Prodigal Series Day 12: Older Son, A New Awareness

We will never find God unless He first seeks us, but we should remember that He can do so in very different ways. Sometimes, God jumps on us dramatically as He does with the younger son and we will have an acute sense of His love. Sometimes, He quietly and patiently tries to get us to come around to His way of thinking, as in the case of the older son.

How can we tell if He is working on us now? If we begin to sense our lostness and find ourselves wanting to escape it, we can recognize that such an inclination is not something we could have generated on our own. Such a process requires help, and if it’s happening it’s a good indication that the Holy Spirit is already at work. That’s a great sign! That tinge of conviction is the feeling I warned you about on Sunday, but we agreed to press into the convictions as opposed to ignore them.  Right?! 

Also, through the grace and mercy of God, there is a way out of allowing sin to rule over us.  It is through repentance.  If you missed that day, go back to Day 6 to see what we mean by repent.  Now, let’s look at repentance in light of the older brother.

When Pharisees sin they feel terrible and repent. You see, as pompous as they could be at times, they were first and foremost authorities on Jewish law and tradition.  As such, they may have even punished themselves (I don’t recommend that extreme).  When they finish being remorseful, however, they remain elder brothers. They didn’t quite nail down the idea of completely turning from old behaviors in favor of going toward God. They may have turned away from outward behaviors, but their hearts and minds remained unchanged.

Pride in his good deeds, rather than remorse over his bad deeds, was keeping the older son out of the party (i.e., salvation). The elder brother’s problem is his self-righteousness.  In this particular instance of sin, we must repent of why we do things right as well as what we do wrong. 

Did we take that volunteer role so we could look good? Did we share a story on social media because it elevated us, but not Him? Perhaps not, but if so, we must repent of the intentions behind our actions. If not, we risk staying an older brother. Pharisees repent of their sins, but Christians repent for the very roots of their self-righteousness as well. We must admit that we’ve put our ultimate hope and trust in things other than God.

Sit with this message for a little bit, if needed.  It’s OK. Perhaps this is the first time that you’ve seen yourself resembling the older brother.  Go to God with that, and allow Him to change you from the inside out. What do you need to repent of?  An outright sin or perhaps something more beneath the surface?

The hardest part of this teaching to digest is now past us.  Tomorrow we are going to focus on how the older brother figure relates to the character of Jesus, and you won’t want to miss it. 

Thank you so much for going on this worthwhile journey with me today. You are all in my prayers!


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Prodigal Series Day 11: Older Son, A Different Lostness

By now, we’ve well established that there are two different kinds of “lostness” playing out in this parable:  the outwardly visible variety and the more inward-facing variety. Also, remember that each brother corresponds to either the sinners or the Pharisees, so we also have another level of storytelling happening: Jesus is pointedly emphasizing out the weaknesses of each camp in his audience.

The older brother was spiritually lost (and, by association, the Pharisees).  It’s much more elusive than the undeniable sinful life of the younger brother.  Timothy Keller, pastor and author, dubs this as “Elder Brother Lostness”.  The latter brings as much misery to others and the offender as being lost in a distant country.

Here, then, is Jesus’ radical redefinition of what is wrong with us. Nearly everyone defines sin as breaking a list of spoken or unspoken rules. Jesus though, shows us that a man who has violated virtually nothing on the list of moral misbehaviors can be every bit as lost as the most offensively sinful person.


Because, in this light, sin is not just breaking the rules. It occurs when we elevate ourselves to a place that is only reserved for God: a place of judgement. It occurs when we believe we have “arrived” and totally get life, faith, and all the things (spoiler: we never will on this side of eternity). We may think we are incapable of sinning, or…at the very least, not as frequently and deeply as others. These are all symptoms of elder brother lostness.

Here’s a loving word of caution: elder brothers almost never even know they are lost.  In understanding how this spiritual lostness manifests, however, we will be equipped to better see it in ourselves.  If we don’t, we risk never being able to repent and change our prideful ways.

In this light, the younger brother has the advantage: there’s no denying he is lost. He can choose to go home.  Older brothers, though?  They haven’t a clue.  They will remain in their sinfulness, aloof and unawares, blind to their fatal condition.

In fact, the older brother (and Pharisees) would have taken complete offense to the very suggestion that he was rebelling against the father’s authority. No one had ever taught anything like this before the parables in Luke 15.

Remember, this parable is aimed at the Pharisees.  Jesus wanted to reveal to them who they were, as well as others who are ridden with pride, and urge them to change.

By the grace and provision of God, there is a way out of this type of sin as well, so all hope is not lost, even for those who suffer from elder brother lostness.  That will be our focus for tomorrow!

All my Love,


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Prodigal Series Day 10: Older Son, A Party

Last week we learned how appalling it was for the younger son to ask his father for his inheritance.  However, once the older brother hears of his brother’s return and subsequent festivities in his honor, it became his turn to disgrace his father.  The older brother was downright furious. 

He refuses to go into the party, which, more than likely, was the biggest shindig his father ever hosted.  By not going into the party, he is publicly declaring his disapproval. It would have been considered quite demeaning for the father to come out and plead with the older son as he did.  

In that culture, the proper way to greet a father might have been something like, “Dear Father…” However, the older brother does not bother with courteous pleasantries. He goes right to the heart of his frustations and addresses his father with a mere, “Look!”  We might envision someone waving their fists while yelling, “Look, you!…” while continuing with their tirade in today’s culture.  In a society where respect and deference to elders was all important, such behavior was truly ill advised and frowned upon.

When confronted by his father’s joy at the return of his younger brother, we see a powerful resentment come to the surface. We were told how obedient the older son was, so we can surmise that such disrespectful behavior was out of the norm. Suddenly, there becomes a glaringly visible proud, unkind, and selfish person. The anger we see here was a slow burn over many years.

Let’s flesh this out a bit, because its imperative that we avoid the same type of sin when possible. Essentially, the older brother exhibits the stifled feelings of someone who feels they never got what was due to them.  He was keeping tabs.   

The older brother is especially upset about the cost of the party.  It would appear as though the father spent more on the “sinful brother” than he ever did on the “obedient” one.  The latter claims he never even had the pleasure of a goat at a party, never mind a fattened calf like the former. The fattened calf is only a symbol, however, because as the choicest, most expensive meat at that time, the calf would have symbolized abundance, pulling out all the stops, etc. 

It was grace on top of grace.

Abundance and then some.

The father didn’t just accept the son back; he went above and beyond to knit him back into the fabric of their family and community. 

The older son compares himself to the sinful younger brother.  He supposes his role and blessing should be relative to others.  He thinks he deserves grace AND also that grace should be withheld from his younger brother.  For some reason, his brother’s happiness has a bearing on his own level of joy. 

As opposed to a both/and scenario, only a either/or scenario plays out in his mind with regard to who can receive blessings and grace. There isn’t room for both sons at the feast (or both type of people as the Pharisees would see it). One has to go, and no one puts big brother in the corner. The Bible calls this self-righteousness, and it needs to be avoided at all costs.

Have you ever compared yourself to someone else?  Maybe justify an action by saying, “At least as I’m not as bad as that Karen over there…” Be careful.  God sees all sin the same, and herein lies a blind spot for most of us: thinking too little of our sin can keep us from experiencing the fullness of the love of God in the same way that thinking too much of it can.

So, regardless of if we think we’ve sinned too much to come back to God (like the choice we spoke about last week) or we don’t really think our sin is that bad or even existent at all, the Bible unilaterally calls us to repentance.

Now that we have an awareness that our pride and self-righteousness can lead to sin, as it did with the older brother, we are going to examine that particular kind of lostness more tomorrow.  It’s one of the most important lessons in the entire New Testament!

All my Love,


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Prodigal Series Day 9: Older Son, A Surprise

While this parable is commonly known as “The Prodigal Son” (I even call it this throughout the series), I’d like us to start to think of it a bit differently.  You see, that name isn’t quite right. It’s misleading to single out only one of the sons as the sole focus of the story. Even Jesus doesn’t call it the parable of the prodigal son, but begins the story by saying, “There was a man who had two sons.” (Luke 15:11, emphasis mine)

In the younger brother character, Jesus depicts a variation of sin that anyone would recognize. He was openly disrespectful to his father and squandered his inheritance.  No one would venture to say, “He’s a totally upstanding human being.  Really solid guy.  Totally dependable. He’s welcome to date my daughter.” No.  People would agree in unison that the younger brother was living sinfully.  The listeners would have considered this person to be cut off from God. We revisit the younger son only to highlight a stark contrast to the older brother character.

The latter is seemingly loyal to his father. He has the self-discipline that is so desperately lacking in his younger brother.

So, here we have two sons: one “bad” by conventional standards, and one “good.” Nonetheless, both are alienated from their father.  How so? That’s exactly what we are going to unpack this week.   

Each brother represents a different way to be alienated from God and a different way to seek acceptance into the Kingdom.  The narrative is as much about the elder brother as the younger, and as much about the father as the sons….which is why I’ve decided to break these teachings up by character each week.  Moreover, what Jesus says about the older brother is one of the most important messages given to us in the Bible.

Remember last week how we said that Jesus was talking to the sinners and the Pharisees when he told this story?

As it turns out, this parable was actually meant for the Pharisees. Although both groups can certainly benefit from the message, it is directed to the Pharisees.  The sinners didn’t ask why Jesus was eating with them.  The Pharisees asked, and Jesus responded with the stories documented in Luke 15.  The three parables are in response to their attitude, which the Pharisees would steadfastly maintain was right with God.  We will see how this was not the case and how Jesus powerfully pleaded with them to change their hearts so they could enter the Kingdom.

Let’s revisit a parallel we learned last week. The sinners are synonymous with the younger brother. But, as we just mentioned, Jesus was talking to the sinners AND the Pharisees.

Two brothers.

Two audiences.

If the sinners were the younger brother, what does that make the older brother?

That’s right.  The older brother is synonymous with the Pharisees!  That means how he sinned and how he reacted, which we will observe more closely this week, albeit differently than his younger brother, were similar to how the Pharisees sinned and reacted. 

Make no mistake: just like the sinners realizing that the younger brother was really them imposed into the tale, the Pharisees would have also noticed.  The Pharisees would have also pieced together that they were the older brothers, and they would not have appreciated what Jesus had to say about them either.  A sinner being welcomed without restitution?! Nonsense!  A clearly obedient and righteous man not getting what he earned?!  Preposterous!

Jesus is saying that both the irreligious and the religious (sinners and Pharisees) are spiritually lost, but Jesus was also ushering in a new way to live.  One that offered eternal life to the repentant…One that offered a reason to press pause for anyone who thought they were above sin.

This parable of the two lost sons is a total gamechanger in every way. I’m here for it! How about you?

Same time, same place tomorrow? See you then…and bring a warm beverage of choice 😊

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Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home!

Here’s a playlist created just for this series! Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home.

Prodigal Series Day 8: Older Son, A Conviction

I’m excited to start another week of learning, reflecting and growing with you all!  If you are just jumping into the series now, we have been diving into the Prodigal Son.  Last week, we focused on the younger brother as well as some really important context.  This week, we are switching gears. We are going to examine the older brother figure and find out what he has to tell us about Jesus, the Kingdom of God and how to enter it.

While this story reveals the destructive self-centeredness of the younger brother, it also condemns the elder brother…which is something I never picked up on until recently, no matter how many times I heard this story.   

Here’s a gentle word of caution: hearing how the “obedient” older brother was also in the wrong may be convicting for some. It may sting. But that’s OK!  I lovingly urge you to press into that and not run from it.  Whenever we are convicted there is room for so much growth!

On the first day of this series I mentioned how a pastor once told me that nothing positive ever came from my mouth.  That hurt. A lot.  But do you know what?  Although the words stung, and the delivery wasn’t the best, this particular pastor was almost never wrong when it came to calling people out. There was always some truth to what he had to say. After the sting wore off I asked God to reveal what I could learn from that comment.  While it wasn’t true that nothing good ever came from my mouth, it turned out that there was definitely room for improvement.  I could certainly speak life over people more often.  My words could have more kingdom value. 

By pressing into that comment, which I believe was said in love and not animosity, I was able to go to God and ask Him to deliver me from my actions which contributed to such negative impressions.  I prayed that He would give me a new voice, a voice to tell others about Him.  That was about 8 years ago.  I’m so grateful I didn’t ignore the sting.  You will be, too, if you take your convictions to the Father in prayer.

OK, thanks for letting me touch on that for a minute.  I think we are better grounded to move on together. Agreed?!

This week we will pick up where we left off. 

The younger brother left, which was a huge insult. He asked for his inheritance which was insult over injury.  He was seeking a life outside of his father’s home. We learned that the distant country he travelled to is really synonymous with anywhere we are living where God is not our priority.  We learned that we always have a choice to return to Him. Our Father will always accept us, BUT we have to choose to return back to Him through repentance AND accept his forgiveness.  Anything else would be selling ourselves short and not letting God be God.  Verse 21gave us a biblical blueprint for repentance: we apologize to the one we offended and to God….and since God is the primary offendee, He’s the one who can primarily restore us. 

Jesus is redefining everything we thought we knew about connecting to God. He is redefining sin, what it me­­­ans to be lost, and what it means to be saved.

That’s last week in a nutshell!

We now have all we need to start exploring the older brother.  I promise, you’ve never thought of him like this before!

Looking forward to picking up from here with you tomorrow morning!


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Prodigal Series Day 7: Younger Son, As Jesus?

Our first week is already coming to an end! Can you believe it?!  Take some time to reflect on everything we’ve covered.  What’s something new you learned? Or perhaps a standing perception took on a new shape since we’ve started our time together.  That’s great! The Word of God is living so there’s always something else the Spirit can reveal from its verses. 

Speaking of revelation, let me share something with you that totally blew my mind.  Its one of those things that once you see it, you won’t be able to unsee it. 

Remember back to the beginning of the week.  I taught that parables tell us something about Jesus.  Well, this one is no different.  The last parallel we are going to talk about this week is about none other than Jesus Himself. Here it is:

Jesus became the prodigal son for our sake.  If I were delivering this as a sermon, I would probably reiterate that for emphasis. 

For our purposes, let’s just read over that line again: Jesus himself became the prodigal son for our sake. 

Here’s how:

  • Jesus left the House of his heavenly Father  
  • He went to a foreign, sinful country (although He never sinned)
  • He gave away all that he had
  • He returned back to the home of His father  

All of this Jesus did, not as a rebellious son, as we saw here with the younger brother, but as the obedient son, sent out to bring home the lost children of God.  

If you want to have your minds boggled, reflect on this: as Jesus is telling the parable, He is actually living out the story He is sharing! He is the younger son in all the ways just mentioned while He is teaching about it!

I pray that you are seeing that there is more to this story (and for all of scripture, for that matter) than what meets the eye.  Please join me again next week, starting tomorrow, when we take a closer look at the older brother. 

In the meantime, let’s close out this week in prayer.

Father God,

Thank you for each and every person reading this today today.  Thank you for meeting each and every one of us exactly where we are at.  I pray that each of us can get one step closer to you this week.  For those who are in a far country right now….I pray that thy choose you.  For those who have chosen you, I pray that they ask for forgiveness if they haven’t already, or for those who need to accept- may they accept you with open arms.  Thank you for your mercy and for all the distant countries you have already delivered us from.  Please keep everyone safe in the palm of your hand until we come together again. 

In Jesus’ Holy & Precious Name,


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Prodigal Series Day 6: Younger Son, A Better Plan

So, what’s the answer?  If we are stuck in a distant country, and we shouldn’t rely on our own understanding for either the situation or the way out, how do we break free?  How do we leave the distant country?  The answer is in repentance. 

Today, we are going to break this term, repentance, apart, bit by bit. The latter strikes me as a term that people throw around, but don’t necessarily grasp.  For example, picture this conversation:

“How do you turn back to God?”

“You repent”

“How do you repent?”

“You turn back to God.”

I don’t know about you, but this circular logic is unhelpful to me and my walk.  Today, friend, we are going to spend time with how to repent. We are going to break it down into three necessary, sequential steps.  Others may frame out repentance differently, and they probably aren’t wrong.  They may just be looking at the concept slightly differently. 

OK…three steps to repent…ready? 

Step 1

We acknowledge that we have the choice to turn toward God.  Consider this quote from John Wesley referencing Matthew 23:27:

The power of the Lord is present to heal them but they will not be healed they reject the council the merciful council of God against themselves and therefore they are without excuse because God would save them but they would not be saved.

John Wesley

God is there, ready to welcome us back and forgive us, whether we actually come back or not.  His presence is independent of our decision. The choice is ours, and acknowledging that reality is the first step toward repentance.

Step 2

Once we make the choice to disembark from our distant country, we stop where we are and turn toward God.  We do that by asking for forgiveness.  This second step is actually a 3-fold motion of stopping, doing an about face, and propelling toward.

Verse 21 is a blueprint for biblical repentance:

The son says, “Father I have sinned against heaven and before you.” 

Luke 15:21

He doesn’t justify his wrongdoing or blame the father for however the father acted to begin with which caused to him to want to leave.  The younger son simply owns his actions, but notice that he admits his sin was against his father AND against God.  True repentance involves a vertical admission of guilt to God and a horizontal admission to those affected.  

Once we acknowledge we have a choice and then we actually choose to stop, about face, and go toward God, there’s one more step.  This is the one that I personally think gets overlooked most often, and its sometimes not included in repentance discussions at all.  Ready for it? 

Step 3

We have to accept the forgiveness that God so freely gives.  If the other two steps don’t trip us up, this one definitely can. For some reason, we can struggle with accepting the free grace and forgiveness that our Lord lovingly offers the repentant sinner.  Perhaps we think we are not worthy.  Perhaps we think we need to be more “holy” before we can accept the gift.  Perhaps…fill in your own blank here…

Friends, we will never be made “holy” on our own.  We NEED the help of the Holy Spirit, and we actively invite Him into our lives every time we ask for forgiveness. The Spirit is who will help make us more holy than we were in the far country, in our sin.

Receiving forgiveness requires a total willingness to let God be God and do all the healing, restoring, and renewing.

Remember the example from the younger son we spoke about yesterday? Nothing he could have come up with could have been as sufficient as what His father had in mind. Try as he might on his own, all his self-concocted plans were ill equipped to foster the perfect freedom His father’s plan intrinsically created margin for. As long as we want to do even a part of our problem solving on our own, we end up with limiting and partial solutions, such as becoming a hired servant.

Sometimes it can be hard to fathom how God embraces all sinners when they repent.  How can that be?  What if I have that one sin that is just too great for Him? What if I turned away from Him for too long? What if… (none of these are possible btw) 

Here’s the deal: to God, all of our sin is the same.  It’s sin.  Different sins can carry differing consequences, but in terms of severity of the actual sin, it makes no difference to our God when we repent.  His free grace more than sufficiently covers ALL sin! 

Let us please understand this truth: we can never sin so much that God won’t accept us. Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Jesus.  Because God is the primary party offended by our sin, he is also the sole authority to restore and forgive us, which he will do every time. It’s important for us to realize that the depth of our sin can never be greater than the love of Jesus.

These are hard concepts to understand, but here are two visuals which have helped me.

First, think about a city’s skyline. From a typical vantage point, perhaps on a bridge, we would observe structures of various heights scattered across the skyline. But what about from above? Looking down, one would just see the tops of buildings, with none visibly taller or shorter than the rest. We typically see our sins as the varied skyscrapers, monuments, and buildings noticeable on the silhouetted version of a skyline. But, alas, our our heavenly Father does not. He has a different perspective more akin to the “from above view” that is infinitely more indiscriminate.

Secondly, imagine a beach with three differently sized holes.  Perhaps there’s some of those tiny holes from the bubbles popping when the tide rolls back.  Then, perhaps there’s a child digging by the shore.  A little further down the coast are some teens digging a hole large enough to bury a friend in.  What happens when the tide comes in?  All those holes get filled back in, don’t they?  The ocean completely covers all the holes, regardless of the size they were before the tide came.  And so it is with our God and our sins.

These visuals are by no means perfect, but I do hope they help you to conceptualize some of these ideas related to sin and forgiveness if that is something you struggled with before. Of course, we can always turn to the Bible for the absolute Truth on such matters as well!

Tomorrow we will wrap up our discussion of the younger brother by pointing out one more incredibly important parallel. It’s something that I never picked up on before until I really started studying the story more intently.  It just might blow you away!

Until then,


Did you know I created a worship playlist just for this series!

Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home!

Here’s a playlist created just for this series! Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home.

Prodigal Series Day 5: Younger Son, A Plan Flawed

Let’s take a minute and think about a time when we were in a distant country (or a time clearly led by sin and ignoring God, for anyone who may have not read the earlier days in this series yet).  Maybe you are there now. If so, I’ve already said a prayer for your deliverance from that space.

When we are in a distant country, we may try to get out of the mess we are in on our own.  Whether its pride, embarrassment, doubt, or a plethora of other rationales that the enemy convinces us are true, we don’t get help.  We don’t seek Him.  We know something needs to change, but we ignore or handle it on our own. 

Here’s the thing: we will only get in our own way if we try to fix things ourselves, solely on our own accord.  Our very best solution will always be a partial solution at best. The solution will be flawed. I’m speaking from a few decades of misguided experiences here.

Let’s look at the parable, and see what I mean.

After failed attempts at living well in the distant country, by verse 17, the younger son knows he messed up and wants to go back home.  He knows he is technically still a son biologically, but he also thinks he lost his status as member of the family. 

Remember how egregious he was in asking for the inheritance and leaving home?  Here’s where that comes into play again.  Back then, rabbis taught that if one violated their family so severely as this son had, an apology would be insufficient to make amends.  Restitution would need to be paid. 

The son would have known this teaching which is why some scholars speculate the son planned to come back as a hired servant: he knew he would have to pay restitution. Being a hired servant would afford him the opportunity to do so.  Remember, he had no money left of his own.

The son’s own plans went something like this: “I know I don’t have the right to come back to the family but if they apprentice me to one of their hired men, I can learn a trade, earn an income, and begin to pay off my debt.”

Since we’ve already acknowledged the father in this parable equates to our Heavenly Father, this is like saying, “I couldn’t make it on my own. God is the only resource left to me. I will go to God and ask for forgiveness in the hope He lets me survive in proximity to Him, but under the pretense of forced labor.”

That doesn’t sound very enticing, does it? Nor does it portray the actual child/Heavenly Father relationship as it really exists upon repentance. Instead, by this perspective, our God remains a harsh, judgmental God. Submission to this God does not create true inner freedom, but breeds bitterness and resentment.

You see, the younger son had partial answer and an incorrect solution.  We don’t need to pay off debts.  Jesus did that on the cross.  As we will see tomorrow, the younger son didn’t need to pay off his debts either.  His carefully laid out, well-intentioned plan did not even compare to what his father had in mind. 

His own plan was incomplete, but his father’s was anything but. 

See you tomorrow!


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Prodigal Series Day 4: Younger Son, An Inheritance

Perhaps, thus far, the series has been a review of what you already know.  Perhaps not.  Either way, I think you are really going to appreciate the added context brought to you in today’s teaching. 

Let’s spend some time with this verse:

The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

Luke 15:12

The younger son asked his father for his inheritance.  Let that sink in. He. Asked. His. Father. For. His. Inheritance. 

I think so often we read that line, take it for granted, and then continue with the story.  We’re not doing that today.  There’s too much in this sentence that we need to grab ahold of.

Times haven’t changed so much between when Luke wrote this and today, in that people traditionally still have to die before their loved ones receive an inheritance.  By asking for his inheritance, the younger son is essentially wishing his father was dead.  He wanted what the father had to offer, but not his father himself.

Do you think we sometimes do that with our Heavenly Father?  We want what He has to offer, but not Him. The younger son wanted an inheritance that was meant to be his, but before he was meant to have it. How often do we want what we want now, but before God is ready to give it to us?

The inheritance and EVERYTHING that father had to offer would have been the son’s anyway, but only after he spent a lifetime of fellowship in the family.

To add insult to injury, the younger brother wasn’t just wishing his father dead, but he was also asking his father to rip his life apart.  Here’s why…

Although the verse says that the father divided his property, that doesn’t necessarily mean evenly. You see, in those days the oldest would receive double of what the other children received. In this case, that means that the older son would get 2/3s, and the younger would get 1/3. Regardless of which portion which son got, the effect on the father would have been the same.  The father’s assets would have primarily been in real estate, crops and animals.  Its not like the father could transfer a third of his net worth via a singular, hassle-free Venmo transaction. It’s not like he had assets in the bank at all.

So what does this father have to do to pass along the inheritance? 

He needs to liquidate his assets. 

He needs to sell off his livelihood. 

He needs to rip his life apart…all to give away the lesser portion of the inheritance.

Do we know of anyone else who was willing to give it all for His heirs? We spend much more time looking at the father in week three, but his resemblance to our Heavenly Father cannot be denied. Nonetheless, we mention how dire of a situation the parable’s inheritance debacle is so we can more fully appreciate the depraved nature of the son.

Luckily, by the grace of God, nobody, including the younger son, needs to remain in that depraved and sinful state. We don’t need to stay in our distant country of choice.  We have options.  Tomorrow, let’s start to look at those and see which path may be better than the rest.



Did you know I created a worship playlist just for this series!

Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home!

Here’s a playlist created just for this series! Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home.

Prodigal Series Day 3: Younger Son, A distant country

Ready to start reading between the lines and see what stands for what? Here’s a link to the parable for easy access.

Remember how Jesus was talking to two groups of people?  Who was he talking to?  He was addressing the Pharisees while he was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, remember?  This means they both heard what he had to say. Both audiences would have heard about both sons: the younger and the older. 

Don’t miss this next point…  

The younger brother represents the sinners and tax collectors at the table.  They disregarded acceptable norms of society and lived wildly, just like the younger son. Therefore, everything Jesus has to say about the openly sinful person (the younger brother type), they would have been able to internalize. They would have recognized that Jesus was not only talking to them…he was talking about them.

One analogy down, one more to go for today, but many more to come over the next 3 weeks.

Leaving home is more than just exploring the world. 

When Luke writes that the younger son left for a distant country (or far country, depending on the translation), he indicates much more than the desire of a young man to see more of the world. In our culture, we may think of an empty nester in our circle of friends. Perhaps they have a child who just flew across the country to see what else was in store for them beyond their hometown. However, here, Jesus is not just talking about some natural progression in the parent-child relationship whereby some apron strings just need to be snipped.

Instead, Jesus is depicting a drastic cutting loose from multi-generational values and traditions. The younger brother’s actions are not just disrespectful; they are downright betraying.

The son seemingly believed that life in the far country was better than life in his father’s house. The far country which he sought after and abided in for a period of time is representative of abiding in sin.  Let’s understand the metaphor Jesus is using here: the far country isn’t just physical.  The distant country refers to any place where we do not have God as our priority.

Leaving home, then, is much more than a singular, temporal event linked to a tangible, alternative location. Leaving home is living as though we do not have a home yet and must look far and wide to find one.

The sinners listening were considered to be in their own distant countries.

When we pursue sin, it’s because we believe the enemy’s fallacy that disobeying God will be good for us. We must be on guard. Not all excursions to distant countries are non-stop flights with pre-selected destinations. No, not at all. It’s quite easy for innocent distractions to start dominating our lives and pull us into the distant country, one little layover at a time.

How do we know when we’ve arrived in a distant country?

Anger, resentment, jealousy, desire for revenge, lust, greed, and rivalries are obvious signs that we have left home.

My church’s partnership class puts it this way:

People were created to have fellowship with God. However, because of our own stubborn self-will, we chose to go our own way, and fellowship with God was broken. This self-will, characterized by an attitude of active rebellion or passive indifference, is evidence of what the Bible calls sin.

Wallenpaupack Church, Partnership Class

The further we run away from the place where God dwells, the less we are able to hear the voice that calls us the beloved. The less we hear that voice, all the more magnified does the enemy’s voice become.

Now, we have a clearer understanding of what is being framed out in this narrative: Jesus is equating the sinners with the younger brother. He goes even further to equate the latter’s distant country with the sinner’s own reality of being distant from their heavenly Father; from their true home.

Tomorrow were are going to explore exactly why the younger son’s actions were so egregious.  To do so, we are going to focus on a part of the story which if often overlooked- or at least not paid as much attention as its due. Excited to review it with you!

See you then!


Accompanying Playlist

Did you know I created a worship playlist just for this series?!

Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home!

Previous posts from the Prodigal Series

Miss one? I got you covered! All teachings from this series are found here.