the father begging sad prodigal son's older brother

Hard to Believe Facts About The Prodigal Son’s Older Brother

Hard to Believe Facts About The Prodigal Son’s Older Brother

Commentators and writers seldom talk about the prodigal son’s older brother. Though, the intent of the parable is to show God’s response to repentant sinners. However, each person involved has a stake in the story.  But he answered his father, Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet, you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.

I found these four often omitted striking lessons in the life of the prodigal son’s older brother.

1.    He had a wrong perspective about his father: Reading the prodigal son’s older brother’s statement you’ll discover the only picture of his father is that of a hostile unfriendly and unaccommodating person. Just as some children cannot approach their father. Perhaps, based on some childhood experience, or the picture painted by the mother.

Interestingly,as awesome and holy as God is, he is approachable. I mention the fear of God in the other post. Some felt it will be unpleasant to God ,if we socialize. Unfortunately,some have even seen singing, clapping and dance as an insult to a long distance God who is so holy that such things will reduce God to our mate. However we can approach God for anything, including our sin-soaked life, failure, complaint, and bitterness both towards him (God) and men.

The prodigal son’s older brother cannot approach his father freely because of the wrong notion about him. If I may ask you? How much knowledge do you have about your father (God)? The prodigal son’s older brother knew only a fraction of his father’s personality. This young man saw his father as a slave driver who uses and dumps.

Jesus saw Bartholomew as a blind man. Yet, he asks him what you want me to do for you.  Peter didn’t just follow Jesus like a dumb fool. He asked master what’s in for those of us that had forsaken all and followed you? Some would call that carnality. However, the response of Jesus was as shocking as that of the father of the prodigal son. God expected our piety as his children. Yet, we are to make our demand on heaven if we ever want to claim some of our rights.

2.    He didn’t know his position and right in the family. The older brother of the prodigal son belittled himself to think he would be spoon fed by his father. No, God understood what we needed yet he expected us to ask.  In Israel, the first child is entitled to get double of what other children will get as an inheritance. Imagine any child of Bill Gates or Dangote sleeping on the street without a roof over his head. This is the way some believer behaves. He that gave us his son, meaning anything is achievable, “what is askable is takeable” only for the asking.

This guy was afraid of asking for his right just as some are afraid taking step for fear of failure or rejection. My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours Luke 15:31 (NIV). The father’s responses must have choked him. “All I have is yours”. Yet this young man is dying of thirst in the ocean. God will do nothing about our situation if we will not act on our faith. He will not do what we could for ourselves. In the meantime some of the prodigal son’s older brother pals would have been asking him each time he attends their party. Friend when will you host us in your home? He would have responded by presenting his father as a conservative and prudent father who will not part away with his money on a social issue apart from business.

The statement of the older brother of the prodigal son shows he is so preoccupied with the future that he lost the fun of the present. He rarely goes on holiday.  But he answered his father, Look! “All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders, yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends” Luke 15:29 (NIV). This is the picture of some Christian.

They are heavenly conscious, but earthly useless. Therefore buddy  you can enjoy the best of the two worlds. While you wait for the kingdom of God you can demonstrate his riches  on this side of life. “All I have is yours”. It means money, houses, car, and treasure are all ours. All the father had belong to his children but the prodigal son’s older cannot get that.  They are all yours. Does that resonate with you? Live your life to the fullest in Holiness and righteousness down here. After all, Abraham, David, Job, etc., made it both and in eternity.

3-He was bitter and unforgiving: The prodigal son’s older brother became angry and refused to go in. Luke 15:28. The devil takes the better part of us with bitterness, anger, and lack of forgiveness. Bitterness will always blind you to the opportunity in your competitor’s story. Your worst enemy today may be your best friend tomorrow. If you fail to forgive yourself or others you’ve shut the door of rebound to fellowship and stardom. Regrettably, the man feared competition. He thought the arrival of his brother will reduce his double portion of his father’s estate, wrong! The world is big enough with God’s abundant resources to go round. It’s no use being envious of others.

For instance when you are sad at other people’s recovery and blessing, the signals you are sending is that you do not have faith in God, you are still canal, and you’re not competent in your chosen career.

Accordingly, the prodigal son’s older brother felt cool when his brother left home. He must have been happy that his brother would not return. At best if he dared turn up someday their father would reject him. Don’t be delighted by the downfall of any man. Since no one is so secure about success outside God.

The devil will not be happy seeing anyone repenting and coming to Christ, so he is happy as you count years in the Lord with nothing to show for it. After all he was driven out of heaven where you hope to go after you sojourn here on earth. As Dr Wilson puts it the devil and the prodigal son’s older brother felt “this is not fair”.

4. He didn’t know the worth of his father’s love: The prodigal son’s older brother cannot come to terms with his father’s love, grace, and forgiveness to the extent of welcoming his erring son. See what great the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1John1:3 (NIV). God is ever ready to forgive us if we can humble ourselves and forgive us.

From the aforementioned facts. you will see the same scene in the life of the older brother of the prodigal son played out in the life of most Christians. Ordinarily, I  celebrate the dedication and obedience of this young man though he didn’t enjoy the fruit of his labor. Notwithstanding,  his life teaches that the blessings of God are for grab for the asking once I keyed into his principle of obedience.

By the way, have you found yourself behaving as the prodigal son’s older brother before? How have you been able to handle sibling rivalry? In such case how do you react when you are cheated or denied your right? Share your experiences in the comment below.

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Author: Joseph Akinrinola

Joseph Akinrinola is a Pastor, Sunday school management coach, author, blogger, and a motivational speaker.

Joseph created this blog to help young Christians establish their
feet in Christ, and to provide Biblical time-tested answers to life’s
questions about relationship, christian living and personal development.

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