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The Other Prodigal

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
October 25, 2023 12:00 am

The Other Prodigal

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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October 25, 2023 12:00 am

Watch, listen or read the full-length version of this message: https://wfth.me/475JHb3. The Parable of the Prodigal Son is one of the most famous parables Jesus told during His earthly ministry. But whenever someone refers to it, they do it in that way: "Prodigal Son." Singular. But there are two prodigals in Luke's account in chapter 15. The first prodigal came home to his father, expecting rejection but experiencing grace. The other prodigal never left home, expecting recognition but experiencing bitterness. We've studied the lost son, now let’s learn from the son who never left.

 

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Now at this point in the parable, I think if we were God we could easily say I'm getting rid of these two guys, I'm going to start all over.

It's intended though to reveal the immeasurable grace of God and the glory of the Father in his invitation of salvation. And so watch the Father respond amazingly in verse 31. And he said to him, Son, not the typical word we ask, it's appeared seven times already in these parables. He changes it now.

Technon, Son, my dear Son! Welcome to Wisdom For The Heart. Today, Stephen Davey concludes his series of messages on the parable of the prodigal son. It's one of the most famous parables Jesus told during his earthly ministry. But whenever someone refers to it, they usually refer to the prodigal son, singular.

Stephen has a different view. You see, there are two prodigals in the story. The first prodigal came home to his father, expecting rejection but experiencing grace. The other prodigal never left home, expecting recognition but experiencing bitterness.

This message is called the other prodigal. Well, there's a meal taking place. It's a banquet of sorts in someone's home. We're not told where. It's a typical Middle Eastern meal that lasts a long time.

No one's in a hurry. Food is mingled with laughter and conversation. The trouble is Jesus is having laughter and long conversations with people who would not be allowed in the synagogue.

He's effectively hosting a banquet for tax collectors. In the Jewish world, the scum of the earth, traitors. He's sitting next to people that Luke will describe simply as sinners.

As if to say, here's the umbrella term. They all fit under it. They're all sinners.

Every variety imaginable. Now, the religious leaders have sent their own little collection to monitor the assembly, to take roll. And sure enough, they refuse to enjoy any of it. Luke tells us in chapter 15, if you're new to us, this Lord's Day, that's where we're going to be, Luke 15. That all they could do in verse 2 is grumble. That original word shows up often in the Old Testament Greek translation of the Israelites who grumbled. Grumble.

All they're doing here is grumbling. It is in response to their grumbling that Jesus stops and he starts telling a story, a parable. Food is forgotten.

Conversations end. Jesus, the master teacher, begins to tell a series of parables. A parable about a lost sheep.

It's destined to die if it isn't for a loving, caring shepherd who searches diligently for it. A parable about a lost coin, that apart from the care and the searching of a woman, it is without any value, lost in the crevices of a dirty floor. Now after every rescue, there's a celebration and Jesus says, this is a picture of heaven where heaven is celebrating when anyone who is lost is found. And then he begins the third in the series, the third parable about a man who had two sons. The young son will represent all of these tax collectors, all of these sinners, prodigals who have nothing to do with God the Father, and they're open about it. The older son will represent these religious leaders who have followed all the rules outwardly, but who have nothing to do with God the Father inwardly. So this man has two sons.

That's how the Lord began. Both sons, I remind you, were lost. One son is lost in a far country. The other son is lost while staying at home. One son is outwardly dirty, sitting in a pigsty.

The other son is inwardly dirty, sitting in his favorite seat in the synagogue. Both sons defy their father's wishes. Both sons break their father's heart. The father will have to leave the house to go after both of them.

Both sons need to be found. You see, this is a parable of two prodigals. Now, in our last study, the younger son returned home. He plans to negotiate an apprenticeship as a hired craftsman, and all of that just sort of literally crumbles to the dust at the sight of his father's unbelievable humility and love.

The negotiation turns into reconciliation as the prodigal watches his father openly bear the shame and the ridicule of the village by racing to him to bring him safely home. Now, with that, the focus shifts to the older son, the other prodigal. Keep in mind that the heart of this older son is what started this series of parables.

This is the verdict Jesus is now reaching. This is where he's been leading his audience and we as we followed. Now, before the older brother makes an appearance, let me draw some observations from this early first century culture. There are some actions that the older brother should have taken with every indication he may not have completely. First, according to this culture, the older brother would have been responsible to go and search for the younger brother on behalf of his father.

It was his role to go and find, as it were, his little brother. He is to be, as the oldest son, the agent of reconciliation on his father's behalf. By the way, that principle is carried into the New Testament epistles where we are told by the Apostle Paul that we are the reconciling agent. We are the messenger. We're delivering the terms of peace with the father. And Paul will say it to the Corinthians as he encourages them to act as the agent of the father.

He would say it this way, we begged the world on behalf of God to be reconciled with Christ. The older brother should have found his younger brother and begged him on behalf of his father to reconcile. Now it's possible that the older brother did travel to where his brother was living. That's implied because he happened to know what his brother was doing with his money. But evidently, at least the implication is here, he left his brother and probably with the attitude of good riddance. Secondly, not only was the older brother responsible to go looking for his younger brother, it was his responsibility to protect his father's estate from any inappropriate claim on the inheritance. In other words, he should have stepped in early on and said to his younger brother, stop. What you're asking is shameful. It is humiliating to our father. We know what you're saying. You're saying, Dad, I wish you were dead.

You need to stop. He didn't do that. He remains silent.

In fact, it's worse than that. He went along with it. Back in verse 12, we're told that the father responded to the younger son by doing what? He divided his property between them. No protest, no demonstration of loyalty to his father. He didn't try to stop his brother's rather scandalous demand. He went along with it and he is benefiting from it. One author put it this way, that the younger brother's open rebellion allowed him to maintain a thin veneer of respectability.

People could pat him on the back. He was the brother who stayed home. You're the brother who's still working in your father's field. The Lord is going to reveal to us that it's possible for a prodigal heart to exist in the far country just as easy as it can exist in the father's field.

It can exist feeding swine in a pig pen, just like a prodigal heart can exist singing songs in a sanctuary like this one. There are two sons who need redeeming. Whenever you read these parables, especially this one, perhaps the Lord's most famous one, you tend to identify with the characters.

Maybe one more than the other. Frankly, I think every believer should see something of themselves in all three primary characters. To the prodigal, we should see ourselves as unworthy. Every believer ought to view themselves as sinners saved by grace. We should see ourselves in the father's actions. We ought to set our hearts to have this kind of humility and compassion toward others. How about the older brother, the Pharisees who kept the rules, checked all the boxes? Do we see ourselves in him coming to the conclusion that we deserve to be treated better by God than we're being treated? The Lord is obviously going to identify the older brother with the attitude of the Pharisees. They're unwilling to rejoice over sinners' redeem. Remember, this is how it all began at the beginning of the chapter. Here's the problem. Jesus is receiving sinners and eating a meal with them.

That ought to sound familiar with what's about to happen. The religious leaders don't like it. In fact, today, to this day, it's easier to grumble about all those sinners than to rejoice over sinners saved.

Well, what's your focus? All those wicked people out there? Or do we have a heart of compassion begging them to be reconciled to God, to see them saved? There's more here to this older brother's reaction, and so we're going to conclude our study in this parable. We're going to actually come to the end of chapter 15 today, and all the people said... Not so loud.

Hold your applause. Alright, four different characteristics of a prodigal heart. First, it's possible to resent what God does for someone else that he hasn't done for you. Now, verse 25. Now, his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing, and he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant, and he said to him, your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.

You can render that in peace. In other words, there's reconciliation here taking place. But he was angry and refused to go in. In this culture, it would have been the role of the older brother to stand at the front door and greet all those who had been invited to the house on his father's behalf.

Now, in this setting, the front door didn't open into the living room. It opened into the courtyard, and that's where the older son has arrived. Out there in the courtyard, there are people now milling around. There are guests arriving.

Music can be heard. They've got dancing around a stick, which would have been their circular dance, customary to their culture. They're all celebrating this great joy of the father in the son who's been reconciled, and he asks, what's going on? Oh, your brother's home. There's been a reconciliation.

Your father has ordered the celebration. He's brought in this calf to be slaughtered. The fattened calf has been barbecued. Whose calf was that? The older brother's. Music?

The phrase gives us our English word, symphony? Who's paying for that? The older brother. It was the older brother's inheritance now being used. And according to this culture, the father had the right to dispense what he wanted while he lived, even though he had already distributed the inheritance.

But every expenditure was deducted from the final value of the inheritance. That's the older brother's stuff. There's a bigger point of disagreement, though, here. His father is receiving a sinner and having a meal with him at my expense. The older brother grumbles, refuses to go in.

He's going to stay out there in the courtyard. He is now going to begin publicly shaming his father. Luke writes here in verse 28 that the older brother was angry. That word isn't just I'm a little upset. That word means to be infuriated. It refers to somebody being visibly enraged.

It can be used as a pot of water literally boiling over. This isn't going to be some little argument you might have in the back bedroom with your wife. You're back there to be quiet as you can so the kids don't hear, which is a good idea, by the way, because you're going to have disagreements. At least one or two. Or maybe you're like the man who said the secret to his wonderful marriage was that he would take a walk outside but there was a disagreement and then he added that he had mostly lived an outdoor life.

Might not be bad advice. Well, this disagreement isn't going to get handled in the back room. This is in the open.

This is in the courtyard. This is where everyone can see him shaming his father. You see, it's possible to resent the father when he does something for someone else that he hasn't done for you. When you lose touch with the father's heart, you lose the ability to rejoice with those who rejoice. Now here's the second characteristic at the heart of a rather respectable prodigal. It's possible to see sin in someone's life without recognizing it in your own life.

Go back to verse 28 again. It tells us that he was angry, boiling over and he refused to go in and his father came out and entreated him. That's a compassionate, gracious term. The tense tells us he kept entreating him.

You could translate it. He kept on pleading. The word actually carries the nuance of pleading for the sake of reconciliation. This is a wonderful picture, by the way, of the incarnation where the Lord now acts as the father.

He leaves his home to come to your home to invite you back to his home. For the second time, don't miss this, in the same day, the father is bearing the shame of one of his sons. He's demonstrating selfless love here remarkably as he attempts to reconcile with both of them.

At this point, the older son will have none of it. In fact, notice what he sort of spits out to his father. Look, by the way, that was very dishonorable.

Should have began with father, none of that. Look, these many years I have served you and I never disobeyed your command. You could render that I slaved you. He uses the word for slave. All these years I've been slaving for you, is what he said.

I've never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young good that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours, get that, not my brother, this son of yours who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you kill the fattened calf for him. At first glance, I've got to tell you, I'm actually on his side. I'm feeling kind of sorry for him.

How about you? I'm going to ruin that feeling in just a moment if I do my job well, but I'm on his side. His rebellious little brother gets roast beef, he doesn't even get goat meat. That just doesn't sound fair to me. Well, remember, the point of this is going to take us to the glory of grace in the father's heart, and grace is never about fairness. Never. At least we would hope so, right? Grace is always undeserved. If we got what we deserved, we would be in hell forever.

Everybody who gets grace doesn't deserve it. But to the Pharisee, oh, he's respectable. He was. He's dependable. He's industrious. He's moral. He's steady. He's obedient. By the way, the father never counters and says, oh, let me just lay out the list for you.

No. He never condemns the older brother for everything he's done right. He's appreciated that, but that's not his point. The point is grace is not a reward.

It is a gift. Third, it's possible to complain that God owes us something more in life while ignoring what we already have. At this point in the parable, I think if we were God, we could easily say, I'm getting rid of these two guys, I'm going to start all over.

It's intended, though, to reveal the immeasurable grace of God and the glory of the father in his invitation to this banquet feast of salvation. And so watch the father respond amazingly in verse 31. And he said to him, son, you are always with me.

All that is mine is yours. Son, not the typical word in the original language. It's appeared seven times already in these parables. He changes it now. Technon, son, my dear son.

This culture would expect him to pull out the club to disinherit him. Oh, my dear son. More than likely weeping as he says it.

You are always with me. All that is mine is yours, not just some fat calf, not just roast beef with a little music. Everything I have. This meal is for your little brother. This is really all he has.

He's starting over. But you're the heir. All that is mine is yours.

How can I possibly give you anything more? So we also forget that we are co-inheritors with Christ. Peter says we have no idea of the glory reserved for us.

Here's the final warning. Number four, it's possible to be unmoved by the restoration and reconciliation of someone's life to Christ. The father appeals for his son to understand. Verse 32, it is fitting to celebrate and be glad for this your brother was dead and is alive. He was lost and is found. Of course, the truth is the older brother cares more about himself than his father's happiness. He cares more about himself than his brother's restoration.

He remains unmoved. The father tries to explain. It's fitting. It's right. It's appropriate to celebrate. We need to celebrate.

Why? He was dead to us. He's now alive. He was lost. Now he's found.

Can we do anything other than throw a party? And the party, by the way, was for everyone. Now Jesus doesn't tell us what happens next. Do you notice? This parable is what you call a cliffhanger. It's unfinished.

The ending is missing. Sort of like the book of Jonah. It's what he did after he was reproved. But Jesus has done this on purpose. See, at this point, the Lord would be looking at the Pharisees and the scribes. They're grumbling.

It started this series of parables. Jesus has just identified their unmoving, their uncaring hearts with this older prodigal who will not rejoice at the reconciliation of sinners seated at the table. But now what? Now what are they going to do? What's the ending that they're going to write into their own lives? Are they going to stay out there in the courtyard or go in? What are they going to do? What are you going to do? What's your response to the grace of God and the love of the Father? Jesus makes it clear that we are heading those who believe toward a never-ending celebration of sinners saved. In the meantime, we need to resist the attitude of the older prodigal. We can adopt it. It's going to be a lifetime battle.

You know why? It's a lot easier to be a Pharisee than a prodigal. Let's ask the Father for more of his heart of grace.

Well, what's it going to look like? Well, let me just reverse very quickly these four characteristics. Let's word them this way. This will be our battle as believers. First, instead of resenting God, rejoice when God gives something to someone that he hasn't given to you.

Well, that'll take a lifetime. Secondly, instead of seeing sin in other people's lives, become more of an expert in recognizing sin in your own heart. Third, instead of identifying something you believe God owes you, thank him for what he has already given to you.

Finally, in light of our eternal future, that never-ending celebration, never get over the reconciliation and restoration of someone's life to Christ, including yours. That was Stephen Davey and a message called The Other Prodigal. With today's message, Stephen concludes a series looking at the parables Jesus told in Luke 15.

This series is called Lost and Found. If this is a resource you'd like to have in your library of discipleship materials, we'd be happy to make it available to you. You can give us a call at 866-48-BIBLE. That's 866-48-BIBLE or 866-482-4253. When we come back again, Stephen will begin a series from the Old Testament book of Ezra. Be sure and join us for that right here on Wisdom for the Heart. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-25 00:22:57 / 2023-10-25 00:31:52 / 9

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