Wednesday, April 23, 2008


A Commentary on The Elder Brother
I have always loved to meditate on Luke 15 as no other portion of Scripture. I am sure I am not alone. Things said here are found nowhere else in the Gospels. Reading through John MacArthur's new book, A Tale of Two Sons (Nelson, 2008), reminded me anew of the power of the three parables related here (some say it is really only one parable). But rather than commenting now on either the sheep, the silver, or the son (all three lost, but found), let us look briefly at "The Elder Brother" in the closing, Luke 15:25-32.

First, notice that this brother called his returned, prodigal brother, "This thy son" (v. 30). This is in contrast to what his father called him, "This my son" (v. 24), and "This thy brother" (v. 32). The stay-at-home brother did not say, "This my brother has returned," but "This thy son came."
A. T. Robertson points out that this is "contempt and sarcasm." And the elder brother says "came" (Greek, elthen), not "came back" or "came home." That tells you a lot about this brother's true attitude, and what Christ is picturing for us about the hyper-religious Jews of that day.

Going back to the beginning of the chapter (which we always must do), we read of the "murmuring" of "the scribes and Pharisees," after seeing "the publicans and sinners drawing near" to our Lord, "to hear Him" (vv. 1-2). Note these two classes here: (1) Proclaimed sinners draw near to hear; (2) Religious hypocrites crowd around to jeer. The same still occurs today all across the world. One teacher, but two crowds. Some listen with open ears, others mock and murmur at those who do. Still, these Pharisees proclaim the pure gospel unknowingly, don't they? Listen to them: "This Man RECEIVES sinners, and eats with them." That is the glorious truth of the one, true gospel, straight from the lips of proud, self-righteous Pharisees! The Lord Jesus Christ is the true friend and Savior of ALL "poor" sinners, then, now, and always.

Secondly, note that this elder brother says something he does not know to be true. He states, "This thy son came, who has devoured thy living with harlots" (v. 24). How did he know that? Verse 13 may mean that, but at the time he could not have known that to be true. And, isn't this the sad case with a lot of religious people? They speak things and say things that are NOT always true. The Pope of Rome goes around advocating "The Worship of Mary," and newsmen and quasi-religious people think it is so. People see "ministers of the gospel" living in luxury, while condemning others, and every Christian and minister is lumped into the same pot with all "the hypocrites." Hypocrisy takes on many forms, and a multitude of shades. Beware of it, dear brethren. This elder brother may not have gone to the "harlots," but he too was "eaten up" with bad attitudes and a cold, loveless heart.

Thirdly, Why does this story about the prodigal and his brother end so abruptly? It seems so on purpose. Sin in sinners, even religious sinners, is an awful affront against the holiness of Almighty God. And where do we come in here? We are one of these two brothers. And note that the father (representing Christ) speaks lovingly even to this elder son, calling him Teknon, "Child" (or "Son") in verse 31. Again, to quote A. T. Robertson: "A real father could do no less. One can well imagine how completely the Pharisees and scribes were put to silence by these three marvellous parables. The third does it with a graphic picture of their own attitude in the case of the surly elder brother."

Meditate long on the above main thoughts. Plus, take just a moment to think on these precious words, which must have made this elder brother very "angry" (v. 28): "Music and Dancing" (v. 25), and "Safe and Sound" (v. 27). There is truly much to "celebrate" in the gospel of God's wondrous grace! So the main point here is to truly "rejoice" with those "in heaven" that "dead, lost" sinners have amazingly "come to life" and have been "found." All glory to King Jesus!

Saturday, April 12, 2008



“He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona:for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:15-17).
The most important question you could ever be asked is simply this: Do you in reality know the living Christ? The question is not, Are you religious? — Are you a church member? — Do you read the Bible? You may be very religious, yet not know Christ in the heart. You may be a loyal church member, a regular reader of God's Word, a person who “says” their prayers, or one who loves to study religious books and doctrine. But, these soul-searching questions still remain — Have you ever seen yourself a lost, vile sinner before a holy God? Have you ever been stripped of your self-righteousness and laid low in the dust of humility? Have you ever viewed by faith the glorious person of the Lord Jesus Christ, all because of a direct and personal revelation to you of God the Holy Ghost?

Sinner friend, I plead with you to not be deceived. Do not rest in your religious creeds, your attendance of religious worship, your so-called righteous acts. Rest only in Christ! Look only to Him! Be not content with any religion if Christ is not the center and substance of it! Do not be deceived by man-made religion! Seek that which comes by divine revelation, as that which Simon Peter had in the opening Scripture. Simon was blessed to know who Christ was by a personal revelation to Him of God the Father! This must also be true of us.

If Christ Jesus is not known to you by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, He is not known as the very wellspring of blessedness to the soul. If you only know Jesus by no more than the world knows, than the learned among men know, you have not the real blessing. If you only know the Lord of glory by what you have found out yourself, in reading or in talking to others, unaided by the Father's drawing power, you are not blessed with true salvation. If you know no more of Christ than what flesh and blood has revealed to you, you are nothing more than a Pharisee or Sadducee — religious, but lost without God — a separatist or a rationalist, but not a recipient of revelation and regeneration. May the eternal Jehovah reveal to you your true and undone condition before Him!

Among the vast religious throngs of this earth there is to be found the true people of God. These chosen of the Father are also redeemed by the Son, and quickened by the Spirit. The elect of God know by deep acknowledgment of their sin that they are blind and ignorant by nature. The true children of God have been made humble; they confess their total dependence upon the grace and mercy of Christ, and place their entire confidence and faith in his meritorious righteousness and shed blood. In the Lord Jesus Christ alone do “We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

Reader, what do you know of this once-crucified, yet now living Christ? Does His name bring gladness to your heart? Do you love the fragrance of His person? Is He more than just a religious leader to you? Beware of misty and cloudy views of King Jesus! Beware that you only have a head knowledge of Him!Make sure that Christ is your Surety, your Substitute, your Sacrifice, your Savior. Beware of any religion which belittles Him, or that does not exalt Him as the only way to God.

Do you believe in Jesus by an inward discernment of Him? Do you clearly see Him as the Son of man and the Son of God? Is he definitely your Lord and Savior, your propitiation (satisfaction) before God? If you know Him thus you have not learned this by the instruction of men. You have had a direct and personal revelation made to you and in you by the Father concerning who Jesus Christ really is (Gal 1:16).

It is only when the Lord Himself deals with you, taking you in His powerful hand, that you are truly taught who Christ is. You may have heard about Jesus, but you only know Him as “the Son of the living God” when illuminated and quickened by God the Spirit. Jesus came forth from God, and the power to know Christ comes forth from God also. If you have Christ, you have the new birth! If you have Christ, you have eternal life! If you have not Christ, you have nothing but dead, lifeless, counterfeit religion! Said our blessed Master: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). May divine power draw you this day, poor sinner! May you see Christ in all His beauty! May you come to worship and serve only Him! Christ is to be seen, but in the light which He himself supplies. May that light shine unto you even now, and to our glorious God be all the glory!