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Third Brother

In the New Testament Jesus tells the parable we call the “Prodigal Son”. (see Luke 15:11-32)

There are three people involved, the father and two bothers, one older and the “prodigal” younger brother.

The father is seen as a very loving, caring and forgiving father.

The type of father any son would very keen to have.

He was probably very well off and had many people working for him and a farm with lots of land, crops and animals.

But the younger son rebelled


According to Jewish “protocol for inheritance was that when the father felt that his heir had come of age and was ready, he would give the heir the authority to help manage their wealth while he was still alive.” Eric Johnson in his book “Momentum.

Neither brother showed they were ready.


The younger brother was not ready as he rebelled by asking for his inheritance, thinking he could do better by himself and left home to a distant area.


So he left home to do things his own way and lost any relationship with his father.

The father was very gracious in allowing the younger brother to leave.

He did not need to do this.

I expect the father thought his son would return at some stage.

We see this possibility in his continued looking for his son’s return.


Unfortunately it did not take long for the younger son to waste all his inheritance.

He was suddenly in charge of a lot of money and so found he had many friends who were only to pleased to help him spend it.

He made the wrong friends and formed wrong relationships.

Then when all the money had gone these “friends” left and the younger son was left only with debts!

Making his downward slide more disastrous, he could only find work at one of the lowest occupations a Jewish boy could find, feeding pigs – an animal looked down on by Jews.


Fortunately the father’s prayers were answered and the younger son came to his senses and returned home but not expecting such a warm welcome.

He expected to just return, ask for forgiveness and work as a servant, but to his surprised was reinstated as a son.

The father had been looking for him.

Waiting patiently for his “lost” son to return


The loving, caring forgiving father had some staff prepare a lavish feast for his “lost” son.

The father gave him all the trimmings of a fully accepted son.

This surprised both sons.

The younger knew he was unworthy and the older son was really indignant and objected quite strongly.


We are not told anything about the older brother who stayed home.

It is likely he did not have a close relationship with their father and so was not suitable to utilize his ability to use his inheritance.

It seems he had a clouded vision of what being a son meant.

This tainted his heart as thought he had to work to receive his father’s approval and blessing.

He was living under an obligation to work to succeed.

He probably would have thought that anyone who did not work was not worthy of any reward.

He seemed to think of himself more as a servant than a son.

We do not know but he possibly had closer relationships with the servants than with his father.

The older son was probably just waiting for his father to die so he could take over.

He could then take his inheritance and not have to look to his father for support.


All this culminated in anger and resentment when he saw his wayward brother being accepted back into the family.

If he had developed a closer relationship with his father he would have been looking for his lost brother alongside his father.

And he would have realised all about the inheritance he had being at home with his loving father.

In fact everything his father had was his!


The younger son took his inheritance and wasted it.

The older son really had his inheritance but wasted the opportunity to use it with his father’s support.

Both boys missed out on the real gifts the father wanted them to have, a close access to his love and support, an intimate, joyful and co-operating relationship with him and an influence and authority over an increasing inheritance.


There never has been a third brother, but if there had been and he did things correctly, what would he have done?


First he would have known what a loving father craves to give his sons, a loving access to his presence, an intimacy that encouraged trust and cooperation, an influence resulting in the father giving his all and an authority over all their inheritance.

From this position of real sonship he would have know he did not have to work to get his father’s approval.

Total acceptance and approval was all a part of his inheritance.

An imaginary third son would have been so close to his father that he felt the pain of separation from both sons.

He would have been praying alongside his father for the “prodigal” to return and for the older son to come into a loving relationship.

He would have been waiting with his father for the “prodigal’s” return and he would have been trying to mediate between the older son and the father.

He would have been totally obedient, listening eagerly and only doing what his father said.

He would have seen life through his father’s eyes and from his perspective.


Does that sound familiar?

This is exactly what The Son of God, Jesus does!

He is the mediator between the Father and us and even now He is seated beside the Father interceding for us.

They both continually look for any lost to return home.


But their real desire is for an intimation relationship with their sons and daughters.


Many of us can easily relate to the “prodigal” his failure and his return.

But most to not recognise the plight of the older son in our own lives.

We as Christians often fail to see we can have a loving access to God The Father’s presence, an intimacy and influence with Him that hears Him say, “ask and it shall be given to you”, and an authority over all our inheritance.


As we take hold of the mediation Jesus has acquired for us we can become new creations and experience His Kingdom. (John 3:3-5, 2 Cor. 5:17)

Totally approved and accepted into a right relationship with The Father. (2 Cor. 5:21)

We receive an authority from Him that provides physical and mental strength over our enemies. (Luke 10:19)

We also get a confidence for the future and a bold assurance to come into His presence. (1 John 4:17)


We are as a friend says “Everything I am and have is purely because and through Jesus Christ! He has made me a son and joint heir now. Sadly many Christians think they shall possess this position in heaven when in fact we are in possession of sonship now in this world. Gal 4:7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”


Lets go back to the two brothers and hear what they may have said after their experiences.

The younger may have said something like this, “He ran to me, my father actually ran to me! As soon as he saw me he just ran and wrapped his loving arms about me! I was expecting him to turn his back and I would have to plead. But he loved me. He ran to me and welcomed me back as his son. I was willing to be a worker but he loved me as his son.”

The older son’s answer could have gone like this, “All he had was mine! I thought I had to work to get his attention but I just had to ask! What a waste of time. Years of wasted effort! All he had was mine and I had been missing out.”


Which bother do you relate to the younger son, older son or the “third brother”?