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A Parable Of The Elder Brother

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
I John 4:11

Many of us have read or heard about the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. A captivating story about the magnanimity of a father’s love for his sons. There was an interesting twist in the parable - the elder brother who was unable to comprehend the heart of the father. He was very unforgiving and unloving.

I would like to illustrate another edition of this parable, which is a true-life story:

A man had two sons. When the younger told his Father, "I want my share of Your estate now. I cannot wait till You die!" His Father agreed to divide His wealth between His sons. A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and took a trip to a land far far away. There he squandered all his money on parties and prostitutes.

About the time his money was gone, a great famine swept over the land. He began to starve, and persuaded a local farmer to hire him to feed his pigs. The boy became so hungry that even the food he was feeding the swine looked better, delicious and yummy. Nobody gave him anything. Nobody loved him nor took pity on him.

Meanwhile back in his Father’s home, the Father was grieved over His lost child. The Elder Son then asked the Father, "Dad, please send Me to seek and find My lost brother. I will bring him safely back to You." The Father was overjoyed at this request. He sent Him.

The Elder Brother searched for a few years before He finally found His younger brother in the sty -altogether filthy, foul-smelling and famished. He threw off all restraints and went ahead to embrace him. Both wept. The Elder Brother immediately gave him some food and water. He then helped him to clean up and gave him His own clean elegant clothing while He Himself put on the dirty and filthy rags. He even gave him His jeweled ring and His leather shoes!

They then returned home to their Father. And while they were still a long distance away, their Father saw them coming. He was overjoyed with loving compassion and ran towards the younger one. He embraced and kissed him. About a thousand of His holy servants saw this sight. They broke forth rejoicing and singing praises!

His younger son then said to Him, "Father, I have sinned against You, and am not worthy to be called Your son…" But his Father, as if not hearing what he had spoken, said to His Elder Son, 'Quick! Kill the fattest calf we have in the ranch. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of Mine was dead and has returned to life. He was lost and is found.' So the party began. The Elder Brother lovingly took great delight in preparing the welcoming feast. There was unspeakable joy as they celebrated dancing and singing through the night.

It is right to celebrate. For the lost son was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!

God is the God of the living and not the dead! He is able to resurrect the dead alive! The dead bones in the valley in Ezekiel 37 will live! Jesus is our Elder Brother. He came to seek the lost. God so loved all of us who are dead and lost in our sins that He sent His only begotten Son to seek us out so that we could return back to Him and live the abundant life in Him.

The gospel is not about believers going to heaven and non-believers going to hell. It is about a loving Heavenly Father Who longs for His lost sons to return back to Him. The Elder Brother had come. But some of the lost brothers were unrepentant. Instead of being grateful, they turned around and killed their Elder Brother. They crucified and hang Him upon a cruel cross.

But this was not the end. The Elder Brother was resurrected to life. He is now preparing the Welcoming Feast. He is the Way back to the Father. He is also the Light along the Way. Now He had and is still training some brothers, who were once lost but now are found, to seek out other lost brothers. Among these elder brothers, some are willing to go and bring back the lost ones. But there are some elder brothers who are unwilling to go. They are just too engrossed in themselves doing their own things. They forget about the sweetness of amazing grace – the journey of the lost to be found.

When we touch the heart of the Father, we will love enough to care and share. We will fulfill our responsibility. And love never fails. The gospel message is about God sending an Elder Son to seek and find His other lost sons. Love should be the primary motivating factor. Others are secondary. The intensity of the love of God in our hearts will fuel the urgency of the gospel going forth!

Let’s be a good elder brother or sister! Let's seek out our younger brothers and sisters who are still lost! Behind their hungry eyes, there are hungry hearts crying out for the love of the Father! Only those who have tasted and remember this goodness will share this gospel of God's love.