September 24, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on January 11, 2015.

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“An Elder Brother Like No Other”

Luke 15:4, 8, 28 (NIV)

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.  Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it. . . .  

[8] Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? . . . . [28] “The older brother became angry and refused to go in.  So his father went out and pleaded with him.”

The Christian faith in the wrong hands can turn into a weapon of condemning others, thereby, making the accuser feeling superior to the accused.  Recall the prayer of the Pharisee who said, “I thank God that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers” (Lk. 18:10).  But in Luke 15, Jesus presents the parable of lost sheep, coin and son to show that “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Lk. 19:10). So we see that the shepherd and the woman immediately set out to find what was lost and, upon finding it, both say, “Rejoice with me” (Lk. 15:6, 9). However, no one is looking for the younger son. Theologian Edmund Clowney, when asked if culturally the father would have gone out looking for the son, responded, “The older brother would have done that”; but the older brother in the parable stays put.      

At the very least, the Pharisees, whom the older son represents, were known to “travel over land and sea to win a single convert.” Their problem was the message which made their convert “twice as much a child of hell as [they] are” (Matt. 23:15).  But the older son is acting worse than the Pharisees: first, he thinks worst of his brother, assuming his association with prostitutes (something Jesus never said); second, he doesn’t care whether his brother is alive or dead.  While the older son has always been near his father physically, his heart is as far from the father’s as east is from the west; while the father rejoices, the older son growls at the return of his brother.

Where the older son in the parable fails, another steps in: “His Son (Rom. 8:29 NASB), the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (NIV).  There have been discussions over whom the father in the parable represents.  While the traditional answer is God the Father, some note that since the father is the one who suffers (i.e., shame and humiliation), he represents Jesus who suffered in order to redeem the lost.  But unlike the elder brother in the parable who doesn’t care, the elder brother in God’s family does: he runs after the younger brother to keep him from being condemned by the villagers (Qetsatsah ceremony); he goes out to the older son who had been lost as well, to save him.  Jesus is an elder brother like no other. 

Those who have been believers for a while tend to become disgusted by sinners around them.  It is always easier to judge than reach out to them.  “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners’” (Mk. 2:17 NIV).

Prayer: Thank you Jesus for always looking to find what had been lost, some long away from home, others right at home.  We love You for it. We love you.  Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Chronicles 6-7

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