Week of Feb 20th — Day Four

February 24th, 2011 | Tags:

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Day Four




A Boy­cott Only a Phar­isee Could Appreciate


If this son’s heart were right, the text would say, “He ran to the house to see what all the joy was about.” In fact, if his heart had not been com­pletely devoid of all nat­ural fil­ial affec­tion, he would have run directly to his father, embraced him, and asked, “What glo­ri­ous news are we cel­e­brat­ing? What’s going on?” Then his father would have said, “Your brother’s home,” and they would’ve embraced and rejoice together with tears.


Read .
What indi­cated that this reli­gious lead­ers, unlike the elder brother and the Phar­isees, was not far from the God’s kingdom?

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But the elder brother did not respond that way. He remained out­side, delib­er­ately keep­ing his dis­tance from the cel­e­bra­tion. He demanded to know what was going on before he would even think of join­ing the fes­tiv­i­ties. says, “he called one of the ser­vants and ask what these things meant.”

The Greek word trans­lated “ser­vant” in that verse sig­ni­fies a young, pread­o­les­cent boy. All the adult ser­vants were inside, of course, tak­ing care of guest. But house­hold ser­vices liv­ing on a large estate such as this would nat­u­rally have their own fam­i­lies. Some of them were young chil­dren. They were them­selves called “ser­vants” by virtue of the fact that they were born into the ser­vants fam­i­lies. They might even occa­sion­ally run errands at the behest of the mas­ter, but they were still too young to be of much help dur­ing gala such as this. So they would play together on the outer fringes of the celebration.

A huge event like this with so much food and the oppor­tu­nity to stay up late into the night was obvi­ously a joy­ous occa­sion for them to. The chil­dren would have their own lit­tle party out­side, and in that way even the ser­vants’ chil­dren became par­tic­i­pants in the joy of this won­der­ful celebration.

That was appar­ently the first group the elder brother met as he came in the direc­tion of the house. Of course, he was a per­son of the high­est rank in the house­hold, so he was not some­one the ser­vant chil­dren would talk to casu­ally. They may have even low­ered their ani­mated chat­ter to a whis­per as he approached. But he sum­moned one of them over and asked what was going on. Actu­ally, the lan­guage Jesus employed sug­gest that he demanded an expla­na­tion, not from his own father, but from some­one who would be totally intim­i­dated by him. The verb tense in is imper­fect, imply­ing repeated action: “He kept inquir­ing.” This sug­gest that he inun­dated the boy with a bar­rage of ques­tions: What is going on? How is it that I didn’t know about this? Why wasn’t I ever consulted?

The ser­vant boy’s answer implies that he expected the elder brother to wel­come the good news: “Your brother has come, and because your father has received him safe and sound, he has kill the fat­ted calf” (V. 27). The Greek expres­sion trans­lated “safe and sound.” in the Eng­lish ver­sion is the same root from which our word hygiene is derived. It speaks of whole­ness, cleans­ing, and health. The ser­vant boy was not merely announc­ing that the prodi­gal son was finally home from the far coun­try, but also that he was dra­mat­i­cally changed for the bet­ter. More impor­tantly, the father had received him. Their rela­tion­ship was restored. That was what this party was all about.

But the elder brother was by no means pleased to hear the news. Given the cul­tural con­text, the seri­ous­ness of the younger boys sin, and the fact that the elder brother had not yet seen the prodi­gal or heard any expres­sion of repen­tance from his own lips, we might not expect him to rise instantly to the same full height of joy his father had. But if this son felt any gen­uine love for his father at all, he would not have reacted to his broth­ers return as if it were bad news. At the very least, he all to have been filled with some sense of relief to know his brother was safely at home. He had wit­nessed the prodi­gals rebel­lion. He knew very well what kind of wicked, self-destructive atti­tude to boy left home with. Wouldn’t it seem rea­son­able that he should be glad to learn that the boy was alive – and curi­ous to see for him­self how his younger brother might have changed?

But he was nei­ther of those things. Instead, his imme­di­ate response was extreme anger. He refused to go in.


Read .
What was Jesus telling the Phar­isees about their rela­tion­ship with God through the exam­ple of the elder brother?

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28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them dis­put­ing with one another, and see­ing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which com­mand­ment is the most impor­tant of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most impor­tant is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The sec­ond is this: ‘You shall love your neigh­bor as your­self.’ There is no other com­mand­ment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the under­stand­ing and with all the strength, and to love one’s neigh­bor as one­self, is much more than all whole burnt offer­ings and sac­ri­fices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the king­dom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more ques­tions. (ESV)


26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the pas­sage about the bush, how God spoke to him, say­ing, ‘I am the God of Abra­ham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? (ESV)


26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the pas­sage about the bush, how God spoke to him, say­ing, ‘I am the God of Abra­ham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? (ESV)


20 If any­one says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen can­not love God whom he has not seen.

1 John 4:21

20 If any­one says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen can­not love God whom he has not seen.

1 John 4:21

21 And this com­mand­ment we have from him: who­ever loves God must also love his brother. (ESV)

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