Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sermon Series Leftovers: The Older Brother

You know you love leftovers. Rummaging through the fridge late at night - looking for that 2-day-old-morsel-of-desire. All right - I don't like them much either. But, I have some leftovers from the 3 week series I just concluded that I thought you may find interesting - I'll be posting a bunch over the next few days. This was stuff that wound up on the cutting room floor through the editing process. This first post comes from Sermon #1 on the Prodigal Son called Jesus on Rebellion, Forgiveness, and Jealousy. You can listen to it here if you'd like and the story is found in Luke 15 if you want to look it up. I was fascinated by some stuff about the older brother. All that made it to the actual sermon were my rantings about how we'll never apologize to the older brothers among us for our concentration on lost people. But there was actually some pretty cool stuff I learned about "big bro."

The main thing was the father’s love for and gentleness with the older brother. I had never noticed it before. As I mentioned in my sermon – the section of the older brother is the part of the story for long-time churchgoers -specifically those who tend to judge and condemn others. The father in the story had every reason to tee off on this kid for being an absolute brat – but he deals very lovingly with him. I’m still intrigued that we never really hear the end of the story for the older brother. Check out some similarities in how the father treated both the older son and younger son.

1. The Father initiated the encounters with both boys
Obviously the dad ran to the younger son – but he also initiated contact with the older son. He doesn’t send a servant to get him – he doesn’t yell from inside the house – he purposefully leaves the party to come out and find him.

2. The Father enthusiastically invited them both to the celebration
To the older brother, he “begs” or “entreats” him to enter the party. He doesn’t demand or command him to come in. He pleads. This flies in the face of the older brother’s accusations that his dad was a bit of a slave driver and a tyrant.

3. The Father called them both "my son” and “my child"
He could have gotten into an argument after the older brother’s accusations, but chose to address him as his child.

4. The Father offered them all that he had
While he kills the fattened calf for the younger brother and lavishes gifts upon him, he also tells the older brother, "All that is mine is yours." But there seems to be an implied “if.” The father insinuates, “All that is mine is yours… if you will come in with me and the sinners…otherwise you can stay out here on the porch and mope…your choice.”

That’s an easy one. What an awesome God.

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