Cornerstone Community Church
A Tale of Two Brothers
Intro: A River Runs Through it is a tale of 2 brothers (responsible & reckless) ending tragically.
Big Idea: God rejoices when the rebellious & religious return to Him.
Context: Jesus’ ministry was characterized by many “sinners” turning from their sin and following Jesus. The religious leaders were not happy about this for some reason. Jesus tells a series of parables to try and help them understand God’s perspective.The Story: 2 brothers display 2 wrong ways to relate to their father.
- The younger son wants his inheritance NOW. He can’t wait until his father is dead.
- He seeks life in the freedom to do what HE wants. Not supposed to like him. Ill. Pitt
- Reckless, he used all the inheritance, & is destitute. He fed pigs- unclean animals.
- Sin => Misery But he “came back to himself” – he returned from sin’s insanity!
- He returned to work for his father, not to live at home as a son.
- The father runs to him, cleans him up & throws a great party to celebrate. Ill. Surf & turf
- The long robe and rings indicate he welcomes him as a son who’ll not do work.
- The older, or Presbyterian, son was not home at the time. He returns home from work.
- He asks the servant boys what is going on and gets the news flash. Happy?
- He is ANGRY, so angry he won’t even enter the house.
- The father comes out to encourage him to celebrate with everyone else. Ill. Holy Grail
- The older son lashes out. I SLAVED for you, and got nothing! Worse, loses inheritance.
- Self-righteousness => Misery The story ends abruptly. What did the older son do?The Meaning: God rejoices when sinners come home, the Pharisees aren’t doing either.
- The young son represents the “tax collectors and sinners”. They are responding to Jesus.
- In faith, they repent and are welcomed by God with great rejoicing. Aside: atonement
- When rebels repent & believe, they are made right with God & given status as sons.
- So great are the blessings of the gospel available to all rebels who will believe.
- The older son represents the Pharisees, rejecting the message of grace (15:2).
- They are angry that God offers the same blessings to rebels. They deserve better!
- The abrupt ending puts the ball in their court: will you rejoice with the Father?
The Application: People run from God by either license or legalism.
- The parable reveals 2 ways to run from God: license or legalism; rebellion & religion.
- Rebels: salvation is found in freedom, license, to do whatever they want.
- They prefer the pleasures of sin, until they experience the misery of sin. Ill. Paul’s death
- Religious people: salvation is in legalism- keeping the rules. Ill. RRTI- Art => grace
- Proud of their goodness, they reject Jesus’ substitutionary obedience & death. Ill. Luther
- They make an idol of their own righteousness. This is the default mode of MOST people.
- Some see their failure to be good enough, and think God gave up on them long ago.
- Some do a great job externally. They are decent people- hard for them to see their need.
- Even after conversion, we are prone to run from God. Ill. Amie running away
- Our default mode is to run the same way we did before our conversion. Ill. Barb
- Sometimes, we run the other way. Particularly addicts. Ill. AA meeting
- Religious churches run off rebels, even if they try to return home. Impede evangelism.
- Which are you? Follow the anger. Restricting freedom? Rebel. Deserve better?
Conclusion: A Tale of 2 brothers is really a tale about each of us. We are one of those 2 brothers. Some of you have never stopped running from God. Some of us run away from home periodically. The danger is to not know which of them we are, so we can quickly see when we are running. The Father rejoices when we come home, no matter how long we’ve been gone. Will you remain in your rebellion or religiosity- or will you enter the Feast?
“Something inside of us strongly compels us to keep trying to earn God’s approval. We look for good works, in which we can place our trust and which will bring us praise. We want to show God what we have done… None of us should be overconfident when it comes to forgetting our own good works. Each one of us carries in our heart a horrible, religious fanatic. … We should realize that we all carry in our heart a horrible, religious fanatic, who will destroy faith with foolish delusions of good works. … God’s approval doesn’t come to us by what we do. Rather it comes through the holiness of Christ, who suffered for us and rose again from the dead.” Martin Luther
”Therefore we make this definition of a Christian: a Christian is not he who has no sin, but he to whom God does not impute his sin, through faith in Christ. That is why we so often repeat and beat it into your minds, the forgiveness of sins and imputation of righteousness for Christ’s sake.” Martin Luther
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