Summary: A look at the two brothers in the Parable of the Prodigal Son to show how we often think of our own selfish desires instead of others.
Others by Dan Mahan
Luke 15: 32 “We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, and now he is found!”
The text today is a familiar story. Most of us have heard many sermons about this text. Today we are going to look at it in a different light.
Jesus told many stories. He is called “The Great Storyteller.” I would have loved to have heard Jesus tell His stories, wouldn’t you? I am sure that He told them in a way that peaked the interest of his audience. I wonder if his disciples thought to themselves, “Oh, boy, Jesus is telling another story! I love it when Jesus tells a story!” We tell stories to teach lessons. That is what Jesus did, too. He taught stories—or parables as they are called—about His Kingdom, both on Heaven and on earth.
This parable is probably one of Jesus’ longer and more vivid stories. Jesus began this story, “Once upon a time, there was a Father who had 2 sons.” Our children had this story in children’s church this month for Father’s Day. After church, Darlene told me that when she got to this point in the story and said “A father had two sons”, little Hannah stopped her. She curiously asked “What were their names?” Jesus gave no names in His stories. In many, we could insert our names, for many of Jesus’ stories were really about me and you, his believers.
We like names in stories. So, let’s give the characters in this story names. Let’s call the little brother, Little Joe. And of course, the older brother we will call Hoss. The family at the Ponderosa and the family in Jesus’ story are similar in some ways. There is a father who owned lots of land. His sons helped him work the land. No ma is mentioned. If you recall, the brothers often had conflicts. In fact, often Little Joe and Hoss had knock-down drag outs, didn’t’ they? But their Pa was a loving father, who loving restored the relationships.
Jesus said “One day Little Joe goes to Pa and demands his share of the inheritance.” This was a selfish desire. I am sure it hurt his Pa greatly when he made this request. It showed great disrespect to his father. Pa could have had him stoned for such a demand. But Pa, being the loving Pa that he was, gave the inheritance share to Little Joe and also to his older brother, Hoss. Little Joe takes the money, packs his saddle bags, saddles his Pinto & rides off into the sunset. All the time, the younger son is only thinking about himself. He has no thought about his family. He has no concern about what effect his actions would have on his family. Who would take over his chores in his absence? He didn’t consider the great hurt and pain he’d cause Pa and the many hours of worry about his whereabouts.
The younger brother or Little Joe spent his share of the inheritance on frivolous living—wild parties, gambling, women. In a matter of time—we don’t know how long, but I don’t think it took long—he had nothing left. He got the only job that he could get, a job feeding pigs. This job was a disgrace for a Jew. Even to be around a pig was considered unclean and disgraceful.Recently we had a wedding here at the church. At the reception, they served a great buffet. As you can tell, I love buffets! On the buffet, they served Roasted Pig. Now Darlene and I were doing just fine, going through that buffet line until Darlene got up to that pig. She caught a glance of that pig’s head and took off! She wanted no part of that pig! I had to fill her plate—with no meat of course—and bring it to her!
Little Joe was so broke and so hungry that he desired to eat the pig’s feed. Now I’ve been hungry before and I’ve eaten pig before. But never have I been so hungry that I desired to eat pig’s slop! That’s pretty hungry! Little Joe said to himself “I know what I will do. My pa’s servants have plenty of food and everything they need. I will go back home to my Pa and ask him to make me one of his servants. At least, I won’t go hungry.” Notice what he did not say, “I have wronged my father. I will go and seek forgiveness.” True, he said the words “I will say, ‘Father I have sinned against heaven and against you,” But I believe it was words only, and repentance was not the true motive for his returning toward home at that time. He had left home thinking about himself and now he was returning home thinking about self, also. A somewhat self-centered thought made him head back toward home. But I believe as he walked toward home, his attitude changed. I believe that as he walked, he practiced what he was going to say to his Pa when he got there. Have you ever done that? Have you ever thought over and over to yourself what you’re going to say to someone? I believe that as he walked along, he also thought about his loving father-- and he thought more and more about how he had hurt and wronged him. By the time the younger son reached home, he was returning with a repentive heart.