The Prodigal Son And His Brother

The parable of the Prodigal Son has become one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. It, however, included two other characters as well, the younger son’s father and his brother.

The father welcomed his returning prodigal with open arms while his older son could only show anger towards him.

Your brother is back, he was told, and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return. The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. Luke 15:28

Jesus often used parables to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. Luke 15 records three of His parables, each about something that got lost. The Prodigal Son is the third of these three stories.

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Parable #1, The Lost Sheep

The first one deals with a shepherd who had 100 sheep. Jesus asked the question, What would the shepherd do if he lost one of them?

If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?  Luke 15:4

He continued by saying when he found it he carried it home. And then called his friends and neighbors together to rejoice with him because he had found his lost sheep. Then Jesus said;

In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! Luke 15:7

Parable #2, The Lost Coin

The second parable is different but yet similar. In this story, a woman had ten silver coins and she lost one of them. Just like the first story, Jesus again asked a question.

Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? Luke 15:8

And when she found it, she too would call in her friends and neighbors. Then she would say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ Jesus also concluded this story with;

In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents. Luke 15:10

Parable #3, The Prodigal Son

Jesus told the first two parables as a way to set up the third one about the prodigal son. But He started this story with, “To illustrate the point further,” so everyone knew they were connected.

A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. Luke 15:11-12

After receiving his share of the inheritance from his father the younger son left home. He made some very unwise choices and ended up squandering all his money.

  • He packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land,
  • And there he wasted all his money in wild living.
  • A great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve.
  • He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs.
  • He became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him.
  • But no one gave him anything. Luke 15:13-16

When hunger finally got the best of him he came to his senses. So he decided to humble himself and go back home, not as his father’s son but as his servant.

I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant. Luke 15:18-19

A Celebration Over the Return of the Prodigal Son

His father saw him coming and even while he was still a long way off he was filled with joy. His son had returned and it was time for a great celebration. So he said to the servants;

  • Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him.
  • Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet.
  • And kill the calf we have been fattening.
  • We must celebrate with a feast,
  • for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life.
  • He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. Luke 15:22-24

In the first two parables, a celebration followed when each owner found their lost item. So when the prodigal son returned home his father had an even better reason to celebrate. 

Jesus could have ended His story with this celebration just like He did in the first two stories. But instead, He chose to include the anger shown by his brother.

The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him. Luke 15:28

Why Did the Older Son Become Angry?

Prodigal Son

What reason could the Lord have had to include the brother’s anger? Maybe because in reality not everyone rejoices when a person turns their life over to the Lord.

We can understand when someone unsaved loses a drinking buddy or a partner in other sinful activities. But sadly Christians can also exhibit anger in their heart when a person receives Christ.

Some don’t like the fact that Jesus and the church become the focus of their lives. Others become jealous because the new Christian had a better experience with the Lord than they did.

Then some feel that because of their past, the new Christian doesn’t deserve salvation. Also, some spouses don’t like losing their spiritual superiority in their marriage relationship. 

But we must understand the return of a prodigal son or daughter for that matter deserves celebrated. And the father in this story emphasized that point to his older son.

We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found! Luke 15:32

Lord, thank you for the celebration that happened in heaven when each of us accepted Jesus. We pray for each prodigal son and daughter who needs to come back to you.

This father had great joy, check out these related posts on Joy.



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