The Real Older Brother

FRANKILIN, PA – There is nothing I love doing more than hanging out with folks for a few days sorting out the reality of what Father and Son did on the cross for us. We’re in an old castle on a hill in the woods of Western Pennsylvania that was built in the early 1900s by the man who invented kerosene. There’s just under 50 of us and we’ve had the whole week to refocus our life in God and to sort out what it means to live in his reality. It has been awesome. It always rekindles my passion to focus on these things.

This is a new group of folks for me. For forty years these people and their families have come together each summer to spend a week growing in some area of their spiritual life and fellowshipping together. They invited me to join them this week and share with them anything I felt led to share. What I love most is the questions people are asking both in sessions and at other times we’re just hanging around. The spiritual hunger is glorious, and the work Father is doing to free people into his life has been a joy to frolic in.

One of the things that has been fresh for me this week is thinking of the Parable of the Incredible Father (popularly known as The Prodigal Son.) We’ve looked at this parable with a different older brother. We not only looked at the Pharisee-son slaving on his father’s farm with anger and resentment that Jesus told about. We’ve also contemplated what this story would have been like with Jesus as the older brother. He is that, you know. He is the firstborn among many brothers and sisters who have been invited into his Father’s house.

If Jesus were the older brother in this story, how would he have felt about his younger brother? What might he have said to him when he reached rock bottom? How would he have made a way for this brother to come back home as a restored son and heir? That’s what Jesus did. Not only in his life here on earth, but continues to find us at our lowest, most broken moments, and invites us back to the Father’s house, where the table is set and the barbeque is blazing. It doesn’t take much imagination, because Jesus has already accomplished this in us who have found ourselves back home in the arms of a loving Father.

Well, gotta get back to the retreat as we finish up in the next twenty-four hours. Then it’s on to Youngstown, OH and some great friends there.

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