The Angry Bitter Son. The older brother un+++leashed rage on his father, not his younger brother. What anger and bitterness! When religious people become bitter and angry, they can become crueler than lost people and don’t care who they hurt. They will crucify you and laugh about it.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE CHAPTER 15
The Angry Bitter Son (Luke 15:25-32)
By Pastor Delbert Young
The Angry Bitter Son – Luke 15:8-24
Scriptures: Luke 15:8-10, Luke 15:11-13, Luke 15:14-16, Luke 15:17-20, Luke 15:20-24
Luke 15:1-3 Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law MUTTERED, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them THIS PARABLE:
Have you ever muttered? In church? I have. To address this angry bitter attitude of muttering religious people, Jesus told a series of stories called a parable. We’ve been studying this parable for the past few weeks. Jesus showed the lost sheep became the most important sheep. The lost coin became the most important coin. The lost son became the most important son. The other 99 sheep, 9 coins, and other son were loved, but the one of most importance was the lost one.
We’re seeing the attitude of separation from and condemnation of sinners and outcasts is a religious attitude showing our being out of touch and separation from God. We’re the ones lost relationally. This is the lesson today. A reason the church does not reach outcasts and sinners is because of this religious attitude of condemnation.
Last time we talked about the lost son representing outcasts and sinners coming home and the Amazing Father’s, God’s response – rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God. He celebrated.
Luke 15:23-24 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For THIS SON OF MINE was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Surprisingly, the parable and this story did not end by the younger son coming home and celebrating. There’s something more to share. It’s the story of the Older Brother and this religious attitude of separation. Its meaning is Pharisees and teachers of the law, religious people, were lost too. Is it possible to attend church and be very religious, but be very lost relationally with God? Yes. This is lost of the worst kind. They don’t realize they are lost. When we don’t realize we’re lost, we get further lost. What could be worse than thinking you are good with God because you are religious, but be lost? Let’s read.
Luke 15:25-32 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, heHEARD MUSIC AND DANCING. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ “THE OLDER BROTHER BECAME ANGRY AND REF– USED TO GO IN. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! all these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”
When you can hear dancing, there’s some serious celebrating going on. Some of you need to get a revelation of this. Is it possible Father God sponsors and enjoys music and dancing?
(Picture by Murillo – puppy, fattened calf, ring, robe/sandals, angry brother in shadows muttering)
You heard the story about the Sunday School teacher who told the class about the Prodigal coming home and how the father put a robe, a ring, and sandals on him. She told how the father killed the fattened calf and how the older brother acted. She asked her class who was not happy the younger son came home. Little Johnny raised his hand and answered, “The fattened calf.” The calf is the only one who should not be happy, but it wasn’t. We’re not going to kill a calf, but it would be great to kill muttering, bitterness, anger, and condemnation in church. I must say, it’s not bad here. Seldom do I hear muttering. You guys do great… most of the time. Older brother shows up occasionally.
Let’s unpack this story a little.
Luke 15:28 “The older brother BECAME ANGRY AND REF– USED TO GO IN…
With whom was he angry? Father! Religious people are angry, cruel people, but who they are actually angry with and cruel toward is Father. Why? Father welcomes sinners, eats, and celebrates life with them. If you do what you will need to do to reach outcasts and sinners, you will upset religious people, but who they are angry with is God.
Luke 15:28 His father WENT OUT AND PLEADED WITH HIM.
Similarly, as the father went running to the younger brother coming home, he went out to theangry older brother, but received a very different response. Father doesn’t want us to forget about those who are angry with us. As difficult as it is for me, Jesus wants me to touch the lives of angry religious people. Jesus did and it was tough for him too. Father still loves them, reaches for, and pleads with them, but isn’t it sad Father God has to plead with religious people to celebrate life with him? They’re out there miserable and angry. Come celebrate!
Luke 15:29-30 But he answered his father, ‘LOOK! All these years I’VE been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet YOU never gave ME even a young goat so I could celebrate with MY friends. But when this son of YOURS who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, YOU kill the fattened calf for him!’
He blamed his father. What a sour disrespectful attitude! Jesus created a very convincing realistic character. We’ve all seen him and likely been him. It’s all about me, my, and I. The reason he couldn’t celebrate life with his father, with his brother, and with everyone else was because of me, my, and I. When it’s about me, my, and I, we will become angry and have attitudes and robbed of celebrating life.
He unleashed rage on his father, not his younger brother. What anger and bitterness! When religious people become bitter and angry, they can become crueler than lost people and don’t care who they hurt. They will crucify you and laugh about it.
In his mind he was good and in his mind his brother was bad. He was self-righteous. Because he’s done some good things, he’s under the allusion he’s good, but Jesus said there’s none good not even one (Mar 10:18). Critical religious people always exaggerate their goodness and exaggerate other’s badness. For some reason the bad things I’ve done aren’t nearly as bad as the bad things you’ve done. Somehow we think it fools and impresses Father God when we exaggerate the faults of others and minimize our faults.
Luke 15:29 …‘LOOK! ALL THESE YEARS I’VE BEEN SLAVING FOR YOU and never disobeyedYOUR ORDERS. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.
To religious people salvation and serving God is slavery. It’s keeping all the orders – commandments with little or no return – not even a tiny goat. Being a Christian is slavery to them, not a celebration. Church and reaching people should be a celebration, not slavery.
Religious people have a tendency to substitute working for God as a relationship with God. It’s easier sometimes to do things for God than to maintain a relationship with God. We can easily relate what we do for God as a relationship with God. It’s not. He did all these things for his father, but had no relationship with his father’s heart. Where are you here? Where is your relationship with Father? Do you talk to him in prayer? Does he talk to you through his word? Do you know his heart for people? Rate your relationship. You’re not lost are you?
Luke 15:31-32 “‘MY SON,’ the father said, ‘you are always WITH ME, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because THIS BROTHER OF YOURS was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”
How tender! How loving is the Amazing Father! It’s, “Son, yes, you have always workedwith me, but not for me. I appreciate all you do, but I don’t value you because of what you do. I value you because you are my son. I want you to desire to do all you do because you are my son, and you love me, not because of slavery.” God doesn’t love you because of all you do. He loves you because you’re his child. Everything God has is yours. All God has is available to his children.
This angry son was lost but didn’t know it. He is more lost than the younger son ever was. He’s lost relationally to the father though standing there location-ally. He’s lost an understanding of his father’s heart. He’s lost to his own brother relationally, refusing to forgive and accept. He’s lost to all the others inside the kingdom celebrating life. He’s lost! He’s caused the family to be dysfunctional, not the father or the younger brother. Angry condemning religious people cause the kingdom to be dysfunctional.
Jesus told these stories to two groups of people – the outcasts and sinners and the Pharisees. The message of the younger son was to the tax collectors and sinners. Father God wants you to come home. The message of the older son was to the Pharisees and teachers of the law. You are full of self-righteousness, resentment, anger toward God, and you are missing the party and celebration of life.
Thinking of churches today, which message would you most likely find being preached: the message saying “Father God wants you to come home and celebrate;” or the message of the church’s self-righteousness, resentment, anger, condemnation, separation, and religion missing the celebration”?
Luke 15:32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because THIS BROTHER OF YOURS was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”
The father turned the angry son’s “this son of yours” (v30) to “this brother of yours.” I pray some of this has happened here. God will never allow us to forget about the lost and about giving mercy. Each of us knows someone who is relationally lost and relationally dead. What will we do about it? Leave the 99 other things going on in our lives and find them? Leave the 9 things we feel we’ve got to do and find them? Celebrate with Father in the presence of the angels of God with dancing you can hear? Or, will we pout, be angry, develop attitudes, and be out of touch and relationship with Father God?
Here’s how I want to end. I’ve given you the Prodigal Series card again. If you’ve already filled one out, that is great. Just hold the one you have. If not, please fill it out later. I have a little more to ask. Will you close your eyes for just a minute? Would you mentally bring someone into focus (not a family member) that is lost relationally with Father? Would you focus on your person for the next minute? Would you be willing to do God a favor and all of heaven a favor? Would you commit to intentionally, purposefully, with a plan, to get them someplace where they can hear the gospel? It might be your home, a Life Group, or here. If you will, who knows what God might do? “Delbert, you’re just trying to get more people to come.” Uhhhh, yes! Hello! Isn’t this what Jesus said do?
If each of us here invested in the life of one person imagine what could happen. If you can get them here, I’m good at presenting the gospel in a way it will make sense to them. Their children will love their classes. Life Groups discuss the gospel lesson. Can we partner together? We’ll do here what’s difficult for you – present the gospel in a way they can understand. You do what’s impossible for us – bring your person you are imagining. To do this you will need to be intentional. I mean intentionally daily pray asking for an opportunity to touch your person’s life. Intentionally think about this daily. If we will do this, heaven will be happy and celebrate life with us. If we don’t, we will become the older angry brother.
Jesus left the parable open-ended. I love it when Jesus does this. He allows us to write our own ending. Do you hear the music? Do you hear the dancing? Come on. We must celebrate and be glad. You were lost relationally, but now you’re found. You were dead relationally, but now alive again.