The Prodigal God: Younger Brother vs. Older Brother

Writing II-1st Younger Brother Sin vs. Older Brother Sin Luke 15:11-32 is one of the most famous parables in the Bible. It is the parable of the prodigal son. This parable is about a son who runs away with his inheritance, wastes all of it, and then comes back home to his father’s open arms. Tim Keller goes more in depth into this parable with his book The Prodigal God. In this book, Keller compares the two sons’ sins, “two brothers, each of whom represents a different way to be alienated from God, and a different way to seek acceptance into the Kingdom of heaven” (9).
Throughout the book, comparisons can be made between the younger brother’s sin and the older brother’s sin. The younger brother was selfish and wanted his inheritance immediately so that he can go party. The older brother follows all of the rules to get things and doesn’t want his brother to come back. Throughout The Prodigal God, comparison can made between the two brothers’ sin in that both of their intentions are selfish and they both want control. Tim Keller’s book is more than just discussing the parable of the prodigal son.
While the tradition seems to focus more on the younger brother and his sins, Keller goes more depth with the older brother and his faults, “Most readings of this parable have concentrated on the flight and return of the younger brother-the ‘Prodigal Son. ’ That misses the real message of the story, however, because there are two brothers, each of whom represents a different way to be alienated from God, and a different way to seek acceptance into the Kingdom of heaven” (9). The first way that the older brother and the younger brother’s sins are similar is that both of their intentions are selfish.

With the younger brother, he wanted his inheritance early so he could go and party. “The young man humiliates his family and lives a self-indulgent, dissolute life. He is totally out of control. He is alienated from his father. ” (39) This behavior showed he wanted freedom for himself and that he was impatient. Keller goes on to say that the younger brother thought of his relationship with his father as unimportant and he only wanted him for his possessions. He says that once he got tired of the relationship, he basically said that he was tired of it and he wanted out.
Even though the older brother is different, his sins are still of the same context. He obeys all of his father’s rules so that he appears to be a good son, yet he is only doing these things to take advantage of his father so that he can get what he wants. “Elder brothers obey God to get things. They don’t obey God to get God himself- in order to resemble him, love him, know him, and delight in him. So religious and moral people can be avoiding Jesus as Savior and Lord as much as younger brothers say they don’t believe in God and define right and wrong for themselves” (49).
The second way in which the younger brothers and the older brother’s sins are similar is that they both want control. “There are two ways to be your own Savior and Lord. One is by breaking all the moral laws and setting your own course, and one is by keeping all the moral laws and being very, very good. ” (50) Both brothers sought to control the father. The younger brother wants the inheritance to have control over his own life. “He wanted to make his own decisions and have unfettered control of his portion of wealth. (41) The younger brother felt he could handle is life without any help, but he needed earthly treasures so that he could feel powerful. The older brother is keeping all of the rules so that he can get his way with his father. “Elder brothers do good to others, but not out of delight in deeds themselves, or for the love of the people or the pleasure of God” (70). The older brother feels his obedience should keep his father obligated to him. When his father offers the younger brother forgiveness and a feast, the older brother is angry because he has lost control over his father.
The obedience the older brother kept for so many years seems to be futile. “It is impossible to forgive someone if you feel superior to him or her. ”(63) When looked at more closely, the younger brother and older brother show an unexpected similarity in their sins throughout the parable of the prodigal son. Keller states in his book The Prodigal God that the goal of this book is to lay the essentials of the gospel, and to either introduce or reassure the message of both this story and the gospel. This parable is thought of as one of the best readings in the Bible to help someone grasp the understanding of God’s love.

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