Summary: The irony of thanksgiving is sometimes those closest to the Father’s blessings can become the least thankful. The Prodigal’s brother demonstrates this reality by his words and actions.

Thanksgiving’s Empty Chair

Luke 15: 25 - 32


A woman was visiting some people who lived on a farm, and she noticed a pig limping in the backyard with a wooden leg. She asked the farmer, "What happened to the pig?" The farmer said, "Oh, Betsy is a wonderful pig. One night the house caught fire and she oinked so loud she woke us and we got the fire truck in time to save the house." The woman said, "That’s really something!" The farmer continued, "That’s not all, one day my youngest fell in the pond and Betsy oinked so loud that she got our attention and we were able to pull my daughter out of the pond in time." The woman said, "That’s really amazing! But I still don’t understand why the pig has a wooden leg. The farmer said, "Well, when you have a pig that special, you don’t want to eat him all at once!"

Gratitude didn’t run very deep for the three legged hero.

Just how deep does your gratitude run for God?

Read the Passage about the Prodigal’s Brother

On such a great day for thanksgiving, surprisingly every chair was filled except one. It was the chair right next to the robe covered prodigal. It belonged to the elder brother. The good boy who minded his own business, lived by the rules and stayed clear of trouble was coming home after a hard day of chores on the ranch. He heard the commotion but was unaware that the fuss had to do with a surprise homecoming by baby brother.

You would have thought the news would have followed with a heartfelt reunion of two brothers. As far as he figured it, he’d never lay eyes on his brother again. He was as good as dead. Come to think of it, the fact that his younger sibling ever had the nerve to come back begin to muster up some deeply negative feelings. The prodigal basically told dad he was as good as dead by asking for his inheritance before there was any talk of funerals. And while he ran off to live with reckless irresponsibility, who beared the brunt of responsibility but big brother. And how could dad even consider throwing a party for a son that treated him so shamefully. Not to mention, how did he ever let him step one foot on the estate, at all?

It was more than he could stand. His hearty appetite seemed to fade with the news of celebration over his brothers return to the family farm. It was repulsive and he wanted no part of the unscheduled party. He refused to go in to the house - to welcome back his brother. No forgetting and no forgiving would come from him.

Then something happens, not sure if he sees his older son through a window or gets word of his refusal to join the party- the father steps out to urge his older son to join them at the table. The pleading must have been just too much for this son to bear. Like a dam that gives way, the older son breaks loose with great emotion all the feelings that he’s held back for a long time.

Out comes resentment toward dad for not giving him such treatment. He is embittered by his brothers unbridled passions and wasted living. He is frustrated that he will again have to share the farm with his brother- the loser. The last thing in the world he wants to do is have a party- and he makes this perfectly clear!

Here’s the underlying question.

The controlling question for all of us-


If any one should have been absolutely contented, shouldn’t it have been the older brother?

Amazingly doing all the right things, possessing the benefits of estate living are not guarantees of a grateful heart.

Looking at the interchange between father and elder brother, we discover some things that point to a heart plagued with thanklessness.

I. He was Performance Driven

v.29 “Lo, these many years, I have been serving you...I never transgressed...and yet you never gave me a goat”

This statement uncovers much of the reason this brother lacked joy:

1. The older brother marks time

2. The older brother tracks behavior

3. The older brother feels entitled

II. He was Possessions Blind

v.31 the father reminds the son, “all that I have is yours”

Bible ex. David wanting Uriah’s wife was described by Nathan this way:

2 Sm. 12:2-4 READ IT

The older brother had everything but still felt he needed something more

Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they haven’t found it, but because they haven’t stopped to enjoy it.

Cineas was disturbed at Pyrrhus’s intent to go to war against the Romans. “Sir, when you’ve conquered them, what will you do next?” Sicily is near at hand and easy to master. “And when you have conquered Sicily? Then we will pass on to Africa and take Carthage. “When these are conquered, what will be your next attempt?” Then we will fall upon Greece and Macedon and recover what we’ve lost there. “Well, when all are subdued, what fruit do you expect from all your victories?” Ah, then we’ll sit down and enjoy ourselves. “Sir, may we not do it now and forego all the preliminaries?”

Copy Sermon to Clipboard with PRO Download Sermon with PRO
Talk about it...

Peter Loughman

commented on Oct 23, 2007

This is very good, you have wonderful insight. It would be great if we could see more of your sermons. Thanks.

Butch Payne

commented on Nov 22, 2008

outstanding!!! I''ll probably use some ofthis on Sunday thanks

Join the discussion