The Other Brother
One of the most often mentioned parables of Jesus is the parable of the Prodigal Son. In this parable Jesus tells the story of a man having two sons. The youngest son comes to his father and asks to have his inheritance early. The father agrees and the youngest son is off to another country with his newfound loot. After some time, he wastes all his money with what the bible calls prodigal living. The word prodigal is defined as wasteful or recklessly extravagant. That sounds like a ‘too much, too soon’ situation that young man found himself in. While the bible doesn’t specifically give us details of how he wasted what was given to him. We can conclude that it was a gross mismanagement of his inheritance that left the young lad broke busted and disgusted. Things got so bad for him that he had to take a menial job feeding pigs that clearly wasn’t enough to sustain him because he daydreamed of eating the pods that he fed the swine. Then something happened that commenced his comeback. In Luke 15:17-19, the bible says, “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, “and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’
So, the young man arose and headed home and as he was a great distance away his father noticed him and came running to meet and greet him. The young son apologized to his father, confessed his sins, and was content with being giving a servant’s job. However, the father ignored his request and summoned the servants to bring a robe, ring, sandals, and cook the biggest calf they had. The father wanted to celebrate the fact that his son who was lost was now found. He who was dead (figuratively) was alive again.
Now the reason Jesus told this story was because the Pharisees and scribes, the religious self-righteous scoffers of the day, were accusing Jesus of welcoming sinners and tax collectors. The story of the Prodigal Son is a perfect example of how the Father God feels about repentant sinners when they come to him. However, not everyone is so thrilled with that! That brings us to the other brother. Remember that at the beginning of the story the man had two sons. He divided his inheritance between them both at the time that the younger one asks for his. The older brother stayed and was faithful to serve his father and didn’t spend a dime of his inheritance. Yet when he heard that all the celebration was for his younger brother he became angry and wouldn’t go in to the celebration. The father pleaded with him and according to verses 29-30, “So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. ‘But as soon as this son of yours (notice how he didn’t say my brother) came, who has devoured your livelihood with prostitutes (very possibly an exaggeration), you killed the fatted calf for him.’
The older brother is the perfect picture of the self-righteous scoffers of Jesus’ day (and ours) who feel that they are the only ones that deserve anything from God. They think that by their upright living and church attendance and following the letter of the law that somehow that puts them in a special place with God. My friend you can’t be good enough to earn favor from God. The most upright holy person on the planet (whomever that may be) is still not good enough. That is why we need Jesus. The compassionate Father that we serve has in His great love for us given the perfect gift of His Son Jesus Christ for all. He is what the world needs now.