April 9, 2017

Angry at Grace
The Parable of the Older Brother

Luke 15:25-31 (NASB)

“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.

In Luke 15:2 the Pharisees and Scribes, the self-righteous legalists who professed to be the children of God, saw Jesus receiving publicans and sinners. They began accusing Him saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (v. 2). Everything that follows in Luke 15 is in response to this criticism. The three parables (the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son) reveal Jesus came to seek out sinners. The religious legalist is one who is righteous in his own eyes and thinks himself too holy, too spiritual, and too good to be loved by grace alone, entirely of the merits of Christ. The self-righteous person will not give up his own righteousness for the righteousness of Christ, and so will condemn others for their sins. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son who came home, there is an older brother who becomes very angry at grace.

  1. Those angry at grace are most often ignorant of grace.
    Grace is a word on the tongue, not a way of life. Grace is a song that is sung, but not seen in the soul. “Now his older son was in the field…” (v. 25). He was in the field “working.” Usually those who are angry at grace work – they work for righteousness, they work for God’s approval, they really work!
    1. Their joy comes from one’s personal performance, not grace.
      The older brother heard the music and dancing and asked “What are these things?” (v. 26). The symphony of grace is foreign to the ears of those ignorant of grace. How can this be? “Your brother has come home... father has killed the calf…and he has received him back” (v.27). John Gill comments “the preaching of the Gospel by the servants setting forth the love of God, the righteousness of Christ… Like music, it is delightful and charming; it is a sound of love in the Father, Son, and Spirit; of free grace, and rich mercy; of liberty, reconciliation, and forgiveness.” But the older brother is angry at grace because his younger brother did not deserve the favor.
    2. Their affection is pulled out by one’s contributions, not grace.
      But he became angry and was not willing to go in” (v. 28). Separation from God and His people is always a symptom of those who get angry with grace. The prodigal “came to his senses.” But the older brother could not rejoice over a sinner repenting because he never experienced this grace.
  2. Those angry at grace must show they are better than others.
    For so many years I have been serving you and I have never…but when this son of yours” (vs. 29-30).
    1. Comparing personal righteousness is self-righteousness.
      I’ve not neglected a command of yours…but he devoured your wealth with prostitutes” (v. 29).
    2. Contrasting temporal rewards is self-righteousness.
      I never neglected a command of yours, yet you have never given me a goat” (v. 29). When we start looking at someone’s life and questioning God for their “blessings,” we convey a belief that everything we receive is earned. Grace is grace because it is given without merit.
    3. Closing out others from your life is self-righteousness.
      But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes…” (v. 30). He didn’t say, “When MY BROTHER came home”? Separation is normal to those angry at grace.
  3. Those angry at grace are to be loved like the father loves his son.
    “Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours” (v. 31).
    1. Though his son separates, the father unites – “The father came out and pleaded” (v. 28).
    2. Though his son is angry, the father is gracious – “Son, all that is mine is yours” (v. 31).
    3. Though his son is ignorant, the father loves him – “You have always been with me” (v.31).

You can view the video for this sermon HERE.