Luke 15:24-32


“For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.  And they began to be merry.  Now his elder son was in the field:  and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.  And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.  And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.  And he was angry, and would not go in:  therefore came his father out, and intreated him.  And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:  but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.  And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.  It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad:  for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”


“We’re in Luke, chapter 16.  We finished chapter 15, in one sense.  And I want to back up and look at a portion of it.  ‘Father we settle our hearts as we continue.  We thank you for the freedom that we have to study your Word.  Lord, we never, Father, mean to take for granted the bounty, Lord, that you have placed on this nation.  Lord, whatever hardship we face, Lord, we think of those in so many other parts of the world, Lord, that live day to day, not knowing if their children will survive the day, or if their own lives will survive the day, not knowing where the next meal will come from, or if they’ll ever get in from the cold or the heat, Lord, if their sickness will ever go away, if they’ll ever have clean water, if they’ll ever have an antibiotic.  Father we know that many of them are believers, so Lord we thank you for your blessing on our lives, our homes, our clothing, the present prosperity that we experience, Father.  And we ask as we have opportunity to study your Word, that Lord you would continue to do a deep work within our hearts, Lord.  Prepare us for whatever lies ahead of us until you come, and Lord, use these times we have together publicly to continue to conform us into the image of your Son.  Father, each of us is aware of so much that needs to change, Lord, we are aware of those sins that so easily beset us.  But Lord we have greater confidence in you than in ourselves.  And because of the price that your Son paid for us in his own blood because you have proclaimed over our lives that we are justified, sanctified, and glorified, because you’re the God that calls things that are not as though they were, Lord we rejoice this evening.  As we look into your Word, we pray that we might behold wonders there, that we might love Jesus more when we leave than when we came, Father, we pray in his name, amen.’


The Parable Stated, Now As The Parable of the Elder Brother


Let me begin reading in verse 11 of chapter 15, and we’ll just read through this.  Two weeks ago we looked at this parable of the prodigal son, that’s the name that we know it by.  “And he said, A certain man had two sons:  and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.  And he divided unto them his living.  And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.  And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.  And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.  And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat:  and no man gave unto him.  And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!  I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son:  make me as one of thy hired servants.  And he arose, and came to his father.  But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.  And his son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.  But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:  and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:  for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.  And they began to be merry.  Now his elder son was in the field:  and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.  And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.  And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.  And he was angry, and would not go in:  therefore came his father out, and intreated him.  And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:  but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.  And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.  It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad:  for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found” (verses 11-32).  So, we looked at this in the context of Jesus eating with tax gatherers and sinners, remember.  And the Pharisees, the religious leaders are criticizing him for eating with tax gatherers and sinners.  Now of course, that’s because they didn’t realize that they were sinners too.  And Jesus had two choices, eat with sinners or eat alone.  And I’m glad he’s chosen to eat with sinners.  And in light of their criticism he tells the parable of the lost sheep, and the joy in heaven when one sinner comes.  And he tells the parable of the lost coin, and joy in heaven when one sinner comes.  And then he tells this parable that we call the parable of the prodigal son.  And I think we could really spend three weeks here, we could do one study as “the parable of the prodigal son,” we could do one week as “the parable of the father’s heart,” and we could do one week as “the parable of the older brother.”  And we don’t want to miss that portion, because it is told in the context of the criticism of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  So yes it is the parable of the prodigal son, and prodigal means wasteful, this wasteful son.  But it is also the parable probably more properly of the older brother, because it’s told to the Pharisees and Sadducees who are portrayed in the parable as the older brother.  And the thing that we have to realize as we look at that, I think, is they are also prodigals, they are also wasting something, and I think they’re also at a distance from the Father’s heart.  I think the older brother with his judgmental attitude, and his unwillingness to rejoice, heaven is rejoicing when one sinner comes, his unwillingness to rejoice is as much a grief to the father’s heart as the son who had turned away. 


The Elder Brother---Backslidden Into Legalism


And any parent brokenhearted about a child that’s gone into the world, taking drugs, prostitutes, that kind of thing, that brokenheartedness, I think there is a brokenheartedness that’s just as painful if we see one of our children backslide into legalism.  And you see, we can backslide forward, or we can backslide backward.  No doubt the natural inclination is toward the world, because of the lust of the flesh Satan works patiently and steadily to throw some bait before us, that would cause us to fall back into our old ways.  But he’s also wise enough to know that if we won’t fall back, we’ll fall forward.  [Now let me say this about that.  Due to their very nature of adhering to God’s Sabbath Command, as a part of being obedient to the Ten Commandments, Sabbath-keepers are often mistakenly lumped in with all legalists.  They can be legalists, or they can also be grace-oriented.  It depends, as it does with all of us, on their attitude toward others who don’t believer or practice as they do.  If their attitude is one of being judgmental toward those others who don’t believe or practice as they do, then, yes, they fall into the category of being legalistic.  It has nothing to do with their adherence to the Sabbath Command or Old Testament Holy Days, it has everything to do with their attitude toward others, just like the Pharisees and scribes, the doctors of the Law in Christ’s day.  Christianity is not lawless, as Paul warned in Galatians 5:19-23, but as Paul clearly showed in those same verses, we obey through the grace of God with the help of his indwelling Holy Spirit, as Pastor Chuck Smith even related in a comment section of the Word For Today Study Bible.  See for a complete treatment of this oft misunderstood subject.]  And because there’s also within all of our hearts the potential to play this role of the older brother, where, you know, when we get saved, we’re amazed with God’s grace, we’re amazed that he received us, we’re amazed that he’s taken us out of the world, out of drugs, wherever our background is or however we were saved, we’re just amazed that he receives us freely and loves us with all of our flaws, and makes that commitment to us, to work within us and change us, and we’re amazed with his love and his salvation.  And yet I think sometimes then as we go on with the Lord, and we become an older brother or older sister, sometimes when we see someone else walking in sin [and I might add, that ‘walking in sin’ may be our perceived interpretation of sin], or walking away from the Lord, and we look at them, and our sins look so much worse on them, the things that we struggle with in our own hearts, that they have just gone further in the struggle, they’re working them out in their life, you know, they look so much worse on them.  And we see someone sinning and they’re living immorally, or they’re causing problems, and they’re grieving the Spirit, and we don’t even want to be around them sometimes, like this prodigal younger son, they’ve lost their mind. It says he “came to his senses”, that means he had lost them for awhile.  And we look at their lives [these others that are doing worse than we are spiritually], and then all of a sudden they come back to church, they come back to the Lord, and we see them a week later, walking down the hall, carrying their Bible saying ‘Praise the Lord, Hallelujah’, and we’re thinking ‘Wait a minute, you ain’t coming back that easy.’  [laughter]  You know, ‘Lord, can’t you just make them grovel a little?’  We don’t want to just rejoice with the Father’s heart that somebody was lost and is found again.  We kind of can get that attitude of ‘Lord, when he seeks your face, and finally sees it again, just put a little bit of a scowl there, just a little bit of a Mmmn, I knew you’d be back look, let ‘em know that it ain’t that easy, the price you paid with the blood of Christ, and he took that for granted, just kind of twist that a little bit, and make him a little miserable, and let him turn his Bible to Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10, and you know, the blasphemy of the Spirit, just let him struggle and sweat for awhile!  It’s not fair that he just can walk back in.’  You can’t understand that?  [loud laughter]  [Comment: I can understand that, I’ve been the recipient of attitudes like that, and it hurts when they were coming from longstanding friends in the Lord.  I know whole churches that are like that, not grace oriented, not agape-oriented.  They tend to be ‘Old Wineskin churches and people,’ not New Wineskin churches and people.  See for an explanation of this.  This subject is important, it is a major area Jesus wants all the churches to grow in.  That is why Pastor Joe was inspired to go back into these verses for a second week.  If your church has this wrong attitude, and isn’t changing, get out of it, go find a New Wineskin type church that matches up with your secondary belief system of theology.  If your church is in the process of changing and becoming a new wineskin through revival, stay with it, and loyally support it, even if they’re not quite there yet.  Take this message to heart.]  I think we all can understand that, because there’s a potential in all of our hearts to be that “older brother.”  And I think that’s the other side of the parable, and particularly if we have been injured by the person that’s done it.  And God, according to his Word, has forgiven them, if the repentance is genuine.  But we find that we kind of want to treat a rebel a little bit differently than God, we want to just test them a little, poke ‘em and see if it’s real before we let our walls down, ‘You know, this sinner’s got to grovel a little before he get’s back in here.  You know, can’t we make him take a lie-detector test before he comes back to church?  I know that needle’s gonna jump!’  And it’s sad. 


Pride of Obedience and a Judgmental Attitude Always Isolates


Verses 24-25, the father says, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.  And they began to be merry.  Now his elder son was in the field:  and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.”  This older son is a worker.  They must have been dancing if he could hear it.  He can hear the music.  If he could hear the feet hitting the floor, they’re dancing.  “And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.”  He didn’t even know what having fun was.  ‘What are these sounds?’  “And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.”  He wasn’t watching for him, he didn’t care if he came back.  There’s only two people that weren’t happy when the younger brother came back, one was the older brother, the other was the fatted calf.  [laughter]  “thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.  And he was angry, and would not come in:  therefore came his father out, and intreated him.”  This is maybe one of the most remarkable lines in the parable, “therefore came his father out, and intreated him”, he begged him.  Isn’t it interesting, he, the older brother, was angry.  And because he was angry, he said ‘I’m NOT going in!  I’m not going to be part of this, I’m not going to have fun!  I’m not going to be happy he’s back!’  You know, pride [in this case, pride of obedience] always isolates.  A judgmental attitude isolates.  And the elder brother ends up standing outside.  You know, now we can see two people I think in this older brother, one is a believer, who figures ‘I’ve worked in the field, I’ve worked for my Father, I’ve kept his commandments, I’ve done all this, and you know, this guy, he’s just blown everything, and this is this easy, why should I even try?  I should go out and sleep with prostitutes and he’ll have a party for me.  It’s not fair!’  Or it can be, the unbeliever, whose religious.  You know, Paul tells us in 1st Corinthians verse 23 that Jesus Christ was a stumbling block to the Jew, because they had kept the Law their whole life, they kept the dietary laws, they had gone to the Temple, they had kept the Feasts, they had done so much, and all of a sudden Christ was coming, and Gentiles now were being saved, people that had partaken of blood in the pagan temples and strange sacrifices of strange animals, lived with temple prostitutes and sexual sin, and all of a sudden they’re walking into the Kingdom saying ‘Because of Jesus, I’m saved.’  [Comment:  The early Church didn’t start out right away with a huge number of Gentiles coming into it, and those Gentiles that were coming into the early Church were the “God-fearers,” who had been attending in the Jewish synagogues throughout the Diaspora, with a few exceptions, like the Corinthian church of God.  See: for a good historic research paper about this period of time.  But his point is well taken, for even in the beginning, it was the common irreligious Jewish people, even in Judea, who were answering the call and coming into the early Church in droves.  Matthew Levi, a tax collector, and author of the Gospel of Matthew is an example of the type of person entering into the early New Testament church of God.]  And I think, you know, in my generation and your generation, I think there’s whole churches that almost have taken a position of the older brother [and very sadly, most of the Sabbath-keeping Church of God denominations fall into this category].  When the Jesus Movement that I was involved in [ie the start of the Calvary Chapel movement], late 60s, early 70s, the older church members kind of stood there and said, ‘They’re coming in!?  They’re coming into church with bare feet!  If they’re Christians, they’ll cut their hair!  Who do they think they are, coming in here looking like that?’  And you know what, there’s people like that now, not genuine believers [or they could be, but those in the legalistic churches, the Old Wineskins], and you know what?  They say ‘I’m not coming in!  If that’s what it’s all about, that place is a cult!  I ain’t coming in.’  And we say, ‘No, no, it’s the Gospel.  Whomsoever will may come,’ just the miracle of it all is that he takes us wherever we are, he looks past our clothes and our hairdo and our age and, you know, our culture, and he looks past that and he sees our heart.  That’s what the Bible says, he sees the inner man, and he rejoices when a heart turns towards him.  And yet there’s some people that can’t see that, they’re not willing to receive that, and because of that they’re not coming into the Kingdom that you and I talk about.  ‘I’ve gone to church my whole life, I’ve put the offering envelopes in, I helped install the stained glass windows, I put the carpets in, I put the pews in, and I’m going to heaven because of all the good stuff that I do.’  And you say, ‘No, no, no, no, you’re going to go to hell.’  [laughter]  ‘You need to accept Jesus as your Saviour, all of that other stuff in life is filthy rags, the Bible says, it’s all self-righteousness.’  But there’s people who say, “I’m not coming in!  I’m not coming into that!’  And as I look at the older brother, I think you know he’s either a believer who is self-righteous and judgmental, he can play that role, or he’s a nonbeliever, who doesn’t understand the Gospel, who only understands religion, and religious works, not grace. 


The Elder Brother Can’t Even Hear Joy, Let Alone Experience It


The father, remarkable, goes out and begs him, the father doesn’t leave them, the father loves the older brother as much as he loves the prodigal son that had gone and sinned.  The father, the same love that caused him to run to that prodigal that came back from the drunkenness and harlotry, he ran to him, threw his arms around him and wept and put on him a new robe and a new ring, which means he restored him as an heir again, and put new shoes on his feet, the same love that was extended to you and I, is extended to this older brother---whether he is a judgmental Christian that just needs to come back and realize God’s love all over again, or whether he’s a nonbeliever who has only known religion, and who has really done his best, and is really thinking willingly, ‘I have never done these things.’  Remarkable, the father goes out to that person and begs, God Almighty, begging, wooing, drawing.  Maybe if you’re an older brother tonight, maybe that’s happening in your heart.  Verse 29 says, “He answered and said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee,”---“slaved for you” literally, sounds like a fun relationship with God, ‘I slaved for you’---“neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:…”  Notice what he said here, ‘thou never gavest me.’  Look over to verse 12, that’s what the younger son said, ‘Father, give me my portion.’  Now it’s the older son saying the same thing, ‘thou never gavest me.’  His heart’s the same, ‘Thou never gavest me even a goat, you gave him the fatted calf…that I might make merry with my friends.’  “But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf” (verses 29-30).  Notice, not “my brother,” but “thy son”.  “And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.  It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad:  for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found” (verses 31-32).  Notice, “thy brother,” notice, the father corrects him, “was dead, and is alive.”  He was lost, and he’s found.  You know, the older brother can’t even hear joy, let alone experience it.  It freaks him out to just to hear somebody happy in Christ [know any PJL’s, prunyfaced judgmental legalists like that?  I do].  You know, he comes home and there’s music and dancing, that’s like some people come here and they see the drums and the guitars, it freaks them out just to hear joy, let alone experience it, they can’t even hear joy, it drives them crazy.  [Pastor Joe is referring to their Praise & Worship music which comes before and after the sermon.]  ‘They’re happy, they can’t be Christians!’  [laughter] 


We Have To Watch Out For That Elder Brother Who Lives Inside Of All Of Us


Now, for the older brother in me and you, the older brother that would tend to forget that we are dependent on the same grace that someone who just got saved depended on, or someone who just got restored is dependent upon.  Titus says, ‘That the grace of God hath appeared, bringing us unto salvation, teaching us that denying ungodly lusts and desires, that we should live in this present world, looking for and hastening unto the blessed coming of God our Saviour.’  Paul, writing to Titus says, ‘Grace is this, grace saves us, grace keeps us, and grace takes us home.’  We are as dependent upon the grace of God today, being saved 20 or 30 years, as we were dependent on it the second we came to Christ.  We are dependent upon his grace and his strength and his Spirit and his Word to keep us in our journey, not just the moment we became saved.  When we see a backslider come back, we have to be careful and guard against that older brother inside of us, because the father’s saying to this older son, ‘All that I have is thine, the same grace that’s extended to the younger son is the same grace that was his, and the same grace that we have to depend on.’  I am as dependent on the grace of God now, as I was when I got saved.  It is still his grace.  No flesh will glory in his presence, the Bible says.  We will stand before him in that day, you know, on a Sea of Glass, it says, and fire around his throne, with the angels and all the saints from all the ages, singing his praises.  And nobody is gonna say ‘I bet they’re glad I’m here.’  Nobody’s going to say, ‘That sucker over there really needed God’s grace,  but, you know, I only needed a little to get in.’  All crowns are going to be thrown at his feet, all praise and glory is going to go to him.  And no flesh is going to glory in his presence.  So, yeah, it’s the parable of the prodigal son, but it’s the parable of the father’s heart, who is as broken toward a wayward son in sin, as he is toward a wayward son in self-righteousness and legalism, and it’s the parable of a father’s heart that will run to that son returning from sin, and will go out to that stubborn judgmental brother or sister who is refusing to soften and rejoice that that which was lost is found---the father goes out and begs.  And it’s the parable of the older brother, who is in need of as much grace as the younger brother that returns.  So, you know, a challenge.  Don’t let your love turn into discernment.  You know, when you first get saved, you watch people that are in love with the Lord, they’re excited, they go to church, they can’t believe what’s going on.  And then somehow I think as we get older in Christ, we kind of say things like, ‘You know what I discern about that guy?’  Now, add discernment to your love.  The spiritual man discerns all things, we should grow, we should mature.  But I pray that if you’re discerning something about someone, it’s so you can pray for them, it’s so you can see how much they need encouragement, it’s so that you can go and speak the truth to them in love.  I pray that you add to the love of Christ in your life discernment.  That’s a good thing.  But don’t replace love with discernment. 


Related links:


Examples of denominational older brothers, verses a “new wineskin” work of God.  See:



The cure for PJL’s, Elder Brothers and Sisters Syndrome, EBSS, God’s agape-love in our hearts.  See:



Luke 16:1-15


Securing the Future With the Present


“Chapter 16 says “And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.”---now this is the same word over in chapter 15, verse 13 where it says ‘the prodigal “wasted” his father’s goods.’  Now Jesus is going to put it in another term now. Now he’s going to put it in a framework of stewardship, but he’s going to again talk about prodigals, in the sense of stewardship.  Same people gathered round, same house, evidently he’s still speaking to these Pharisees---“And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee?  give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.  Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship:  I cannot dig;”---I don’t want to do manual labour---“to beg I am ashamed.  I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.  So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?  And he said unto him, An hundred measures of oil.  And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.  Then said he to another, And how much owest thou?  And he said, An hundred measures of wheat.  And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.  And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely:  for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.  And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations” (verses 1-9).  Now one of the problems we have with this is it seems in this parable that we have the lord of the vineyard, who evidently is in the parable again a picture of the Lord, commending the unjust steward for being a crook.  And we look at that, and it doesn’t make sense as we look at it.  Now I want to say this, right off the bat, he’s commending him for acting wisely, he’s commending him for acting quickly, he’s commending him for securing the future with the present.  That’s what this is about.  As we look at it, you know, to you and I as we read through it, immediately we think ‘This guy’s a scoundrel.’  We’re not exactly sure, to be very honest.  In that day, often a land-owner in Israel, could have had very large vineyards and fields, at different places in the inheritance from his tribe.  And one of the things that a wealthy man would do, would sometimes be to hire a steward to manage all of his estates.  Remember how it says Potipher had put Joseph in position to manage his house, and Joseph was so faithful and God blessed him so much, that it came to the point that Potipher didn’t even know what was of his own wealth and of his own riches, because he had left everything in Joseph’s hand.  Well the situation here may be that this steward is managing the fields for this wealthy land-owner.  And what he’s doing, bills were not due yet, so he’s saying to someone that they let the vineyard out to, the olive groves, he says to that person, ‘In the harvest season, you owe me a hundred barrels of oil.’  Now we don’t know, but the land-owner may have only required fifty, and this guy is really jacking up the prices, he’s managing these fields.  That he’s saying to the person that has rented the field to raise grain, he may be saying, ‘When harvest comes, you owe me a hundred bushels of wheat,’ when he may only owe 80 to the land-owner himself.  Those are the kinds of details we don’t have, and that is some of the things that happened in that culture.  We know that God would never be commending anyone for being a crook, or being a sneak, or being deceitful.  So we’re left looking at two things.  Perhaps it’s a scenario where this steward himself was raking money off the top.  You know, the tax gatherers were hated by the Jews because they charged the tax that Rome demanded, and then anything on top of that they could get out of the people they could keep for themselves.  So they charge exorbitant taxes sometimes.  Possibly, this steward is doing that to the people that have rented out the fields and vineyards, charging more than the land-owner himself had asked for, and now that the land-owner has come to him, and says, ‘Hey, I hear you’re a crook, hand in the books.’  He runs quickly to these people and says ‘Forget it, you don’t owe me a hundred barrels of oil, you owe me fifty, forget it, you don’t owe me a hundred bushels of wheat, you only owe me eighty.’  Doing that, knowing then that those people he’s forgiving debt to will be indebted to him.  Then he knows when he gets kicked out, he can go to them and say, ‘Hey, remember I cut you some slack, cut your bill down there, I need a place to stay for a couple weeks, can you put me up?’  Now that’s what we see happening here.  This person realizes, you know, the future begins to come to bear and bring a pressure on his life.  And the Lord is saying that for you and I, the Bible is written out clearly that there will be a day of reckoning, there will be a day when we give account for our stewardship.  And sometimes, you know, as Christians we’re so caught up in this world, so caught up in the material that we can really be exorbitant, we can really just kind of rally around the temporary things and we find that our lives are there [all wrapped up in those things], and all of a sudden when a hardship comes or cancer comes, or difficulty comes, something comes in our life, all of a sudden, the future lights up again and begins to bring pressure again on our lives, and we realize, ‘Wait a minute, this is temporary, wait a minute, one day we will all stand before God and give an account, wait a minute, the future is a reality.’  And as Christians, we should live with that.  And for you and I you have to understand, the future is what the Bible calls “the Blessed Hope of the believer.”  We know it isn’t the big uh-oh, it’s the blessed hope.  If you’re living your life as a Christian with the big uh-oh in front of you, you’re in compromise, you’re in sin somewhere, you’re doing something where you’re thinking ‘Uh-oh, I hope he doesn’t come now.’  Because if you do your best, and you walk in the light, and you stay current in your prayer-life, you stay current in your confession, when you sin you confess your sin, you know he’s faithful and just to forgive you, if you stay before him, and you walk “in the light.”  And that’s not how you walk, it’s where you walk.  Then you look forward to his coming.  Then you can have that attitude, ‘Lord Jesus come quickly!  The kingdom of heaven is going to be so much better than this existence, Lord, come.’  But even in light of that, you and I are stewards, and it tells us that throughout the Scripture. 


We Are Stewards Over Material Resources


We are stewards over material resources, whether it’s our money, and here it speaks of the unrighteous mammon.  Paul and Peter call it filthy lucre.  And the Bible in regards to money itself, ascribes to it all of the evil that we see in the world, it centers around money, there’s prostitution, or selling drugs, or huge multi, multi billionaires who have enough money so they start to want power, and there’s all kinds of injustices suffered then on the part of other people, because they want to start to control things.  But you and I are stewards of physical resources in the material world.  You and I are stewards of time.  And believe me, when I read this I get convicted.  I could be a better steward of time.  It tells us in Ephesians chapter 5, verses 15 to 17 that we should be redeeming the time, walking circumspectly, and it means buying up every opportunity.  And you know, sometimes I get an opportunity to be alone and quiet, and all I want to do is spazz out, I just want to sit somewhere and in front of the tube, maybe channel-surfing, I just want to, I feel like my brain is fried, and I know it would be better for me to go fall on my knees somewhere…or I know it would be better to call somebody, and say ‘Hey, can I pray for you?’  We’re stewards over time.  We’re stewards over the Gospel, the Bible tells us that you and I are able ministers of the New Testament, and that that treasure has been placed in earthen vessels so that the glory might be of God and not of man, 2nd Corinthians 4, verse 7.  So we’re stewards of that.  It’s interesting, because remember, Jesus said of John the Baptist, “Of those that are born among women, not a greater has arisen than John.”  In fact he’s going to say here in chapter 16, verse 16 “that the law and the prophets were until John.”  John was the last of the Old Testament prophets.  And Jesus says he’s greater than any prophet that ever lived, greater than David, greater than Abraham, greater than Elijah.  And yet, John 10, I think verse 40 says he did no sign, he didn’t do any miracles, the greatness of his ministry was because he could point the finger directly at Jesus and say “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”  And yet the Bible says you and I, “he who is least in the Kingdom is greater than John.”  Because we have greater clarity in regards to the person of Christ than John the Baptist did.  Because he would say, “Are you the one that we should seek, or is there another?”  You and I know John’s mistake as he sat in prison.  We have greater clarity, so we’re stewards over the Gospel of Christ.  We’re stewards over our gifts and our abilities.  It says that we’ve been given gifts, 1st Peter chapter 4, verse 10 I think, and that we’re stewards over the manifold grace of God. 


We Should Use the Present to Secure the Future


And what it’s saying here is, that we should use the present to secure the future.  Look at what it says in verse 8, “The lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely” because he was shrewd, and here’s what he says, “for the children of” King James says “this world” it’s eon, this age, “the children of this age are in their generation wiser than the children of light.”   What he’s saying is, that worldly people are wiser and more street-smart about using the present to secure the future than the children of light.  That people in this world are out investing, and they’re laying up, and want to retire when they’re 30, and they give themselves wholeheartedly to going to college or to the stock market, or even running on the streets selling drugs, trying to become a millionaire.  He says the children of this age, in comparison to the age to come, are wiser in their generation, but only in their generation, because they don’t see the eternal, but they’re wiser in their generation than the children of light.  Because look at the way worldly people labour to secure the future with the present.  Look at all the crazy stuff they’ll do and all the extremes they’ll go to, to lay up for the future, and to try to secure the future.  [My father did that with stocks and bonds, which secured my mother’s financial future after he died of cancer, and he did a very good job of it, looking out for her future needs.  This was not wrong, but right.  Even Solomon in Proverbs advised this kind of thing for the wise, telling us to go to the ant and look at her ways.]  Jesus says this, “I say unto you, make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness”, use your money, your resources wisely, “that when you fail” and you will, “that when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations” (verse 9).  He says, ‘Look, you can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.  You can’t keep it, but you can put it somewhere where you’ll never loose it.’  I just saw, I remember a guy a little while ago, buried in a Cadillac.  There’s even that television ad where there’s a woman standing at the grave, she’s weeping, weeping, weeping, and you look down and she’s crying because her husband’s buried in the car, she loved the car.  I guarantee you when they cover that with dirt, he ain’t driving out of there going anywhere.  Where he’s going he doesn’t need a car, he needs a fire extinguisher.  You can’t take it with you, but you can send it ahead is what Jesus is saying.  You know, missionary night, Saturday night, some of you are going to get involved, you know, Compassion International, great organization.  And some of you have adopted children, you’re paying some $20 a month or something.  When you get into heaven [kingdom of heaven for some, Sea of Glass at the Wedding Feast of the Bride of Christ and Christ], somebody’s going to walk up to you and say ‘We’ve never met before, but I’m your $20 a month investment.  Because of you, I heard the Gospel and somebody put a Bible in my hand…Because of you, eternity came my way.’  And you’ll have somebody receiving you into everlasting habitations.  [When and how does that Wedding Feast come about, prophetically speaking?  One interesting scenario is at:]  Some of you are going to have a missionary come up to you and say ‘You don’t know who I am, but because your $20 came that month, I was able to put gas in my tank and get to this village and there was a revival that started.’  When you get to heaven, [ie at that Wedding Feast] someone’s going to walk up to you and say, ‘You don’t remember me, but you taught me in Sunday school [or Sabbath school] fifty years ago.  And because one day you took the time to wipe my nose and give me a hug, and to remind me that Jesus loved me, my life was changed, forever.’  Some of you are going to have prodigals walk up to you, and say ‘Mom or Dad I could never say it down there, but I can say it up here, Thanks.  All your weeping, all your care, all the heartbreak I put you through.  All that time I watched you, I knew your love was unconditional.  And that’s what drew me back to Christ.’  Some of you are going to have children that you visited in the hospital come up to you, and just say ‘Thank you, it was your encouraging words that let me go through those last two weeks of cancer with peace, you reminded me, you sang Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so, and I saw the gates of heaven open, and you focused my attention there.’  You know we sing that song, and ‘It’s only what’s done for Christ will last, when this life is past,’ you know the words to the song.  And Jesus challenging us, he talks about wasting goods, the prodigal, the way he wasted the resources of his father.  Same word here, this steward was “wasting”.  And yet all of a sudden when he was challenged with the idea of the future, all of a sudden he’s going to be put out, all of a sudden he’s called into account, he went and secured the future.  His means were not commended, but the fact that he acted wisely was.  The fact that he understood the importance of the future in the present.  And Jesus then takes that out of the parable, and says to you and I, that we should use the resources that we have, whether it’s money, whether it’s our strength, whether it’s the fact that we can drive somewhere, or cut somebody’s lawn, or help pack things for the Harvest Crusade, or whether we can teach in Sunday [or Sabbath] school, or be an usher and hand out a bulletin at the door and say ‘God bless you’ to somebody who looks brokenhearted when they walk in the door on Sunday [or Sabbath] morning.  That we can live our lives now in such a way that we’re laying up treasure in heaven, and not on the earth, as Jesus says, where moth and rust don’t corrupt, and thieves don’t break in and steal.  Because he says, ‘where your treasure is, that’s where your heart is going to be also.’  Here he’s challenging us to be wise stewards, to send it on ahead, do a good job with it.


The Principle of Giving---If God is Your Master, Money Will Be Your Servant


He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much:  and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.  If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?  And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?  No servant can serve two masters:  for either he will  hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.  Ye cannot serve God and mammon.  And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things:  and they derided him.  And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts:  for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”  He says he that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much.  A person who is faithful in, you know, little things that they’re doing.  You know, I don’t know about you, I hate to waste.  So if I’m in the house, and I hear somebody rinsing the dishes and they walk away and that hot water’s running, I am over there turning it off, saying ‘What is wrong with you!?  We are not paying for gas, we’re paying for water!’  I don’t know about you, but I hate waste.  But I, am I that wise all the time when it comes to things of God, or are we looking to him saying, ‘Lord, what should I do?’  Sometimes we have this funny idea that ten percent belongs to the Lord, and 90 percent is mine.  Well you know, I don’t see tithing enforced in the New Testament.  If you’re going to tithe, you have to bring ten percent of your sheep, ten percent of your cats, ten percent of your dogs, you have to redeem your firstborn son, every three years you have to give another ten percent for the poor, ten percent of your cucumbers, it is a big deal, ten percent of your tomatoes [that is 3rd tithe, a welfare tithe legislated for Israel.  For a good study on the tithing system of the Old Testament and discussion of tithing, gifts and giving in general, see:].  No, the principle in the New Testament is giving.  And if God puts ten percent on your heart you do it, but the thing you remember is when you go home, that other 90 percent, that ain’t yours either, it’s his [see the study on George Mueller at: to read about a man who literally banked it all in heavenly savings.]  He bought the whole thing when he died for you.  And we try to be as wise as we can with that.  Your health, that ain’t yours, it’s his.  If you’re a millionaire, you better look to heaven and say “Thank God”, because it says in Deuteronomy he gives one man the ability to get wealth, and another guy he doesn’t.  Wives, remember that, don’t nag your husband if they ain’t millionaires.  Your complaint is with God.  If they’re bums, you can nag them.  They should work, and they should supply.  But you know, there’s just some people, you know, we talk about the Midas touch, whatever they do, snap! they have business savvy, things seem to work out like that.  [One of my friends in the world is like that.  He works hard at whatever he does, but I’ve always said, Dennis could step into a financial pile of manure and come out smelling like a rose.  He, as far as I know, is a millionaire now.]  For me, I don’t need that.  I would be in trouble.  If I could afford a sports car, my license would be in jeopardy.  You know, I just think, ‘You know, Lord, you’re just wise, I’ve got a good standard of living, work each week, take care of business.’  Because if I had a Porsche or a Ferrari, I would, I don’t know what it is, the Devil would make me do it.  [laughter]  I would just have to get alone on a country road where nobody was around, and just look around, and put that pedal to the floor.  You know, I would love to take a ride in an F-16 or an F-14 Tomcat.  I would just love to do that.  [For me, the list is long, going from biplanes, B-17s to the Space Shuttle, and let’s not forget the Starship Enterprise.]  I don’t know what it is.  I don’t know what it is.  I like this passage in Proverbs, it says this, it says, “Remove far from me vanity and lies, give me neither poverty nor riches, feed me with food that is sufficient for me, lest I be full and deny thee, and say ‘Who is the Lord?’, or lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of God in vain” (Proverbs 30:8-9).  It’s Agur [verse 1, “The words of Agur the son of Jakeh…”] there I think, it’s not Solomon, but the Proverb says ‘Lord, don’t make me a millionaire or a pauper, because if I’m a millionaire, I’m just not wise enough to handle it, I’m going to forget about you.   And on the other hand, if I’m poor, I’m such a knuckle-head, I’ll probably be tempted to steal.  So just give me what’s convenient, Lord, give me what’s sufficient.’  But all that he gives us, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and them that dwell therein,” it says.  We are his people, the sheep of his pasture, he’s the one whose made us, not we ourselves the Bible says.  All that we have is his.  Jesus is saying, ‘Look what you have, look in your hands, look at what God’s given you, look at what he’s surrounded you with, look at your resources, your finances, your abilities, your talents, look at what is in your hand, and use it to secure the future.’  You know, because he is longing to lavish on us, when we step into glory, wonderful things.  Peter says that we should seek an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God.  And if you’re anything like me, you know there have been times in your life when you’ve said ‘Lord, I’ll be the least in the Kingdom, I read about that guy somewhere, he who does this is the least in the kingdom, Lord, I’m so tired, I don’t want to live, I don’t want to wake up tomorrow, I can’t go on, give me a heavenly blanket and a heavenly cup, I’ll be the beggar, let me inside the Gate, just give me a warm spot, just give me rest, I’ll be the least in the Kingdom.’  No, no, no, the Bible’s not at all content with that, and encourages us that we might have an abundant entrance, because the more rewards we have, the more crowns we have, the more then that we will have to throw at his feet, as we see him as he is, as we see him in glory.  [i.e. our spiritual growth and accomplishments, ultimately, will be to give honour and greater glory to Jesus Christ.]  The Bible says there’s good works fore-ordained that we should walk in them.  So Jesus here in this parable tells of this prodigal son who wasted, he’s also telling us of the older brother who wasted, and then he says ‘Look, even this unjust steward did something wise, yes, he was wasting, but then when he realized, he changed.  And then he used his present to secure the future.’  If you are the prodigal who has been living in sin and rebellion, you come back, because the Father’s arms are open, his heart is broken for you.  And you’ll be safe as long as you don’t meet an older brother on the way back.  If you’re an older brother [or sister], you are wasting God’s love, God’s forgiveness.  You are not rejoicing.  If you’re saying ‘I’m not going to enter in’, the angels are rejoicing, heaven is rejoicing, you’re standing outside the joy of heaven over that which is lost and has been found, you’re wasting something.  Jesus says when this guy sees that he had been wasting, and he realizes, he uses his present to secure the future.  And then the exhortation comes to us, use your present situation to secure those things that are eternal.  Even if you just have a little bit, he said, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much:  and he that is unjust in the least will be unjust in much.  If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?  And if you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s,”---and all you have is the Lord’s---“who shall  give you that which is your own?  No servant can serve two masters.”  And it’s “No servant can slave for two masters.”  “Either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon” (verses 10-13).  You know, money is a great servant and a cruel master.  He says If God is your Master, money will be your servant.’  You shouldn’t be serving it, it should be serving you.  Money and resources are a great tool to use against the devil, it is a great tool for evangelism, it is a great tool to support missionaries, it is a great tool to support the Church [Body of Christ], it is a great tool to send ahead of you, that which you can’t keep if you hold onto it here.  It is a great investment [but you have to do the investing].  And your time, and your abilities, and all of those things.


Jesus is Ridiculed by the Greedy and Covetous Pharisees for the Parable


Now, “the Pharisees,” it says, verse 14, “who were covetous,” they were lovers of money is what the idea means, “heard all these things: They’ve heard the parable, sending things on ahead, not loving money, not serving money, “and they derided him.”  They ridiculed Jesus, they mock him openly now.  Because you have to realize, these are the guys, and there isn’t anything new under the sun.  The Bible tells us when Jesus came into the Temple, that he overturned the tables of the money-changers, because here they were, it had turned into a big scam.  People came to the mandatory Feasts from all over the world.  And in the Temple precincts in the Court of the Gentiles, which should have been a place of prayer, they had tables set up to exchange money, because if you were going to worship there, you had to have the silver coinage of the Temple.  And if you were going to buy a lamb for sacrifice, and people that came from far away usually didn’t bring an animal all that distance, you had to use the Temple currency to buy it.  So if you had currency from a foreign land, first they would charge you to exchange your money a certain rate to give you then the Temple money, and then when you went to use that money to buy a lamb they would charge you exorbitant prices for the lamb, and they were getting you coming and going.  They were taking advantage of a genuine heart that was coming to worship.  If you brought your own animal, and you lived locally, they would find some blemish, and say, ‘You know, you can’t sacrifice, this animal has a spot or blemish.’  And Jesus, when he came in there, it says he overturned the tables of the money-changers, and he says ‘You’ve made this a den of thieves.’  Jesus challenged the religious leaders, and said, ‘You have, for the sake of your tradition, done away with the Word of God, because the Word of God says honor your mother and father’, which just doesn’t mean honor them as you’re growing up, it means your whole life.  They didn’t have any old age homes or retirement homes, it was your job to take care of your parents when they were a patriarch, when they were old.  You honored them all of their life.  And you cared for them in their old age.  And it was part of the Law, they understood, to honor the mother and father.  Jesus said ‘Now you religious leaders have said, if the person whose going to use their money to support their parents in their old age says ‘Corban’, then it’s something you can dedicate to the Temple, and if you dedicate to the Temple, then you are released from the responsibility of taking care of your parents.’  Because they were skimming the money that came into the Temple.  They were crooks.  And as they listened to Jesus say ‘Hey, the wise thing to do with your resources is to invest them in heaven, in the Kingdom and the future’ they begin to ridicule him and mock him, because they were religious for sure, but they were carnal and they were worldly.  And they thought, ‘You are insane.  You’re telling people to live their whole lives for the Kingdom?  You’re telling people to give everything to Jesus.’  What do your relatives and friends say to you.  ‘You go to church, You go Sunday morning, do you have to go Sunday night!?  You go Wednesday night, then you go to the Single’s study, then you go to these Retreats.  What are they doing, hypnotizing people there?  You’re some kind of a fanatic!  You’ve lost your mind!’  You know, if you’re going to medical school and you study for 8-hours a night, and you study until you get black eyes from studying, you’re taking Vivran, and you look like you’re ready for a nervous breakdown.  And people say ‘Oh, they’re so dedicated.’  [laughter]  You go to church three times a week and you’re a quack.  And that’s what these religious people are doing, they’re ridiculing Christ, they’re saying, ‘Take your money and invest it in the future? Oh sure, oh sure.’  Well, the one thing hypocrisy can’t stand is this, verse 15, Jesus says to them, “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts:  for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”  With self-exultation, Satan is the master teacher.  “But God knoweth your hearts”, isn’t that the thing that every hypocrite can’t face, “God knoweth your hearts.”  You know, let me tell you something.  For me, sometimes that’s an encouragement, sometimes that’s a little spooky.  Sometimes, you know, when I’m doing my best, and I’m trying hard, and I just haven’t had the time or the opportunity to do something, you know, then it’s a blessing for me to be able to turn and say, ‘Lord, you know my heart.  I wanted to do this.’  Or if I go to apologize to someone and they’re still mad at me, I say, ‘Lord, you know my heart, I’m just trying to do what you tell me to do.’  But sometimes if I get mad in traffic, then I go, ‘Oh Lord, you know my heart?’ [laughter]  I mean, that’s, that is a good thing, and that is a very challenging thing.  You see a beautiful girl walk by, he knows your heart.  He knows your heart.  Somebody cuts you off in traffic, and you wish you had a bazooka, he knows your heart.  Someone is asking you for forgiveness, they’ve hurt you, and you’re saying with this funny smile, ‘Ah, praise the Lord, I forgive you.’  The Lord knows your heart.  You know, the great thing for us is to be in that better Covenant, that yes, he who has begun a good work in us will continue it until that day, and that he is conforming us into the image of his Son, and that we are in process.  Yeah, we ain’t what we should be, but we ain’t what we used to be, and we ain’t what we’re gonna be.  [applause] 




I want to encourage you, if you don’t know Christ personally this evening.  You know, I don’t know what you’re thinking as you sit here.  Probably some of you are thinking ‘Oh man, this guy’s a blow-hard, I wish he’d get over it so we can go to Friendly’s and get some ice cream.  I understand.  I understand, not offended, I understand.  I hope some of you are thinking ‘What are all of these people doing, sitting here, singing, laughing, you know, it ain’t like church, like a real church, and that don’t look like a real pastor.’  Well that’s a badge of honor too, I’m not worried, and certainly not offended.  [I guess his favorite shirt is a Hawaiian shirt he wears all the time when preaching, probably with a nice pair of chinos or khaki paints.]  And I hope some of you are thinking ‘What is this all about?  Could it really be that Jesus is the Saviour, that heaven and hell are real?  Could it really be that all the years I spent in church, I never realized, yeah, I grew up in the Church, and I never realized.’  So for those of you that the Lord has drawn here this evening, and you’re sitting here thinking ‘You know, if this is true, I want it.  If I can have a hope beyond this world, if there’s a God who would run to me, and put his arms around me, weeping and receiving me into his Kingdom, if this God is the God that he’s talking about, and all of heaven would rejoice if I gave my worthless life to Christ?’  Yup, that’s what the Bible teaches, and that’s what happens.  So we’re going to give you that opportunity.  I want to have the musicians come, and we’ll sing a song...[connective expository sermon given on Luke 15:24-32 and Luke 16:1-15 by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116.] 


Related links:


Sending Our Resources On Ahead Of Us.  See:


How Do I Accept the Call of God?  See:


and scroll to the bolded paragraph titled “How to Become a Christian” and read from there.