7693 - Self Righteous

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We’re told God’s Word is sweeter than honey and drippings from the honeycomb. Together let’s taste a portion of His Word today.

In Luke 15, as the Lord Jesus was teaching, he came to the climax of the parable about the lost son. This son which was dead in relationship to his father had returned. In humility he had repented of his sin and failure. But even as he spoke the father was pouring out acts of love upon him. There was reconciliation. A celebration followed this joyful reunion.

Then Jesus continues with the parable by telling about the eldest son who had remained on the homeplace which now belonged to him.

Let me read Luke 15:25-32 and then we’ll talk more:
"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard 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 refused 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.'"

This passage about the older brother symbolizes the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. They had the same attitude toward the sinners who surrounded Jesus as the attitude of the older son toward his young brother.

The older son who had been working in the fields heard the sounds of festivity when approaching the house. There were sounds of music and dancing.

After getting a report about what was taking place this older son became angry. There was no joy, no compassion over the return of the younger son.
In the same way the Jewish leaders were angry with the message which Jesus was proclaiming throughout the land. They were offended that Jesus had extended the message of repentance and new life to people who were not Jewish. Pagans and Gentiles were being prepared for entry to the Kingdom. To the Jews this was unthinkable. Just to touch a Gentile rendered them unclean. How could they accept their entry into the family of God?

Notice the action of the father — the figure of Father God. He went out and appealed for the older son to join the celebration. To open his heart to family relations.

The father reminded the older son that everything I have is yours, since the father had divided his estate between the two boys.

Likewise, the Jewish leaders held onto the Old Testament record of the choosing of Israel out of all the people on the face of the earth to be his people (Deut. 7:6). Even though Israel had rejected God, these leaders arrogantly believed and taught that the kingdom was their possession.

Jesus dispels this notion for us as he says in Matthew (21:43): “I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”

By his life and death, Jesus broke down the wall of separation so that all people were welcomed into his kingdom. The Kingdom is open to all races, nations, and people groups. None are excluded.

The self-righteousness of the elder son is a direct reference to the Jewish leaders. The older son did not love his brother. The Jewish leaders did not love or relate to non-practicing Jews. The heart of the son was calloused, pointing to the hardened hearts of the Jewish leaders.

It is sad that the older son’s self-righteousness rendered him as lost to his father’s love as the young brother had been by his rebellion.

The older son had sought to please the father by good works, when love was the desire of the heart. Likewise between the Jewish leaders and God.