- Religion and Philosophy
The Prodigal Son's Brother - All That I Have Is Thine
The Prodigal Son
The Parable Of The Prodigal Son
The Prodigal Son
We have often heard the story of The Prodigal Son but tonight I want to take a different slant. I want to talk about his elder brother – the one who stayed and did his father’s will and felt like he was not being treated right while the prodigal had left the Church was living it up in sin and seeming to live it up when he got back.
[Turn to Luke 15:11-32 to see the parable or watch the two videos at both ends of this hub to refresh your minds with this story]. The elder brother was furious that the prodigal son who wasted his inheritance on harlots and riotous living was seemingly treated better than he who had kept at the father’s side and served him faithfully all these years so he refused to go in the house where the feast was. The prodigal had been given, not A fatted calf, but THE fatted calf, and THE best robe. No kid had ever been given to the elder brother who had been so faithful. The father was so gracious that despite the elder brother’s attitude he came out to meet the elder brother too! Not only did he come out to meet the prodigal son. He came out to meet the elder brother.
Luke 15:31,32 says:
“And he [the father] said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
The father reminds the elder brother that the one who returned was not only the father’s son but the elder brother’s brother. So he says WE should be happy not me alone. It is as if he says “Elder brother, turn the “m” in “me” upside down. You have things upside down. The word is “we” not “me.” We both should be happy for the return of the prodigal son. We need to be glad when we have new converts. We need to help in saving the lost.”
The elder brother loves the Father as Lord but not as much as Saviour – at least not as Saviour of other men. This is in stark contrast to the other extreme in the world that loves Jesus as Saviour but not as Lord. Matthew 18:11 says “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” The elder brother forgot that. Yet we need to remember that God who rules and overrules has rules. The world rejects that.
Now what should the line “All that I have is thine” mean to the elder brother?
(1) The prodigal had gotten the fatted calf but the elder brother needed to remember that his father had cattle on a thousand hills and was saying to him “All that I have is thine.
(2) The prodigal was thrown one feast but Psalms 16:11 “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures [for how long?] for evermore.”
Proverbs 15:15 adds “All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.” The prodigal had one feast but those who stay at the father’s side have a continual feast.
The elder brother did not see any joy in the here and now at his father’s side. Many times Christians only look for God’s blessings in our future life but Luke 18:28-30 says:
28 Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee.
29 And he (Jesus) said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake,
30 Who shall not receive manifold more IN THIS PRESENT TIME, AND in the world to come life everlasting.
The elder brother had unopened packages, unopened gifts from the father with his name on them! He was living below his means. As a preacher once said “Some people preach cream and live skimmed milk.”
The Prodigal Squandered His Inheritance And Ate Pig Food
How shall we ensure that we do not go through life with unopened gifts and blessings from God the Father?
We need to ask.
There is a Trini saying that says “Who don’t ask don’t want.”
That was one of the elder brother’s problems. He never got a calf because he never asked.
James 4:2 says “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.”
This text is saying that with all the wishing we do for things that we want, with all the fighting up to achieve, we often do not receive or get what we want because we do not ask the Father. How simple that is! What a fundamental, basic error we make. “All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
The book Great Controversy page 525 says:
“It is a part of God’s plan to grant us, in answer to the prayer of faith, that which He would not bestow did we not thus ask.”
One of my favourite quotations is from the book Christian Service, page 262 which says:
“He (God) is well pleased when they make the very highest demands upon Him, that they may glorify His name. They may expect large things if they have faith in His promises.”
The elder brother had already gotten his inheritance yet his father still said “All that I have is thine.” There is no limit to God’s blessings once we are in the right attitude to receive them. He will open the windows of Heaven and there will not be room enough to receive it. The only other two times the expression “windows of Heaven” is used is when God flooded the world with water in the days of Noah.
Are we then praying for too little? Are we thinking too small instead of big? So, are we, like Joash the king of Israel, who disappointed Elisha the prophet by striking the ground three times instead of five or six times which would have given him total victory?
We need to realize how great a gift prayer is. If prayer was known by another name it would be more popular in many circles. If I were to give prayer a scientific name I would call it “telepathy.” According to Wikipedia telepathy “is the purported transmission of information from one person to another without using any of our known sensory channels or physical interaction.” Church, prayer is nothing but telepathy – a telepathy that only works between God and human not human and human. More than that “Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend.” (Steps to Christ page 93)
Peter and Simon Magus
(2) Ask for the right reason with the right heart
James 4:3 “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”
- When God asked King Solomon what he wanted he did not ask for great wealth and fame. He asked for wisdom to direct God’s people in the right way. God gave him great, legendary wisdom above any man we know in the Bible and because he did not ask selfishly God gave him what he did not ask for - great wealth and fame.
- Contrast that with Simon Magus the magician. He saw the apostles doing great miracles, greater than all the power that he had and he offered them money to get the Holy Spirit’s power because of his covetousness and selfishness. We need to also ask in faith and our hearts must be pure. Those are the conditions of answered prayer.
The Parting Of The Red Sea
(3) What do you have in your hand?
Will God necessarily give us more gifts if we do not open the ones that we do have? In this parable the father gave the prodigal son a symbolic ring. The elder brother was jealous of that too. Sometimes we are mindful of what we do not have but we do not use what we do have. But whatever God places into our hands is precious not just what the prodigal received. Today God is asking us the same thing He asked Moses “What is that in thine hand?
- Moses had a rod in his hand. The rod turned to a snake and ate Pharoah’s snakes which were really rods too.
- The Red Sea parted when Moses stretched the rod across it.
- One boy in the Gospels had five loaves and two fishes in his hand. Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes to
- Elisha had borrowed jugs. He poured oil into them and the oil multiplied to the point where the woman was able to pay off her debts and save her sons from going to jail.
- What has God put in your hand today? It might be money, good health, talent, family – Use it all to God’s glory and don’t envy the prodigal his ring for God blessed you too.
- Peter did not have a gold ring around his finger but he had the Spirit and said “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee.” Through the Holy Spirit the lame man walked again and jumped his way right into one of the songs we know too well.
(1) The elder brother was envious that his brother got the best robe but he forgot that it was because his brother was wearing rags.
(2) He was envious that his brother got the fatted calf but forgot that it was because his brother was so hungry he had been eating pig food. He was so hungry he could eat a cow. He got a feast because of his fast. The only stipend he knew was a pig sty or pen.
(3) He was envious that his brother got a ring from his father but he did not know that it was because the prodigal did not feel good enough to be even called a son but a servant.
(4) If it seemed that the prodigal got more visible shows of affection it was because he had more visible shows of abandonment by his friends. We see the words of Jude verse 22 applying here for it says “And of some have compassion, making a difference.”
John - Close To The Master's Side
It is time we stop envying the prodigal and live in the richness of blessing that God has for those that remain at His side and keep His commandments. You see, it was the disciple who laid on Jesus’ chest – the one who stayed and laid on His heart that was called “the disciple that Jesus loved.” You see, John knew that “There is a place of quiet rest near to the heart of God.”
When Jesus wanted someone to take care of His dear mother when He was on the cross,
(1) He didn’t ask His good friend Lazarus whom He had raised from the dead a few days before.
(2) He didn’t ask Peter the leading disciple.
(3) He didn’t ask rich Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea who could really care for His mother with their money.
All of these loved Him and all of these He loved.
(4) But He asked the disciple that laid on His chest – the disciple that kept closest to His side – John.
I can almost hear Jesus using the words of Paul in Philippians 2:20 on the cross to His mother when Paul says “For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.”
When Jesus was arrested all the disciples fled for their lives but it was John who returned and could be seen in the judgment hall.
After writing about all of John’s defects and how he was transformed by being close to the Master’s side E.G White in the book “Acts of the Apostles” page 545 says:
“It was John’s deep love for Christ which led him always to desire to be close by His side. The Saviour loved all the Twelve, but John’s was the most receptive spirit. He was younger than the others, and with more of the child’s confiding trust he opened his heart to Jesus. Thus he came more into sympathy with Christ, and through him the Saviour’s deepest spiritual teaching was communicated to the people.
Jesus loves those who represent the Father, and John could talk of the Father’s love as no other of the disciples could.”
We look on from that moment.
We see faithful, impetuous Peter crucified upside-down.
We see Paul the zealous, illustrious apostle beheaded.
We look on like Peter to see what will become of the disciple that Jesus loved who stayed at His side more than the others. We see him placed into a cauldron of boiling oil for all who live godly will suffer persecution. But like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego almost 700 years before him he comes out unscathed, unharmed. They have the option to eliminate him, to incinerate him but all they do is isolate him – they place him on the isle of Patmos where he – out of all the disciples – sees Jesus returning in the midst of the seven candlesticks. They had wanted to kill him but instead they place him on an island called “Patmos” whose meaning in the Greek is “my killing.” There he writes one of the most important books of the Bible – Revelation – the book for our time! He could not die until his mission was done.
Are You Living Below Your Means?
Are you living below your means? Do you have financial worries, problems at work, dysfunctional families, health crises and you never took it to the Lord in prayer? Are you bearing things that God gave the Church and the world a solution to many, many years ago? Are you striving but not thriving? Do you see yourself as having only one, insignificant gift and others, maybe prodigals, have ten?
Others may seem to have all the gifts now but God wants to show us a more excellent way – Charity, love – that is the greatest of these. That’s where the elder brother was lacking. If he had given his body to be burned for God’s cause God would have regarded it as char not charity.
Let us all be concerned with Christian growth, the fruit of the Spirit. Without holiness we will not see God. The main thing is to know God. Let it not be said as in Jeremiah 2:8 “they that handle the law knew me not.” When we know God, His Word and His promises we will be able to bear our trials better.
Down here we may fight up to keep our place as heirs of the kingdom, children of the king but one day the Bible says we shall be kings and priests reigning with Jesus.
Down here someone may take our seat at a function, at school or work but one day we shall sit down with God in His throne.
Down here we may be unworthy of notice by the world for even the prophet is not accepted in his own country but up there things are very different. E.G White says in Sons And Daughters Of God, page 243 “There was to be imparted to the human being striving for conformity to the divine image an outlay of heaven’s treasures, an excellency of power, which would place him higher than the angels who had not fallen.”
Oh down here people may take our place but one day, if we are faithful, God is saying “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
Down here we may not have silver and gold but one day the faithful will walk the streets of gold. We will belong to a city where every gate is a pearl. And the foundations of every wall will be jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprasus, jacinth, and amethyst.
Down here we may experience a sea of trouble and God will tell us:
Isaiah 43:2 “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”
He says “Don’t be afraid little one. The only sea in Heaven you will walk through or on is the sea of glass! The only river there is a river of life and it won’t hurt you because on either side of it is the tree of life and it flows directly from My throne.”
Yes, “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.” (Psalms 46:4)
Do you plan to be there? Or do you plan to faithfully build Noah’s Ark and when the Flood comes you are not inside the Ark that you helped build for years?
As I close, the Bible tells us of another Son that wants to return. He is the Son of God! He gave up His life so that you and I could have, not riotous living, but righteous living. Let it not be said that that Son wasted His substance on righteous living for we must accept and profit from His gift of salvation or else it is all a prodigious waste. He wants to come back two thousand years now but like the father in the parable and like the ten virgins of Matt. 25 we must go out to meet Him, and He is not a great distance away. Matt. 24:33 says that He is even at the door. Will you accept His great sacrifice on Calvary today? Will you go out to meet Him and accept Him into your life? Make your decision today before it is too late.
To read another hub by the same author see Who Is This Jesus?