Summary: I would like us to study the parable of the prodigal son considering our own relationship with God, centering our lives on Jesus, and having intimacy with the Father. Oftentimes, our anger and refusal to "join the party," as it were, causes us to miss muc
MISSING THE PARTY
On New Year’s Day 1963, USC played Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. The Wisconsin quarterback, Ron VanderKelen, was one of the all-time great college quarterbacks. I was fourteen years old at the time, and our family was gathered for New Year’s Day celebrations. Pete Beathard of USC threw four touchdown passes in the first half, and USC was up by a score of 42-14. At half- time, I got upset with my parents about something (at this time, I really can’t remember what) and I marched off to my bedroom to sulk. I waited for someone to come and offer the sympathy I just knew that I had deserved, but no one did. I thought it was no big deal, because the game was practically over at half-time anyway. After the game, my brother came and told me that Ron VanderKelen had gotten hot in the second half and Wisconsin had almost completed an incredible comeback. The final score was USC 42, Wisconsin 37. VanderKelen threw for 401 yards, and 11 Rose Bowl records were broken that day. But, because of my anger, I had missed it.
This morning I would like us to study the parable of the prodigal son considering our own relationship with God, centering our lives on Jesus, and having intimacy with the Father. Oftentimes, our anger and refusal to "join the party," as it were, causes us to miss much of the joy of living the Christian life. Are we refusing to join in? If we are to connect our hearts to God’s heart and become his sons and daughters, this is a critical element of the spiritual life.
Today, however, let’s consider the one who refused to join the party. I’m referring to the older brother in the story of the prodigal son. Today, we’re going to consider the older son’s response to what occurred when the prodigal returned home.
The four parables in Luke 15 spiral in intensification. We have stories about 100 sheep, 10 coins, 2 sons, and 1 son. The parables are told in doublets of 2 and 2. The parable of the prodigal son (vv. 11-32) is a double parable, like the story of the sheep and the coin (vv. 4-11).
This fourth story concerns the older son. Turn with me as I read. Luke 15:25-32:
"Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things might be. 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 became angry, and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began entreating him. But he answered and said to his father, ’Look! For so many years I have been serving you, and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a kid, that I might be merry with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with harlots, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ And he said to him, ’My child, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to be merry and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found’ " (NASB).
The older brother is in the fields when the younger son arrives home. Coming in from his labors, he finds a great celebration in progress, with music, dancing and laughter.
In response, he becomes extremely agitated and bothered. He feels left out. When he asks his servant what is going on, he learns about his brother’s return. This angers him, and he refuses to share in the rejoicing. The father comes out to talk with him, but the older son chooses to humiliate him publicly by quarreling with him in front of the guests--a very serious matter. The conversation between son and father indicates that the older son is lost. In fact, he is doubly lost: he is lost to both his father and his brother.
1. The older son does not address his father with honor.
2. He complains that he has served him for many years, thereby demonstrating the spirit of a slave, not a son.
3. He thinks he has not disobeyed him, but this very action is disobedient.
4. He accuses his father of favoritism.
5. He declares he is not part of the family and would rather be merry with his friends--the same desire the younger son expressed before he left home.
6. He also attacks his younger brother, calling him "this son of yours."