Summary: A sermon calling the congregation to Love the unlovable and marginalized by the the church.
The Hypocritical Older Brother
October 24, 2004
Captain Delia and I were away at continuing education this week and while we were there the Bible teacher reminded me something very important about studying the bible the three letters “CIE”. Remember those letters you’ll need them later. We have all heard the parable of the “Prodigal Son” You have probably heard it preached several times.
Jesus is a master Story Teller and this is one of his longest most involved Parables. It just sucks you in. Right from the beginning we get to meet this Younger son. And Jesus Paints the picture of a son we are not supposed to like.
First this younger son approaches his father and asks for his inheritance Do any of you have a problem with the idea of a son asking His father for his inheritance while he is still alive. He might as well have said “Dad I am tired of waiting around for you to drop dead I want everything that I have coming to me now.
But wait it Gets Worse. If we study a little bit about the culture we learn that the family inheritance is always divided up by the oldest son after the father passes. So the Son was also asking his dad to take his older brothers right away from him.
Well the Father divides up his property and Prodigal takes his share and leaves He spends the riches his Father gave him and eventually finds him self feeding pigs and contemplating eating the food that he giving to them. He realizes that He would be better off as a servant in his father’s House. So he rehearses a speech that he will give to his dad and beg his dad to take him back.
But the Story of the Prodigal son isn’t really about the Prodigal Son. There is a real good lesson in the actions of the prodigal son. And I am sure many of you like me can relate to his story.
I know I certainly started of working in my heavenly fathers fields as a pastors Kid. I definitely took the gifts and privileges I was given for granted and turned my back on God. I definitely ended up falling flat on my face, humiliated and helpless I had hit my personal rock bottom, so I maid the Journey home. But even though the parable may teach us a lot through the testimony of the prodigal Jesus did not tell it for that reason.
I have Also heard This Parable preached from the Perspective of the Father. The Prodigal turned his back on his father he embarrassed and humiliated the family name. And yet where was prodigal when the father first saw him and greeted him… That’s right he was still a long way off. The Father welcomed him open arms and killed the fatted calf and had a party for his son who was dead but was restored to life.
We definitely learn something about the character of God from the actions of the Father. God is a loving father who is waiting for us to accept the redemption and grace he wants to lavish on us. No matter ho badly we smear Gods name or how bad we damage his reputation or arrogantly we turn our backs on God he waits for the opportunity to take us back. That’s another great lesson we learn from this parable but that is still not the main lesson it is not the reason why Jesus told the story. Lets just call these other lessons the added benefits of this great parable.
What were the three letter I asked you to remember at the beginning? C. I. E. Would someone other than Captain Delia like to Guess what these letters stand for. I’ll give you a hint they are the key to understanding all scripture…. C. I. E. Stands for “Context Is Everything” If we want to understand the main point of the parable we need to read around it to see it The bible itself tells us why Jesus told it.
Turn with me to Luke 15 1-3 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ 3So he told them this parable:.
So he Told this Parable. Why did Jesus tell the parable to expain to the Pharisees and scripes why he was hanging out with these evil filthy tax collectors and sinners.
OK this is where I need to stop for a minute and discuss this phrase Tax collectors and Sinners. If I ever get smart enough or enough time to write a book it will be a bible study on the rawness of many of the scriptures. The bible is the Word of God and God is a good God. So we naturally assume that his word is going to be a good word. But God is also a real God who exists in a real World Jesus was real and lived in a sin infested fallen world. Tax collectors were considered sell outs to the Jewish people they has turned their back on the jeews and were taxing them and giving the money to rome the enemy all to make a prophet. They viewed the same way we would an American Taliban or a Black member of the Ku klux klan. The very mention of Jewish tax collectors made people shiver with anger. The reference to tax collectors doesn’t have that same effect on us 2,000 years later. And Sinners represented those who were known committers of sexual sin or those who had turned their back on their faith. So lete me read that again with the Kind of Rawness it would have had in the ears of the early Christian church.