Read Luke 15:11-32. Too often we see men and women who are living like the older brother in this story, and we can’t even tell there’s a problem. These people are in church. Some of them may even teach Sunday school, volunteer to help run vacation Bible school, or host a small group. The older son is really not that different from his younger brother.

Both sons wanted what their father could give them, but neither was truly invested in his relationship with him. The younger son chose the more direct approach. He essentially told the father to drop dead so he could have his inheritance ahead of schedule. The older brother was more patient. He chose the route of obedience. He would earn the things he wanted from his father. He would do all the right things, and that would give him a right to all the things he wanted.

At the end of Jesus’ parable, in the midst of a tremendous celebration to welcome home the younger son, the older son is fuming. He tells his father, “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends” (v. 29). There are people like this in churches today, just like the Pharisees who were listening to this parable. They believe that their good behavior entitles them to the Father’s blessings. Not only are they presuming upon the goodness of God, they are missing out on the greatest blessing of all: knowing their heavenly Father! Sinners often recognize their need for a Savior, but those who seem like they have it all together on the outside have trouble seeing their great need.

Jesus’ parable ends abruptly. The father invites his older son to the party. In fact, he is pleading with his boy to join in the festivities. But we are never told how the son responds. The story ends without his answer. The implication is this: God stands ready to welcome home every lost sinner, including those Pharisees and scribes, if only they will recognize their need for a Savior. Now is the time to answer this unbelievably gracious invitation.

Prayer: Father, Your mercy and grace are astounding. I praise You for Your faithful love. Help me to see the ways I am trying to earn favor with You so that I may repent and by Your grace be truly free in Your salvation. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’” (Luke 15:31-32).

Check out more from Dr. Michael Youssef, here!

About The Author

Dr. Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Even before he was born, it is clear that God had a vision for Michael Youssef. His mother was in poor health when she became pregnant with Michael, and because his life was in danger at the time of birth, the doctor recommended terminating the pregnancy. An abortion was scheduled. But God intervened and sent the family pastor to reassure them that God was involved in this pregnancy. He told them not to be afraid and that the child would be "born to serve the Lord." Michael's parents accepted the pastor's message as a message from God and obeyed. His mother gave birth, and lived to see him give his life to the Lord at the age of sixteen.

Believing that God had called him out of Egypt, Michael sought an exit visa in a time in which no university student was allowed to have a passport or leave the country. God intervened again, and miraculously he managed to acquire a visa. He immigrated to Australia, where he studied at Moore Theological College in Sydney, was ordained as a pastor, and met Elizabeth who became his wife.

The Youssefs came to America in 1977, and in 1978 Michael received a master's degree in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in California. Then he earned a doctorate in social anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Michael served nearly ten years in the Haggai Institute, traveling around the world more than 32 times, teaching courses in evangelism and leadership. He rose to the position of Managing Director at the age of 31 years. The family settled in Atlanta, and in 1984, Michael became a citizen of the United States, making his dream of many years come true.

He founded The Church of The Apostles in 1987 with fewer than 40 adults with the mission of "Equipping the Saints and Searching for the Lost". The church has since grown to be a congregation of over 3,000 people today. This church has driven the international ministry of Leading the Way. While it is heard by millions at home and abroad, behind every message preached through radio waves, is the heart of a pastor, willing to nurture and care for these people. Clearly God has uniquely equipped Dr. Youssef to speak to a global audience. The path he has taken has given him an understanding and firm grasp of the Scriptures that transcend cultures. He preaches, teaches and calls with a sincere, based on the authority of the inerrant, inspired Word of God. With his personal knowledge of the Holy Land, its history and culture, Dr. Michael Youssef transmits life to listeners all over the world.

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