The Two Sons, The Two Brothers
Luke 15:11-32– March 13, 2022
BACKGROUND: The setting is found in chapter 14:25-27 – large crowds were all around Jesus even as He spoke of the price of following Him. Then in verses 34-35. After hearing this, people still gathered around Him as 15:1-2 tell us. Twice Jesus has made it clear Heaven rejoices when a sinner repents and changes his ways. It is at this point after creating this framework we come to two sons, two brothers.
Luke 15:11. As we approach the end of this parable, I am reminded of two other sons, two brothers, Cain and Abel, but more about that later.
Luke 15:12. Under Jewish law the eldest son got 2/3rds of the inheritance and the remainder was divided among the rest of the children. However, no child had the right to their share of the inheritance before the parent’s death.
Luke 15:13. Many of us know a brother or sister or a relative like this who with little or no planning just took off to make a new life and squandered all they had. This brother reminded me of something my Father used to say when I or one of my brothers had earned some money, “Don’t let it burn a hole in your pocket.” We seldom listened to him or at least not until we got some real world experience under our belts.
Luke 15:14-16. Both Leviticus 11:7 and Deuteronomy 14:8 tell us that for a Jew a pig was unclean and the latter that they were not to eat it or even touch it.
Luke 15:17-20a. He had had enough. He knew what he had done was wrong, sinful. He was ready to change his ways. His only real hope was to return home and hope for the best. And the best he hoped for was that he did not expect to be treated like a son or even the servants who were like family, but like a hired hand, a day laborer and this only after a confession of repentance.
Luke 15:20b-24. The mercy of the father was beyond measure! He ran to him. The people there, if they had spotted the son first, could have driven him off as a blight upon the reputation of the village.
–The depth of the son’s repentance is matched by the depth of the father’s love resulting in taking pity on him.
–Responding to his son’s confession of repentance, the father ordered not a robe, but the best robe for his lost son, a ring and sandals. And said, this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. This phrase is used again and again, to show the mercy of God the Father for the lost. But the point of the story is about the confession of
sin, recovery, and restoration in a relationship with God.
Luke 15:25-27. He learned his long-lost brother had returned. He was back safe and sound so there was cause to celebrate. Not everyone returned safe and sound, lessons learned. Many died before they could return or came back wounded from their escapades. For my generation it was Vietnam.
Luke 15:28-30. In his anger the older brother has no joy in the return of his younger brother. He is only jealous along with his anger. So angry he refers to his only brother when speaking to the father as this son of yours. The older brother at this moment represents the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. They would understand the
position of the older brother. I imagine them upon hearing this straightening up and looking around with an aura of righteousness. The feeling would not last long. God has a conversation with Cain much like the Father has next with the elder son. From Genesis 4:6-7,
What does the father say to the elder son?
Luke 15:31-32. The father said My son, literally translated, My child, an expression of love and caring. He then explained that the inheritance had already been distributed. Everything the father had now was literally the elder son’s possession. Yet the elder son was begrudging even the love the father showed to the returned son.
–The older son is a powerful picture of the scribes and Pharisees. They resented God’s showing mercy to outrageous sinners or to any sinner. The truth of the matter was that they were religious hypocrites and guilty sinners. Jesus would later tell another parable to make this point more explicitly in Luke 18:9-14.
–This ended Jesus’ teaching to the Jewish leadership about mercy through the older brother.
Now all of you sinners out there, you can become a redeemed son by putting your faith and trust in Christ who died for you. If you accept Christ and come to Him, God becomes your Father and He will never throw you overboard. If you leave Him and one day return, He will be waiting to put His arms around you.