The Prodigal Brother – Luke 15:11–32

In the late 1800’s there were two sons in the Taylor family in England.

The older one set out to make a name for the family and turned his attention toward Parliament and politics.

But Hudson Taylor, the younger brother, gave his life to Christ; so he turned his face toward China and obscurity.

Hudson Taylor is known today and honored on every continent as one of the most faithful missionaries that ever lived and was the founder of the China Inland Mission.

But according to an old publication called the Sunday School Times when you look in the encyclopedia to see what the other son has done, you find these words, “The brother of Hudson Taylor.”

Men may have their names inscribed on marble monuments for accomplishments or fame; someday these monuments will fall in fragments.

It says in 1 John 2:17 – “But he that doeth the will of God abideth forever”

We are reading a story that Jesus told about two brothers.

He has gathered around him outcasts and sinners because they saw their need and looked to Jesus for the answer.

Look @ Luke 15:1–2 “Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.”

On the fringe were these Pharisees listening to these stories as they criticized Jesus for keeping such bad company.

In another article, we looked at the story of the Prodigal Son.

We learned that at as long as he was focused on his Possessions and his Pleasures that he was going the wrong direction.

But once he focused on the true Provision he realized that his father back home had always provided and he began the journey to restoration.

That journey brought restoration and reconciliation between him and his father.

It was a happy scene that Jesus painted as He told the story.

The father running to meet the prodigal son with open arms of acceptance and forgiveness.

There was joy over the returning son as the family was brought back together.

Now, we are going to learn from the Man who Missed out on that Blessing. The elder brother who returned from the field and found out what happened. He refused to join the celebration and because of that, he missed out on it.

What was it that caused the elder brother to miss the great joy of this special occasion?

Let’s dig in and see what we can find…

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  1. With the Prodigal Brother, we find – The Sin of a Bad Attitude 

Luke 15:28 “And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.”

What was his problem? He had everything he needed or even wanted.

He was blessed was the heir of a great estate and had a bright future but he still had a bad attitude.

Today, one of the big indicators of our need, is our negativism, our complaining, and our griping

How different we are today from those early believers.

  • Paul could praise God in prison and we often pout in our prosperity.
  • Paul gloried in his infirmities and we often grumble in our affluence

Never before have Christians had so much and appreciated it so little.

What was wrong with this older brother? Well to start with he had a bad attitude.

Next, we also see…

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2. With the Prodigal Brother, we find – The Sin of an Offended Spirit

Luke 15:29–30 “And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.”

The problem here was that the prodigal brother was offended when he had no right to be.

His envy is clear as he says to his father….“When this thy son was come…

He was offended by the celebration and at the thought of his brother having any attention.

He was offended that his sinful brother would come back and that his Dad was happy about it.

Think for a moment about what his offended spirit produced:

  • It made him grumble and gripe….when it was time to celebrate.
  • It made him exaggerate…. his own righteousness…and exposed his own sinful pride.
  • It made him feel sorry for himself…as if he deserved more than what he already had.
  • It made him forget ….all the blessings that he already had.

Look @ Luke 15:31 “And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.”

Most of you have heard this story preached on before and aren’t hearing anything new this morning. However, we need to be reminded that taking offense is an indication that you are distant from the Lord.

The Bible tells us in – Psalm 119:165 “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”

So this older brother lost out on the joy of that great celebration, because of the Sin of a Bad Attitude, and an Offended Spirit!

We see one more reason…in vs. 30

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3. With the Prodigal Brother, we find – The Sin of a Compassionless Heart

Luke 15:30 “But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.”

Why was the prodigal’s older brother emotionally unmoved by his return? Why didn’t he welcome him home? Why wasn’t he glad to see him again?

Probably because he had been unmoved at his being away.

If this older son…had any kind of relationship…with his father…he would have known…that his father dearly missed his brother.

He had worked hard on the family farm but he was unlike his father. He didn’t care about his missing brother.

Compassion and Mercy are not small virtues. The virtues of Compassion and Mercy are Titanic virtues in the eyes of God.

In fact, that is the key point that Jesus was making in this story.

The Bible tells us in – 1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:”

It says in the Book of – Micah 6:8 “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

That is what the older brother lacked, compassion and mercy, for his sinful brother. All because he did not measure his own sin of pride and self-righteousness, as equally bad.

Final Thoughts

If you were to look back at the two previous stories Jesus told, you would see that they were a lesson about how the Pharisees should act when lost sinners were found.

However, in this story, Jesus showed how they did act. They should see themselves in the person of the elder brother, who had his good and bad points.

He was morally straight, a hard worker, and an obedient son. But, he was also proud and had no real relationship with the father either.

He was more willing to think of his brother’s sin, than of his repentance and restoration.