“Really?! Is that what the whole noise is about? You guys should please give me breathing space to rest after a hard day’s work.”
His deep male voice filled the air, drowning the music in the hall.
Hearty chats paused, dance steps halted and clicking sound of wine glasses stopped. Eyes followed the direction of the voice. People moved towards the window to find out who it was.
The father, recognizing his elder son’s voice rose from his seat and briskly walked out through the front door to meet his son. (And I heard that when the father walks out of a Jewish party, it halts till he returns.)
“Please son, what’s the matter? Come in!”
This elder son, on sighting his father, gave him a piece of his mind:
“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.” Luke 15: 29-30.
I guess, “yes”.
The Prodigal Son Story
We remember that story more like the story of the Prodigal Son. We talk so much about that prodigal son… and about the Father’s Love.
But there’s one other character in the story we most times overlook. The elder brother.
And he’s the person Jesus’ audience on that day of telling this story, needed to concern themselves with.
You and I need to take note of this elder brother too.
Find out why as you read on.
At the beginning of that text (Luke 15:2), we see the Pharisees and scribes murmuring – “because Jesus receiveth sinners and eateth with them.”
Then Jesus told them two parables first, and then this – about the prodigal son.
“A certain man had two sons,” verse 11 says.
We can liken those two sons to two types of people in the household of God – the Church.
1. The redeemed “prodigals”:
They were all out for the world. Did all the known bad things till they broke down at the cross. There, mercy met and transformed their lives. They are now new creatures in Christ.
2. The reputable “piouses”:
These are the devoted guys. Got saved in children church… joined the choir… And is now a section leader. Good reputation.
However, these reputable piouses still have two groups:
A) The Princes: These are the true sons of their Father – our heavenly Father. Filled with the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
B) The Pharisees: These are the self-righteous, “do you know when we started this race… I’m more qualified than you” people.
Back to our story.
We’ve got a redeemed prodigal son in the house. And a party is thrown to celebrate. After all, there’s also JOY in heaven when a sinner comes home.
The reputable guy shows up. Instead of walking in to find out what’s going on, he turns to a servant to ask for explanation.
The servant gives him half of the story.
“Your brother is back, and your father killed the fatted calf to celebrate his return.”
He didn’t tell him how sorrowful and repentant his brother was when he showed up at the house early that day.
And this elder brother didn’t care to hear from the horse’s mouth. The stuffs buried in his heart jumped out.
Because really, he’s in the second class of this reputable piouses – the Pharisees.
This elder brother has his own sin to deal with… That he overlooked. He looked like a good guy.
I searched my heart as I read through this, and you really need to do this same.
The Elder Brother Syndrome
This guy was soaked in self-righteousness, self-glory and self-absorption. He pulled out his credentials of what he felt qualified him for a good treat rather that “this thy son… which devoured thy living with harlots.” Self didn’t allow him open up and have intimate relationship with his father… Enjoying all the good stuff available to him as a SON. Self locked his heart from the joy of having his brother back home. Completely transformed.
Think about yourself. Does self and pride keep you away from joyfully fellowshipping with your brethren? Do you view your work for God as a contract paper? Like: “God I’m slaving out, doing all this hard work for you. Hope you’ll reward me more than the other person?”
Or do you serve God from a heart of love and worship? Are you close to His heart? Communing with Him always and receiving the blessings He has for His children. Yes, God’s got a lot in store for those who love and serve Him. But you can’t have it if you’re thousand kilometers away from Him.
“And he was angry, and would not go in…” (Luke 15:28). This brother was angry instead of happy at the merriment on his brother’s return. Anger resteth in the bossom of fools. Do you allow anger to grip your heart when see someone who you think you’re better than being praised, promoted and congratulated? That’s an elder brother syndrome that needs to be dealt with.
Or are you angry with God? Pointing fingers at Him and accusing Him of being “unfair.”
But whose standard?
“Why will they kill the fatted calf for him instead of me?” What’s your reaction when you see someone having what you think you deserve?
That amiable husband/wife, that good job, the promotion, the cheers and congratulations, the acceptance and love… You eye him/her? And even bad-mouth – ” who knows the trick he played to get it.”
It’s Time for Transformation
Keep the big title and voluminious portfolio one side.
This elder brother sins need to be dealt with. Else, it will keep you away from God and His blessings.
The blood of Jesus is still available to wash you and make you new. Plunge in today.
Now you know it’s not just the younger brother that can go off track, the elder brother too. Beware!
What else can you say about this elder brother?
And yes, kindly share this… Let other “elder brothers” read and be touched too!