In this sermon, we delve into the parable of the two sons found in Matthew 21:28-32, focusing not on the prodigal younger son but on his older sibling. The central question posed by Jesus in this parable is, “Which son did the will of the Father?” This sermon explores the profound lessons within this parable, emphasizing the older son’s relationships with his father and his younger brother.
His Relationship with the Father
The parable illustrates the older son’s distant relationship with his father. While the father eagerly welcomed the prodigal son back with a grand feast, the older son’s response was telling. He did not approach his father directly but inquired about the commotion through a servant. This distance in their relationship reveals a lack of understanding of the father’s heart. The ideal relationship between a child and their Heavenly Father, as exemplified by Jesus, is one of unity and shared concerns (John 10:30). Contrary to this, some believers merely attend church without genuine interest in the Father’s desires or the church’s mission. They focus solely on their personal concerns and needs, neglecting the Father’s desires. The older son’s attitude mirrors this when he adopts a mindset of entitlement within the household, much like some churchgoers who believe God should be grateful for their presence.
His Relationship with the Brother
The older brother’s response to the celebration of his returning sibling exposes his jealousy and self-centeredness. He prioritizes the calf’s value over his brother’s return, highlighting his inability to rejoice in others’ success. This behaviour reflects the jealousy that can arise when people feel underappreciated in the church, leading some to consider leaving and returning only when recognized. The parable prompts us to consider whether our actions are driven by love for our brothers and sisters or by selfish ambition. The older son’s statement, “These many years I have served you,” portrays a mindset akin to that of a slave rather than a true son. Sons act out of love and understanding, while slaves follow commands. True sons, aware of the grace they’ve received, embrace responsibility and consider the church as their own home and kingdom work as their primary duty.
Sons vs. Slaves
The parable underscores the distinction between sons and slaves in their attitudes towards work. Slaves calculate their efforts, feeling entitled to rewards and complaining if they perceive injustice. In contrast, sons don’t tally their contributions because they recognize that all belongs to them. Believers who adopt a slave mentality may easily become disheartened and disgruntled, focusing on their own interests and desires rather than the Father’s will. As Christians, we are no longer slaves but sons of God, a status marked by a sense of responsibility and a deep connection to God’s work.
Conclusion: The father loved both sons
In conclusion, the parable of the two sons teaches us about our relationships with God and others. Regardless of whether we resemble the older or younger son, the Father’s love remains constant, and He eagerly awaits our return. Like the father in the parable, our Heavenly Father does not scold us for our wrong attitudes and mistakes but welcomes us back with open arms. Our sins are forgiven the moment we come to Him. The ultimate goal is to become mature spiritual firstborns who can care for and love our fellow believers. May we all strive to cultivate relationships with God and others that reflect the heart of our Heavenly Father.