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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“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.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”—Luke 15:25–32 (ESV)
Things aren’t always as they seem. You see, even though there was an external appearance of closeness between the father and his older son, there was major distance between them. This was shown in his reaction to his brother’s return and his father’s reaction—“he was angry and refused to go in” (Luke 25:28 ESV). THIS is what Jesus was addressing with the Pharisees.
In the same way that these Pharisees were upset about Jesus’ compassion for sinners, the older brother was upset about the father’s heart towards his younger brother. The older brother thought that, because of his “good” behavior, he had right standing before the father, that he deserved it, that the father owed him. Like his brother, he simply wanted the blessings of his father apart from a real relationship, but sought it in a different way. Even though he didn’t realize it, he was just as lost as the younger brother.
Anytime we suffer from such a disconnection between our hearts and God’s heart, it will keep us from fulfilling the purpose God created us for. In fact, we will never fulfill our purpose unless we’re on the same page as God.
What the older brother should have done was turn to his dad from the beginning and say, “I’m going to go to the far country, and I’ll bring back my brother safe, at whatever cost . . . even if it costs me my own life.” That’s what a true older brother does, that’s what this brother should have done, that’s what the Pharisees should have done, and that’s what we must do!
And this is what you and I have in the person of Jesus. He came after us. He came to earth from heaven, to die a death He didn’t deserve. He spared no expense in doing what it took to bring us safely back . . .
When we understand this, when we understand the beauty and love of Jesus, and are gripped by His grace, that’s when we can begin to draw near to the heart of God. That’s when we begin to love people, to have compassion and grace for the lost, and to celebrate and rejoice when a sinner comes to repentance and joins the family of God.
When we find ourselves living in that place, that is the greatest thing we can ever experience in this life. When we’re in harmony with the heart of God . . . when we’re in tune with the frequency of heaven, that’s when we’ll move and flow in the purpose that we’ve been created for.
DIG: What do we see about the older brother and the Pharisees?
DISCOVER: How can we keep ourselves from becoming the older brother?
DO: Ask the Lord to root out any trace of the older brother from your heart today.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.