Summary: The elder brother is the one we all dislike and to a certain degree have to identify with him.
The elder brother Luke 15:25-32
A Sunday school teacher was telling his class the story of the Prodigal Son and after describing how the household was rejoicing over his return the teacher wondered if they were following the story and so he asked, “Who can tell me, who wasn’t very happy when the prodigal son came home? And a young girl raised her hand and said, “The fatted calf." Well, that was true but there was also the elder brother and that’s who we’re going to focus on today.
“Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.
And he answering said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.’
And he said unto him, ‘son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.’”
Now, let me give you my version of what’s happening here. The scripture says the elder brother came in from the field and I think we can all assume that he had been busy working all day and now he came home tired and he just wanted to sit down and have some supper. And as he got near the house he could hear some music and maybe he saw a few people dancing in the courtyard and he automatically wondered what was going on? And rather than going in the house to find out, he called one of the servants and asked him what’s going on? And the servant explained that his brother had come home and his father was in such high spirits that he threw a party for the entire town and right now there’s a huge barbecue in the yard for anyone and everyone because he killed the fatted calf.
Well, when the son heard that he was fuming mad and he wouldn’t even go in the house, and then it says that the father came out and tried to try to reason with him but when he does he couldn’t seem to get a word in edgewise; because his son started telling him what a lousy father he was. And he started by saying to his father, ‘look” and when he said that, everybody who was sitting there listening to the story would have reacted with an expression of shock on their face. I mean, even when the prodigal came back home he said, “Father” so the older brother was being totally disrespectful. And then he said, “I’ve always worked for you and I never did the kind of stuff he did but you never threw any parties for me. And yet, as soon as he came home after blowing every penny he had on filthy hookers and who knows what, you pull out your wallet and celebrate like he’s the best thing that ever happened. It’s just not fair! He’s gets the fatted calf and I don’t even get a goat. And do you know what he’s really saying? He’s saying, “I’m not like him and I don’t need anybodies forgiveness because I’ve never done anything wrong, but you have. You’ve accepted someone into our family that you should have been ashamed of.”
And in spite of his awful attitude we see his father expressing a selfless kind of love toward him the same way that he did to the younger son. I mean, he reached out in compassion to the hypocrite in the same way he extended a hand of mercy to the rebel. And then his father said, you’ve always been here and I’ve always been glad to have you and everything I’ve got belongs to you, but being happy and having a good time because your brother came home is the right thing to do because we thought he was dead but then we found out he’s alive, I mean, he was lost but now he’s found.
And that’s the end of the story. And it doesn’t tell us if the younger son went back to work and had a whole new appreciation for the family and the business or if the elder brother learned to love his brother or always resented his presence or if they all lived happily ever after. The story just ends with the father’s words that his son was dead and now he’s alive and he was lost but now he’s been found.