians are supposed to be to an evil world, salt. So God left her. I doubt that she ended up in a container of Morton’s salt!

Pillar of SaltWhat does this have to do with Elder Brother’s? The Father was pleading with the Elder Brother to see what was really important, becoming alive from the dead (like the prodigal son), and come in to join the feast. The Father was saying, “hey, come enjoy the Kingdom of God, come enjoy fellowship with Me!“, but the Elder Brother was going “what about my field, what about the crops, what about his behavior, what about MY STUFF!”

Elder Brother Left Behind2So the story ends with the Elder Brother being left behind.

Elder Brother’s must stop looking around at the stuff and start looking to the Father. They must stop saying “what about” and start SEEING the Kingdom of God! They must start saying “what about YOUR HEART Father?The Kingdom is NOT in meat and drink and stuff, but it is in the Father, and in His righteousness, His peace, His joy.FaTHER INVITE eLDER BROTHER IN

He calls all Elder Brother’s to COME! Are you looking back like Lot’s wife? Does His CALL reveal the worldliness and selfishness of your heart? Are you so self-focused that you would hate to be interrupted by the RETURN OF JESUS? If so, I hope you like salt.SALT1