Week of Feb 20th — Day Five
Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five
The True Heart of the Elder Son Revealed
Don’t miss the real reason for the elder brother’s intense displeasure. As we will see in the chapter that follows, all this pouting fury was not so much aimed against the prodigal son. Instead, it was focused directly against the father. The first born son clearly had no affection for his younger brother, but the father was one he most resented.
He could tell from the servant’s report that his father had made peace with the prodigal. The father had not only “received him safe and sound,” but he had “kill the fat dead calf,” too (v. 27). The meaning of such a gesture was clear. The father had already fully forgiven the wayward boy, and their reconciliation was complete.
Worst of all, the father was spending resources that would rightfully belong to the elder brother as soon as a father died – in effect, diminishing the value of the “faithful” son’s inheritance.
The elder brother was every bit as self-seeking and devoid of a true appreciation for the father as the prodigal son was at the beginning of the parable.
This elder son didn’t care at all about the father’s joy. All he cared about was his own rights and possessions. The elder brother was every bit as self-seeking and devoid of a true appreciation for the father as the prodigal son was at the beginning of the parable.
But, for the first time in the story, the Pharisees were saying to themselves, Yes! That is exactly the right attitude! That is precisely what any self-respecting person ought to feel. He is right to be outraged. We are outraged. This whole story has described one atrocity after another, and it’s about time someone in the story spoke up and said so.
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
- Luke, chaper fifteen, verses one and two, ESV
This is an exact mirror of the real life situation we saw at the very beginning of the chapter, noted above. The scribes and Pharisees remained outside the celebration. They resented it. They were outraged by it. It was a scandal and an affront to their dignity.
Read the following:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. … And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
- John, chaper one, veses 14, 16, and 17, ESV
Fill in the blanks with words you think best complete the following statement.
The Pharisees resented Jesus so deeply because he was all about
In contrast, the Pharisees themselves were they were all about
The elder son is a perfect emblem for the Pharisees. He had no appreciation for grace because he thought he didn’t need it. As we shall soon observe, he figured he had earned his father’s full approval without needing any special grace or mercy. If he didn’t need grace, and had never even thought to ask for any, he didn’t see why grace should be offered to anyone else. The truth is, he didn’t really even believe in grace. He had no concept of unmerited favor. The very idea of free forgiveness was repugnant to him.
That was precisely the spiritual state of the scribes and Pharisees who criticize Jesus for consorting with sinners. It was exactly the kind of self obsession and egocentric religious fervor their system fostered. Jesus likened them to fancy burial vaults – bright and shiny on the outside, but full of death and decay on the inside (). They were religious hypocrites who stayed near the house of God for the sake of their own public image. But they secretly enjoyed all the same evil things as any unbeliever.
Even all the Pharisees’ religious activity was really only about their own self-promotion. They may have truly thought that they were earning the good will of God. But the truth is that they were completely alienated from God. They had no sincere desire to honor Him. They had no vital interest in heaven’s joy – in fact, they could not even tolerate that joy because it was joy over the repentance of sinners, and they refuse to confess their own need for repentance. So they openly spurned the joy, and they deeply resented those who did repent.
Read the following and Underline the Pharisees motives for their religious activities.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”
- Matthew chapter six, verse one, ESV
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
Matthew chapter six, verse five, ESV
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
Matthew chapter six, verse sixteen, ESV
As Jesus continued with the parable and the Pharisees began to recognize themselves in the elder brother, they’re murmured expressions of displeasure must have begun to rise in the deafening crescendo. The lesson the Lord had been laying the groundwork for, from the start of the parable, was about to become very, very clear – and by now they might even see it coming.
Posted with Dragon Dictate … Please report any errors.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. (ESV)