Famously known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15 tells the story of a repentant son to his merciful father. We can all see ourselves in the sinful yet contrite son and God the Father in the forgiving father. But, how many of you see yourself in the older brother?

The older brother gets angry when he finds out his father kills the fatted calf and holds a big celebration to welcome home his sinful brother. He is so angry he doesn’t even go inside to welcome him home and celebrate. When his father comes out to see him, he says,

“These many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a kid that I might make merry with my friends.”

The older brother looks good on the outside, but something is wrong on the inside. He does all the right things, but for the wrong motives. This is shown by his anger at mercy and forgiveness.

If I’m being honest, I see a lot of myself in the older brother. The following are sins and struggles we can uncover in his heart based on his reaction.

The older brother is legalistic. He thinks he has to earn the Father’s love through good works. He is prideful and struggles to rely on God or trust him entirely for all his needs. He is judgemental and labels others ‘unsavable’ or undeserving of God’s mercy if they aren’t as righteous as he. He is bitter and riddled with unforgiveness because he struggles to experience God’s mercy toward him. He wallows in self-pity and obsesses over how unfair his father has been toward him. He sees himself as a victim who suffers even though he does all the right things.

Above all, he is consumed by fear. A fear that he is not enough for God and that he will never be loved by God. That he will never please Him, because he is not perfect. These, and all of the above, are sins that keep us from experiencing a fulfilling relationship with God too. They are sinful obstacles that stop us from coming before God as humble, weak, reliant children.

God the Father is madly in love with you. We are all sinful and must rely totally on God’s love and mercy to be saved. No matter how holy you think you are, Jesus will never remove your need for him. Ever.