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God’s Lost And Found Department #4
The Lost Sibling
Intro: This morning we will conclude our time in God’s Lost and Found Department. We have listened in as the Lord Jesus spoke of a shepherd seeking one lost sheep. We have heard of a woman who was moved to search for one lost coin. We have seen a father looking for and receiving home again one lost son. This whole chapter has been about the restoration of lost things. We have learned, I hope, that God places great value on each individual’s soul. Friends, He wants to see you saved. We saw the shepherd seeking 1 sheep out of 100, or 1%. We saw the woman seeking 1 coin out of 10, or 10%. We saw the father longing for 1 son out of 2, or 50%. Today, we will see the same father go to another son 1 on 1, or 100%. The lesson here is clear! God cares about each individual and He wants all to be saved, 2 Pet. 3:9.
Very often, when the illustrations in this chapter are preached, you hear about the sheep, the silver and the son, but it is a rare day when you hear anything about the elder brother, the sibling. In fact, I have never heard a sermon on the elder brother, but I have preached on him a few times. Why is that? I think we avoid this story because it hits too close to home! (Ill. Some preachers were discussing the Bible one day when the subject of the elder brother and his identity came up. They were trying to figure out who he was. One older preacher spoke up and said, “I know who he is. In fact, I saw him just yesterday.” The other ministers, eager to hear his response asked, “Who is he?” The wise old preacher said simply, “He is me!”)
The Lord Jesus is still talking about lost things. He is still dealing with the attitude of the Scribes and Pharisees toward lost sinners, v. 1-2. This elder brother pictures one who is involved in the things of God, but who, sadly, has no real relationship with the father. He might be in the father’s house, but he is still lost. He is still in the “far country” in his heart!
As we study this passage today, I want you to listen very carefully because this message is designed to speak to two classes of people. First, the primary message is to those who are lost in sin and need to be saved. You might be religious, you might be a church member, you might be a good, moral person, but you have never been saved. God has a word for you today. Second, this message has a word for people who are saved, but who have the same spirit an attitude as the elder brother. That is, people who are upset that God is blessing. People who do not like it when the prodigal sons come home. People who refuse to rejoice over what God is doing because it isn’t being done their way. The fact is, we all have a littler bit of the elder brother in us from time to time.
Today, we are going to consider the illustration of The Lost Sibling. It may be that the Lord will use this message to pinpoint a problem area in your life. If He does, please obey His voice and deal with whatever issues He exposes. It may be that the Lord will show you that you are lost today. If He does, then I challenge you to come to Him for salvation today. For the next few minutes, lets turn our hearts heavenward and allow the Lord to speak to each of us as we consider The Lost Sibling.
I. V. 25a THE POSITION HE HELD IN THE FAMILY
A. In The Position Of Privilege - He is the elder brother. As such, he is entitled to two-thirds of His father’s possessions, Deut. 21:17. Since his younger brother has already received his part of the inheritance, v. 12, everything belongs to this man. When his father dies, not only will he receive his father’s possessions, he will also become the head of the family. Much has been given to this young man already and more is on the way. He has been blessed indeed!
B. In The Position Of Productivity - When we first meet this man, he is “in the fields”. That is, he is busy doing his father’s business. While his younger brother has been off in the far country living it up, this young man has stayed home and he has kept up the family business. He has been working for the father.
(Note: At this point, in the story we do not know that there is a problem in the life of this young man. From every outward appearance, he is in good fellowship with his father and all is well. But, remember that he is a picture of the Pharisees, scribe and religious elite to whom Jesus is speaking. These were people who were also in a place of privilege. After all, they had been given the Law and the revelation of the coming of Messiah. They had been given the truth, and from all outward appearances, they were walking in that truth! The Pharisees and the scribes looked good to men, but there was a problem within their hearts! The problem was this: they were lost and undone in sin and the Lord knew it!)
(Note: The same thing might be true of some in this very service! You are a good moral person. You come to church. You don’t cuss, drink, steal or cheat. You have been through the baptistry and are a church member. From all outward appearances, you are as good as anybody around you. But, just as Jesus could look into the heart of the Pharisee and see his lost condition, He can look within your heart and see that you are lost too. You see, you can fool all of us, but you cannot fool Him, 1 Sam. 16:7. You might be good, moral and active in your church and still be lost, Matt. 7:21-23. You can’t even trust what you “feel in your heart” about this matter, Jer. 17:9-10! Just for the record, I am not trying to make anyone doubt their salvation. I am merely trying to point out the truth that religion does not equal salvation. Being close to the things of God does not equal being saved by the grace of God. Being in a church does not make you a Christian anymore than sleeping in a garage makes you a car, neither does climbing a tree make you a squirrel. You must not depend on who you are or what you have done for your salvation. You must be born again, John 3:3, 7. Salvation is by grace through faith, Eph. 2:8-9. Are you saved?)
II. V. 25b-30 THE PROBLEM HE HAD WITH THE FESTIVITIES
(Ill. The context. Here is where things start to get a little too close for comfort for most of us. But, as painful as it may be, these truths will help us grow in the Lord and to become more like Him!)
A. He Had A Problem With His Motives - When this boy hears why there is a celebration, he is angry and refuses to go in to the party. His father comes out and gently pleads with him to come in with the others. His reply to his father is very telling of this boy’s heart. In verse 29, he reminds the father of his faithful service and complains that he has never been given a feast for what he has done. The bottom line here is this:
1. This man did not care that his lost brother had come home.
2. This man did not care about that which pleased the father.
3. This man did not care about the glory of the father, he wanted the glory for what he had been doing.
4. This man did not even care about the father, he did what he did for what he could get out of it.
5. This man even saw his service to the father as “slavery”, v. 29. He didn’t serve his father out of love for the father, but out of a desire to help himself.
(Note: Sadly, this same mentality is in the hearts of many within the church today. They cannot rejoice when sinners are saved, because they feel threatened, Ill. Jonah - Jonah 4. They cannot get excited when the church grows, because they see their hold on power slipping away. They do not care about God’s will being done in the church, if it runs counter to their personal agenda. They want the accolades, the pats on the backs and the glory. Their service in the church is not about God, it is about them! When you see this kind of attitude in a life, either you have a lost person masquerading as a saved person, or you have someone who is out of God’s will! Friend, what drives your service in the church today? What are your motives for what you do? Paul tells us there is but one valid motive, 1 Cor. 10:31.)
B. He Had A Problem With His Mentality - When you listen to this boy talk to the father, you quickly realize that he is proud, disrespectful, arrogant, defensive and angry. There is obviously something wrong with the way he is looking at what is happening here. He should be overjoyed that his brother has returned safely from the far country. He should be rejoicing that the father has received a lost son home again. But all he can do is whine, pout and complain.
Do you want to know what his real problem is? He tells us in verse 30. Look at what he says, who told him this boy had spent his money on harlots? He hasn’t even talked to the boy or to the father. Do you know what’s wrong with him? He’s jealous! He may be at home in his body, but he is in the far country in his heart! He is as far away from the father as was the other son when he went away. All he wants to do is live it up like the other boy did! But, He can’t, so he gets mad that one who did the very things he wants to do in his heart has been received by the father. (Ill. This is what was wrong with the Pharisees. They kept the letter of the Law outwardly, but in their hearts, they longed for sin!)
(Note: Friend, you don’t have to be a drunk to be out of God’s will! You don’t have to be an adulterer to be in the far country spiritually. You can serve your church, sing in the choir, preach the Word, or anything else you want to name and still be out of God’s will! You can sit here this morning mad and resentful over things that may have taken place here at church, friend, that hinders your walk with God! You can look pious and righteous today, but have a heart full of malice because of what someone said or did to you. Friend, that puts you in the far country. You may look as good as anyone this morning, but you can have a heart that is filled with lust, evil thoughts, desires for sin, etc. Do you see that I am saying? You can pretend to be anything you wish outwardly, but it is the condition of the heart that matters, Matt. 15:18-19. When you get saved, the Lord gives you a new heart, Eze. 36:26. That gives you the ability to live a new life. But, it is possible for people with new hearts to full of sin and evil. What is the solution? 1 John 1:9!)
C. He Had A Problem With His Methods - (Ill. It was considered to utmost in disrespect for a young man to argue with his father. But this boy did it in front of the servants and the guests. He brought as much or maybe more disgrace upon the father as the other son, because he did what he did in public.) Notice how this young man handled his anger. He attacked, he criticized and he blamed! This lets you know that his heart is not right! Why? Because your outward attitudes and actions are a mirror into your heart. Listen to what Paul says about this is Gal. 5:19-23. What does your heart say about you? You watch people who can only attack others, criticize them and place blame on everyone but themselves. That kind of person has real spiritual issues!
(Note: I told you, this hits kind of close to home!)
III. V. 28, 31-32 THE PETITION HE HEARD FROM THE FATHER
A. It Was A Petition Of Pleading - The father went out and “entreated” this boy to come in to the feast. The word “entreat” means “to come alongside of another to offer aid and comfort, to beg, to console, to comfort, to encourage.” It is the same word that is translated “Comforter” in John 16:13 and is one of the names of the Holy Spirit. This father loved him. Notice that this son won’t even call him father, but the father calls him “son”. This father went to this boy in the right spirit, but he was rejected!
(Note: Whether you are saved or lost today, I believe the Heavenly Father is speaking to your heart. I believe He is touching areas that nee to be fixed. Friend, it may not feel good at the time, but it sure is a blessing for the Lord to speak to you heart and call you to come in. If He is calling, why not just heed His voice?)
B. It Was A Petition Of Promise - The father praised him for his efforts, and reminded him that everything was already his! In effect, this father was saying, “I value you and our relationship together more than I value your works.” This boy could have enjoyed fellowship with the father anytime he wanted, but apparently, he was too wrapped up within his own legalism and narrow-mindedness to realize it. This boy wanted what the father had, but he did not want the father, and he did not want anyone else to have the father either. What a tragedy!
(Note: The same thing is true in many hearts today! People want the church. They want to feel better about themselves. They want a fire insurance policy, but they do not want an intimate relationship with the Father. Often, they resent those who do want that closeness. I just want to remind you this morning, you are as close to the Lord as you want to be! You have as much fellowship with Him as you want to have. You can have more, if you want it. Do you?)
C. It Was A Petition Of Priorities - The father tells this boy that is was “meet” that they should have this celebration. The word “meet” means “necessary”. To the father, the return of the lost son was a cause for celebration. A lost one had been found. One considered dead was now alive again. And, perhaps most importantly, a father’s love and faith had been vindicated and the family name restored. There was much cause for rejoicing. The father wants this boy to learn the truth that everything isn’t about him and about him getting his own way. There are bigger issues at stake and they should take priority!
(Note: So it is in the things of God. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more important than the glory of God. And, instead of getting upset when things don’t go our way, we should learn to thank the Lord for what He is doing! You see, instead of pouting, this boy could have been partying! Look at this chapter, everyone is happy but this boy. The shepherd is happy. The woman is happy. The father is happy. The lost son is happy. The servants are happy. The only person in misery is this elder brother. And, he is miserable because he refuses to be happy. The feast is there, all he has to do is go in and enjoy himself! But, he is standing out there pouting, because he didn’t get his way and because he is not the center of attention! What a shame! Of course, there are some here to day in those same shoes! You don’t have to stay there friend! The Father is still calling you to come home, if you will!)
Conc: Have you ever noticed that this is an open-ended story? Did the elder brother ever come into the feast? We don’t know! I think Jesus left it this way for a reason. And here is that reason: Every individual must write his or her own ending to this story!
If you are lost today, will you stay out, or will you come in? If you are in, but things aren’t right, will you stay outside and pout, or will you get in on what the Lord is doing? The choice is yours today, what will you do? You say, “I won’t choose!” You just did! Making no choice is making a “no” choice! But, I pray you won’t do that today. If the Lord has spoken to your heart about salvation or about your personal walk with Him, please come today while He is calling you to come in. After all, the whole point of this extended parable has been to show the importance of the human soul to God and to point lost people to a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He loves you friend, won’t you come in to Him?