God’s Lost And Found Department #4
The Lost Sibling
Intro: This morning we will conclude our time in God’s Lost and Found
Department. We have listened in as the Lord Jesus spoke of a shepherd
seeking one lost sheep. We have heard of a woman who was moved to
search for one lost coin. We have seen a father looking for and receiving
home again one lost son. This whole chapter has been about the
restoration of lost things. We have learned, I hope, that God places great
value on each individual’s soul. Friends, He wants to see you saved. We
saw the shepherd seeking 1 sheep out of 100, or 1%. We saw the woman
seeking 1 coin out of 10, or 10%. We saw the father longing for 1 son out
of 2, or 50%. Today, we will see the same father go to another son 1 on 1,
or 100%. The lesson here is clear! God cares about each individual and He
wants all to be saved, 2 Pet. 3:9.
Very often, when the illustrations in this chapter are preached, you hear
about the sheep, the silver and the son, but it is a rare day when you hear
anything about the elder brother, the sibling. In fact, I have never heard a
sermon on the elder brother, but I have preached on him a few times. Why
is that? I think we avoid this story because it hits too close to home! (Ill.
Some preachers were discussing the Bible one day when the subject of the
elder brother and his identity came up. They were trying to figure out who
he was. One older preacher spoke up and said, “I know who he is. In fact,
I saw him just yesterday.” The other ministers, eager to hear his response
asked, “Who is he?” The wise old preacher said simply, “He is me!”)
The Lord Jesus is still talking about lost things. He is still dealing with
the attitude of the Scribes and Pharisees toward lost sinners, v. 1-2. This
elder brother pictures one who is involved in the things of God, but who,
sadly, has no real relationship with the father. He might be in the father’s
house, but he is still lost. He is still in the “far country” in his heart!
As we study this passage today, I want you to listen very carefully
because this message is designed to speak to two classes of people. First,
the primary message is to those who are lost in sin and need to be saved.
You might be religious, you might be a church member, you might be a
good, moral person, but you have never been saved. God has a word for
you today. Second, this message has a word for people who are saved, but
who have the same spirit an attitude as the elder brother. That is, people
who are upset that God is blessing. People who do not like it when the
prodigal sons come home. People who refuse to rejoice over what God is
doing because it isn’t being done their way. The fact is, we all have a littler
bit of the elder brother in us from time to time.
Today, we are going to consider the illustration of The Lost Sibling. It
may be that the Lord will use this message to pinpoint a problem area in
your life. If He does, please obey His voice and deal with whatever issues
He exposes. It may be that the Lord will show you that you are lost today.
If He does, then I challenge you to come to Him for salvation today. For the
next few minutes, lets turn our hearts heavenward and allow the Lord to
speak to each of us as we consider The Lost Sibling.
I. V. 25a THE POSITION HE HELD IN THE FAMILY
A. In The Position Of Privilege - He is the elder brother. As such, he
is entitled to two-thirds of His father’s possessions, Deut. 21:17.
Since his younger brother has already received his part of the
inheritance, v. 12, everything belongs to this man. When his father
dies, not only will he receive his father’s possessions, he will also
become the head of the family. Much has been given to this young
man already and more is on the way. He has been blessed indeed!
B. In The Position Of Productivity - When we first meet this man, he
is “in the fields”. That is, he is busy doing his father’s business.
While his younger brother has been off in the far country living it up,
this young man has stayed home and he has kept up the family
business. He has been working for the father.
(Note: At this point, in the story we do not know that there is a problem
in the life of this young man. From every outward appearance, he is in
good fellowship with his father and all is well. But, remember that he is
a picture of the Pharisees, scribe and religious elite to whom Jesus is
speaking. These were people who were also in a place of privilege.
After all, they had been given the Law and the revelation of the coming
of Messiah. They had been given the truth, and from all outward
appearances, they were walking in that truth! The Pharisees and the
scribes looked good to men, but there was a problem within their hearts!
The problem was this: they were lost and undone in sin and the Lord
(Note: The same thing might be true of some in this very service! You
are a good moral person. You come to church. You don’t cuss, drink,
steal or cheat. You have been through the baptistry and are a church
member. From all outward appearances, you are as good as anybody
around you. But, just as Jesus could look into the heart of the Pharisee
and see his lost condition, He can look within your heart and see that
you are lost too. You see, you can fool all of us, but you cannot fool
Him, 1 Sam. 16:7. You might be good, moral and active in your church
and still be lost, Matt. 7:21-23. You can’t even trust what you “feel in
your heart” about this matter, Jer. 17:9-10! Just for the record, I am not
trying to make anyone doubt their salvation. I am merely trying to point
out the truth that religion does not equal salvation. Being close to the
things of God does not equal being saved by the grace of God. Being
in a church does not make you a Christian anymore than sleeping in a
garage makes you a car, neither does climbing a tree make you a
squirrel. You must not depend on who you are or what you have done
for your salvation. You must be born again, John 3:3, 7. Salvation is
by grace through faith, Eph. 2:8-9. Are you saved?)
II. V. 25b-30 THE PROBLEM HE HAD WITH THE FESTIVITIES
(Ill. The context. Here is where things start to get a little too close for
comfort for most of us. But, as painful as it may be, these truths will
help us grow in the Lord and to become more like Him!)
A. He Had A Problem With His Motives - When this boy hears why
there is a celebration, he is angry and refuses to go in to the party.
His father comes out and gently pleads with him to come in with the
others. His reply to his father is very telling of this boy’s heart. In
verse 29, he reminds the father of his faithful service and complains
that he has never been given a feast for what he has done. The
bottom line here is this:
1. This man did not care that his lost brother had come home.
2. This man did not care about that which pleased the father.
3. This man did not care about the glory of the father, he wanted the
glory for what he had been doing.
4. This man did not even care about the father, he did what he did
for what he could get out of it.
5. This man even saw his service to the father as “slavery”, v. 29.
He didn’t serve his father out of love for the father, but out of a
desire to help himself.
(Note: Sadly, this same mentality is in the hearts of many within the
church today. They cannot rejoice when sinners are saved, because
they feel threatened, Ill. Jonah - Jonah 4. They cannot get excited
when the church grows, because they see their hold on power
slipping away. They do not care about God’s will being done in the
church, if it runs counter to their personal agenda. They want the
accolades, the pats on the backs and the glory. Their service in the
church is not about God, it is about them! When you see this kind
of attitude in a life, either you have a lost person masquerading as
a saved person, or you have someone who is out of God’s will!
Friend, what drives your service in the church today? What are your
motives for what you do? Paul tells us there is but one valid motive,
1 Cor. 10:31.)
B. He Had A Problem With His Mentality - When you listen to this boy
talk to the father, you quickly realize that he is proud, disrespectful,
arrogant, defensive and angry. There is obviously something wrong
with the way he is looking at what is happening here. He should be
overjoyed that his brother has returned safely from the far country.
He should be rejoicing that the father has received a lost son home
again. But all he can do is whine, pout and complain.
Do you want to know what his real problem is? He tells us in verse 30. Look at what he says, who told him this boy had spent his
money on harlots? He hasn’t even talked to the boy or to the father.
Do you know what’s wrong with him? He’s jealous! He may be at
home in his body, but he is in the far country in his heart! He is as
far away from the father as was the other son when he went away.
All he wants to do is live it up like the other boy did! But, He can’t, so
he gets mad that one who did the very things he wants to do in his
heart has been received by the father. (Ill. This is what was wrong
with the Pharisees. They kept the letter of the Law outwardly, but in
their hearts, they longed for sin!)
Friend, you don’t have to be a drunk to be out of God’s
will! You don’t have to be an adulterer to be in the far country
spiritually. You can serve your church, sing in the choir, preach the
Word, or anything else you want to name and still be out of God’s
will! You can sit here this morning mad and resentful over things that
may have taken place here at church, friend, that hinders your walk
with God! You can look pious and righteous today, but have a heart full
of malice because of what someone said or did to you. Friend, that puts
you in the far country. You may look as good as anyone this morning,
but you can have a heart that is filled with lust, evil thoughts, desires
for sin, etc. Do you see that I am saying? You can pretend to be anything
you wish outwardly, but it is the condition of the heart that matters,
Matt. 15:18-19. When you get
saved, the Lord gives you a new heart, Eze.
36:26. That gives you the ability to live a new life. But, it
is possible for people with new hearts to full of sin and evil. What
is the solution? 1 John 1:9!)
C. He Had A Problem With His Methods - (Ill. It was considered to
utmost in disrespect for a young man to argue with his father. But
this boy did it in front of the servants and the guests. He brought as
much or maybe more disgrace upon the father as the other son,
because he did what he did in public.) Notice how this young man
handled his anger. He attacked, he criticized and he blamed! This
lets you know that his heart is not right! Why? Because your
outward attitudes and actions are a mirror into your heart. Listen to
what Paul says about this is Gal. 5:19-23. What does your heart
say about you? You watch people who can only attack others,
criticize them and place blame on everyone but themselves. That
kind of person has real spiritual issues!
(Note: I told you, this hits kind of close to home!)
III. V. 28, 31-32 THE PETITION HE HEARD FROM THE FATHER
A. It Was A Petition Of Pleading - The father went out and
“entreated” this boy to come in to the feast. The word “entreat”
means “to come alongside of another to offer aid and comfort,
to beg, to console, to comfort, to encourage.” It is the same
word that is translated “Comforter” in John 16:13 and is one of the
names of the Holy Spirit. This father loved him. Notice that this son
won’t even call him father, but the father calls him “son”. This father
went to this boy in the right spirit, but he was rejected!
(Note: Whether you are saved or lost today, I believe the Heavenly
Father is speaking to your heart. I believe He is touching areas that
nee to be fixed. Friend, it may not feel good at the time, but it sure
is a blessing for the Lord to speak to you heart and call you to come
in. If He is calling, why not just heed His voice?)
B. It Was A Petition Of Promise - The father praised him for his
efforts, and reminded him that everything was already his! In effect,
this father was saying, “I value you and our relationship together
more than I value your works.” This boy could have enjoyed
fellowship with the father anytime he wanted, but apparently, he was
too wrapped up within his own legalism and narrow-mindedness to
realize it. This boy wanted what the father had, but he did not want
the father, and he did not want anyone else to have the father either.
What a tragedy!
(Note: The same thing is true in many hearts today! People want
the church. They want to feel better about themselves. They want
a fire insurance policy, but they do not want an intimate relationship
with the Father. Often, they resent those who do want that
closeness. I just want to remind you this morning, you are as close
to the Lord as you want to be! You have as much fellowship with
Him as you want to have. You can have more, if you want it. Do
C. It Was A Petition Of Priorities - The father tells this boy that is was
“meet” that they should have this celebration. The word “meet”
means “necessary”. To the father, the return of the lost son was a
cause for celebration. A lost one had been found. One considered
dead was now alive again. And, perhaps most importantly, a
father’s love and faith had been vindicated and the family name
restored. There was much cause for rejoicing. The father wants this
boy to learn the truth that everything isn’t about him and about him
getting his own way. There are bigger issues at stake and they
should take priority!
(Note: So it is in the things of God. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is
more important than the glory of God. And, instead of getting upset
when things don’t go our way, we should learn to thank the Lord for
what He is doing! You see, instead of pouting, this boy could have
been partying! Look at this chapter, everyone is happy but this boy.
The shepherd is happy. The woman is happy. The father is happy.
The lost son is happy. The servants are happy. The only person in
misery is this elder brother. And, he is miserable because he
refuses to be happy. The feast is there, all he has to do is go in and
enjoy himself! But, he is standing out there pouting, because he
didn’t get his way and because he is not the center of attention!
What a shame! Of course, there are some here to day in those same
shoes! You don’t have to stay there friend! The Father is still calling
you to come home, if you will!)
Conc: Have you ever noticed that this is an open-ended story? Did the
elder brother ever come into the feast? We don’t know! I think Jesus left
it this way for a reason. And here is that reason: Every individual must
write his or her own ending to this story!
If you are lost today, will you stay out, or will you come in? If you are in,
but things aren’t right, will you stay outside and pout, or will you get in on
what the Lord is doing? The choice is yours today, what will you do? You
say, “I won’t choose!” You just did! Making no choice is making a “no”
choice! But, I pray you won’t do that today. If the Lord has spoken to your
heart about salvation or about your personal walk with Him, please come
today while He is calling you to come in. After all, the whole point of this
extended parable has been to show the importance of the human soul to
God and to point lost people to a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He
loves you friend, won’t you come in to Him?