A Tale of Two Brothers

ATTENTION: This message is for anyone who needs for God to perform a miracle in their lives (or for anyone who may one day need for God to perform a miracle).

Let’s go straight to the Scripture (which is found at Luke 15:11-32):

11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:

12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,

19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:

24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.

26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.

27 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.

28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

29 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:

30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

32 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.

Just about anyone who has ever darkened a church door has heard this story.  A rebellious son asks his father for his inheritance and then squanders it on wine, women, and song.  Eventually, he becomes so broke that he has to find work tending to swine — which for a Jew was especially shameful.  Finally he comes to his senses and says, “Hey, I’ll go back to my father and ask for a job as a servant; at least they eat better than this.”  So he goes back home, where he sees his father waiting for him to return.  Such a beautiful picture of unconditional love.

Over the course of 2,000 years, I suspect that there have been hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of sermons about the “prodigal son.”  But in my life I have heard very little about the older son.  You know?  He’s the one who got upset when his father celebrated the return of the rotten scoundrel who had wasted his inheritance on “harlots” (as the King James Version records).

Well, if you are a Christian — if you are a believer in Jesus — who for whatever reason needs a miracle from God in a situation that your now face, the story of the older brother is the most important story that you will hear today.

As the passage shows, the older brother did everything right and nothing wrong.  He worked in his father’s field.  He obeyed his father’s commands.  He was the perfect son.  Or so it seemed.

Look closely at verse 29:

29 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:

For “these many years,” the older brother said, “do I serve thee.”

The older brother didn’t see himself as a son.  He viewed himself as a servant.   Like a servant, the older brother expected to get paid for his work.  So when he heard that his father was throwing a party for his younger brother — the younger brother, mind you, who had disrespected their father by taking his money and leaving for parts unknown– the older brother was angry.  He was furious.  He was bitter.

“Thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends.” 

Now before we go any further, can you understand from where he is coming?  The older brother has done everything right and absolutely nothing wrong.  The younger brother, on the other hand, has done nothing right and absolutely everything wrong. If anyone deserves to be celebrated, it’s the older brother!  But instead of rewarding the older brother for his “many years” of loyal service, the father throws a feast, a banquet, an extravagant party, for the worst possible excuse of son — the one who took his inheritance and blew it on prostitutes.

Look at the father’s reply:

31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

Everything the father had was the older son’s already.

Ponder that thought.  Contemplate it very carefully.

The fatted calf — and all the other cattle in the herd — belonged to the older son.

The house where the party was taking place — and every other building on the estate — belonged to the older son.

Everything that the father owned belonged to the older son.

So why hadn’t the son killed his own fatted calf and hosted a party for his friends?  Better yet, why was the older son still working in the field?

Essentially, for “many years” the older son worked in his father’s field to earn something he already possessed.   Therefore, instead of behaving like a son, he felt like an over-worked but under-appreciated servant.

Now, before we delve any further into the older brother, let’s take a closer look at the father.

When the story begins, the younger brother asks the father for his inheritance.   Did the father argue with him?  Did he refuse his request?  No he didn’t.  Even though it broke his heart to say goodbye to his son, the father gave the younger brother everything he asked for — even though the lad clearly didn’t deserve to have it.

The next time we see the father, it is when the younger brother returns.  The father is, presumably, the first person to see him.  And when the father does see his son, the father drops everything and runs to him.

The last time we see the father is when he is speaking to the older brother and tells him that everything he has belongs to the older brother.

Notice the complete and unconditional grace of the father.

When the rebellious son comes to his father and asks for his entire inheritance, the father blesses him with it.

When the rebellious son returns to his father after having blown his inheritance, the father runs to him, dressing him with a robe and celebrating his arrival.

When the perfect son angrily refuses to enter the house, the father comes out to him and tells him that he owns everything.

Do you see the pattern?

Both brothers received extravagant blessings from the father every time they were in his presence.  Conversely, both brothers received nothing from the father when they were out of his presence.

The older brother, in particular, was so busy working for his father that he was unable to receive the blessings that his father was ready, willing, and able to provide.

I think we can reasonably assume that the father was not working in the field, himself.  Had he been working in the field, himself, he would have arrived to the house at the same time the older brother did.  Besides, the  father had servants to do the work for him.

Assuming that the father was not working in the field, then the older brother’s laboring actually kept him from being in his father’s presence, and by extension, from the blessings that his father would most certainly have bestowed.

Simply put, the father didn’t bless his sons based upon their performance.  The fact that the older brother did right and the younger brother did wrong was of no import.

No, the father blessed the sons — both of them — because they were his sons and because they were in his presence.

And so, if you need for God to preform a miracle in your life, here is what you need to do:

First, you have to become a son (or daughter) of the Father God.  Reconciliation with God comes when we place our faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  When Jesus died, He paid the price for our sins.  All you have to do to become a son (or daughter) of the Father God is to place your trust in the finished work of Christ.

The Apostle Paul writes in the book of Romans, chapters 8 and 10:

Chapter 8

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Chapter 10

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Jesus also describes this experience in Mark 16:

15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Now, after you have been adopted as a son or daughter of God — and I suspect that most of you already have — all that is left for you to receive your miracle is for you to enter into God’s presence.  But to do that, you have to stop behaving like a servant and get out of the field.

You have to stop trying to impress God with your religiosity, or your good works, or your obedience.

Just stop it.

Your good works do not bring the presence of God.  Instead, the presence of God produces your good works.

Your obedience does not bring the presence of God.  Instead, the presence of God produces your obedience.

You cannot be in the house with the Father (or on the the side of the road with the Father looking for your prodigal brother) if you are in the field working like a servant trying to earn God’s blessing.  And if you are not with the Father, you will not receive your blessing.  It’s as simple as that.


3 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Brothers

  1. Pingback: I Believe in Miracles | The Sociable Conservative

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