The True Older Brother

We’re going through a series on Sunday mornings based on Tim Keller’s book The Prodigal God.  We’re learning from Jesus’ parable in Luke 15:11-32 that breaking the rules isn’t the only way to be alienated from God, and that all of us stand in desperate need of the grace that God prodigally gives us in the gospel.  This week I wanted to help students see how Jesus is true older brother who spends his inheritance to bring us home after we have squandered ours, so I wrote a different version of the story – not as an improvement on the original, but as a learning device.  Praise God that we who know Jesus have an elder brother like this:

“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

Not long after his brother had left, the older brother said to his father, “father, I cannot bear to think of my younger brother suffering in this severe famine.  I will go and find him.”  And his father said to him, “my son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.  Take what you need and go and find your brother.”  So the father divided the remainder of his inheritance with his remaining son, and his son set off on a long journey to find his brother.  And when he had found him feeding the pigs, he said to him, “my brother, how many of our father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, and you perish here with hunger!  Come home with me to our father, and he will receive you.

But the younger brother said to his older brother, “I have sinned against heaven and before my Father.  I am no longer worthy to be called his son. I have devoured his property by spending it on prostitutes. How could he receive me?”  And the older brother said to his younger brother, “you have squandered your inheritance, but I will share my inheritance with you to make up for it.  You have disgraced our family name, but I will share my place of honor as first-born with you and never let anyone speak evil of you.  You are here longing to eat the pods you feed to pigs, but my father and I will put the best robe on you, and put a ring on your finger, and shoes on your feet.  We will kill the fattened calf and invite the neighbors and celebrate.  For you were dead, but now you can live; you were lost, but now I have found you.”

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  1. Gavin,

    Keller’s book is great. You would also love Bailey’s book The Cross and the Prodigal. Super easy but fascinating read. Right up your alley.