Luke 15:32
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(32) It was meet that we should make merry.—The Greek expresses moral necessity rather than mere fitness. “We must needs rejoice;” it could not be otherwise. The repetition of the same words that had been used before, “he was dead . . .” is singularly-emphatic. This, and nothing more or less than this was the true account of the change that had passed over the wanderer; and this ought to be a source of joy to all his kindred. There is, perhaps, a touch of tenderness as well as reproof in the way in which the scornful “this thy son” is met by “this thy brother.” The elder son had forgotten that fact, and had almost disclaimed his own sonship in his scorn for the offender.

Luke 15:32. It was meet that we should make merry and be glad — Both reason and natural affection justify me in calling the whole family to rejoice on the present occasion. For this thy brother was dead, &c. — As thy brother is returned to us sensible of his folly, and determined to lead a new life in future, his arrival is like his reviving after death, at least, it is his being found after he was really lost. For which reason our joy ought to bear a proportion to the greatness of this occasion. There is a beautiful opposition between the father’s words here, and those of the elder son, Luke 15:30. The latter had there indecently said to his father, This thy son. The father, in his reply, mildly reproves him, and tenderly says, This thy brother — As if he had said, “Though he hath devoured my living with harlots, he is thy brother, as well as my son: wherefore thou shouldest not be angry because he hath repented and is returned, after we thought him irrecoverably lost. Thus the goodness with which the father bore the surly peevishness of his elder son was little inferior to the mercy shown in the pardon that he granted to the younger: and we have herein a moving intimation that the best of men ought to look on the most abandoned sinners as, in some respect, their brethren still, and should especially remember the relation, when there appears any inclination in such sinners to return.” Jesus having thus set before them the affectionate behaviour of an earthly parent toward his undutiful children, left every one to judge whether such weak and wicked creatures can love their offspring with more true tenderness than the great Father Almighty loves his, or can show them more indulgence for their benefit. Indeed, “in this inimitable composition, the amazing mercy of God is painted with captivating beauty; and in all the three parables, the joys occasioned among heavenly beings by the conversion of a single sinner are represented; joys even to God himself, than which a nobler and sweeter thought never entered into the mind of rational creatures. Thus high do men stand in the estimation of God; for which cause they should not cast themselves away in that trifling manner wherein multitudes destroy themselves; neither should any think the salvation of others a small matter, as some who are intrusted with their recovery seem to do. Had the Pharisees understood the parable, how criminal must they have appeared in their own eyes, when they saw themselves truly described in the character of the eldest son, who was angry that his brother had repented! Withal, how bitter must their remorse have been, when they found themselves, not only repining at that which gave joy to God, the conversion of sinners, but excessively displeased with the methods of his procedure in this matter, and maliciously opposing them! If these parables had been omitted by Luke, as they have been by the other three historians, the world would certainly have sustained an unspeakable loss.” — Macknight.

Many have considered this parable in a view of peculiar application to the Jews and Gentiles; and have observed, that the murmurs of the Jews against the apostles for preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, are represented by the conduct of the elder brother. This was certainly a case comprehended in our Lord’s design, but he undoubtedly had something more in his intention: he meant to show, that had the Pharisees been as eminently good as they themselves pretended to be, yet it would have been very unworthy their character to take offence at the kind treatment which any sincere penitent might receive. Thus does he here, and in many parallel texts, condemn their conduct on their own principles, though elsewhere, on proper occasions, he shows the falsehood of those principles, and plainly exposes their hypocrisy and guilt. But our Lord had still a further design in delivering this parable; he intended to give us, as he has done, a lively emblem of the character and condition of sinners in their fallen state. Like this prodigal, they are impatient of the most necessary restraints, fondly conceited of their own wisdom; and when enriched by the bounties of the great common Father, they ungratefully run from him, saying to him, in effect, Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. Sensual pleasures are eagerly sought; and perhaps all their earthly possessions and hopes are quickly paid as the price of them: while the means of obtaining these pleasures continue, not a serious thought of God can find place in their minds. And even when afflictions come upon them, still they make hard shifts, before they will let the grace of God, concurring with his providence, persuade them to think of a return. When they see themselves naked and indigent, enslaved and undone, then they come to themselves, and recover the exercise of their reason. Then they remember the blessings they have thrown away, and attend to the misery they have incurred. And hereupon they resolve to return to their heavenly Father, and put the resolution immediately in practice: they arise and go unto him. Behold with wonder and pleasure the gracious reception they find from divine injured goodness! When such a prodigal comes to his Father, the Father sees him afar off: he pities, meets, embraces him, and interrupts his acknowledgments with the tokens of his returning favour. He arrays him with the robe of the Redeemer’s righteousness, imputed and implanted, with pardon and holiness, adorns him with all his sanctifying graces, and honours him with the tokens of adopting love, and all the glorious privileges and immunities of his children. And all this he does with unutterable delight, in that he who was lost is now found. Let no elder brother murmur at this indulgence, but rather welcome the prodigal back into the family. And let those who have been thus received wander no more, but emulate the strictest piety of those who for many years have served their heavenly Father, and made it their daily care, not to transgress his commandments, but to walk before him in all well-pleasing.

15:25-32 In the latter part of this parable we have the character of the Pharisees, though not of them alone. It sets forth the kindness of the Lord, and the proud manner in which his gracious kindness is often received. The Jews, in general, showed the same spirit towards the converted Gentiles; and numbers in every age object to the gospel and its preachers, on the same ground. What must that temper be, which stirs up a man to despise and abhor those for whom the Saviour shed his precious blood, who are objects of the Father's choice, and temples of the Holy Ghost! This springs from pride, self-preference, and ignorance of a man's own heart. The mercy and grace of our God in Christ, shine almost as bright in his tender and gentle bearing with peevish saints, as his receiving prodigal sinners upon their repentance. It is the unspeakable happiness of all the children of God, who keep close to their Father's house, that they are, and shall be ever with him. Happy will it be for those who thankfully accept Christ's invitation.All I have is thine - The property was divided. What remained was in reality the older son's. He was heir to it all, and had a right, if he chose, to use it. He had, therefore, no right to complain.

This instructive and beautiful parable was designed to vindicate the conduct of Jesus to show that it was right to receive sinners, and that the conduct of the Pharisees was unreasonable. The older son represents the Pharisees; the younger, the returning sinner, whether Jew or Gentile; and the father, God, who is willing to receive them. The parable had the designed effect. It silenced the adversaries of Jesus and vindicated his own conduct. There is not, perhaps, anywhere to be found a more beautiful and touching narrative than this. Every circumstance is tender and happily chosen; every word has a meaning; every image is beautiful; and the narrative closes just where it is fitted to make the deepest impression. In addition to what has been suggested, we may learn from this parable the following lessons:

1. That the disposition of a sinner is selfish. He desires to get all that he can, and is impatient of delay, Luke 15:12.

2. Sinners waste their blessings, and reduce themselves to a state of want and wretchedness, Luke 15:13. A life of sin brings on spiritual want and misery. It destroys the faculties, benumbs the mind, hardens the heart, abuses the beneficence of God, and makes us careless of him who gave us all that we have, and indifferent to the consequences of our own conduct.

3. Sinners disregard the future woes that will come upon them. The young man cared not for any calamities that might be the result of his conduct. He went on heedlessly - like every sinner to enjoy himself, and to squander what the toils of his father had procured for him.

4. Afflictions are often the means of bringing sinners to reflection, Luke 15:14. While his property lasted the prodigal cared little about his father. When that was gone, and he was in the midst of a famine, he thought of his ways. When sinners are in prosperity they think little about God. When he takes away their mercies, and they are called to pass through afflictions, then they think of their ways, and remember that God can give them comfort.

5. We have here an impressive exhibition of the wants and woes of a sinner.

(1) he had spent all. He had nothing. So the sinner. He has no righteousness, no comfort.

(2) he was far from God, away from his father, and in a land of strangers. The sinner has wandered, and has no friend. His miseries came upon him "because" he was so far away from God.

(3) his condition was wretched. He was needy, in famine, and without a friend. So the sinner. His condition is aptly denoted by that of the prodigal, who would gladly have partaken of the food of the swine. The sinner has taken the world for his portion, and it neither supplies the wants of his soul, nor gives him comfort when he is far away from his Father's home and from God.

6. The sinner in this situation often applies to the wrong source for comfort, Luke 15:15. The prodigal should at once have returned to his father, but he rather chose to become a servant of a citizen of that region. The sinner, when sensible of his sins, should return at once to God; but he often continues still to wander. He tries new objects. He seeks new pleasures and new friends, and finds them equally unsatisfactory. He engages in new pursuits, but all in vain. He is still comfortless, and in a strange, a famished land,

7. The repentance required in the gospel is a return to a right mind, Luke 15:17. Before his conversion the sinner was alienated from God. He was spiritually deranged. He saw not things as they are. Now he looks on the world as vain and unsatisfactory, and comes to himself. He thinks "aright" of God, of heaven, of eternity, and resolves to seek his happiness there. No man regards things as they are but he who sees the world to be vain, and eternity to be near and awful; and none acts with a "sane mind" but he who acts on the belief that he must soon die; that there is a God and a Saviour - a heaven and a hell.

8. When the sinner returns he becomes sensible of the following things:

(1) That he is in danger of perishing, and must soon die but for relief - "I perish with hunger."

continued...

32. It was meet—Was it possible he should simply take his long vacant place in the family without one special sign of wonder and delight at the change? Would that have been nature? But this being the meaning of the festivity, it would for that very reason be temporary. In time, the dutifulness of even the younger son would become the law and not the exception; he too at length might venture to say, "Lo, these many years do I serve thee"; and of him the father would say, "Son, thou art ever with me." In that case, therefore, it would not be "meet that they should make merry and be glad." The lessons are obvious, but how beautiful! (1) The deeper sunk and the longer estranged any sinner is, the more exuberant is the joy which his recovery occasions. (2) Such joy is not the portion of those whose whole lives have been spent in the service of their Father in heaven. (3) Instead of grudging the want of this, they should deem it the highest testimony to their lifelong fidelity, that something better is reserved for them—the deep, abiding complacency of their Father in heaven. See Poole on "Luke 15:25"

It was meet that we should make merry,.... Both father, son, and servants; See Gill on Luke 15:23, Luke 15:24 and this elder brother also, because of the relation he stood in to him: and if he had had the same spiritual affection the apostle had for his brethren and kinsmen, according to the flesh, Romans 9:3 and he would have rejoiced at the conversion and return of sinners by repentance:

and be glad; as his father was, and the angels in heaven be; see Luke 15:10

for this thy brother, though he would not own him as such,

was dead, and is alive again, and was lost, and is found:, Luke 15:24 and so the parable is concluded, the elder brother being silenced, and having nothing to say against such strong reasoning.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
32. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad] “They glorified God...saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life,” Acts 11:18. It would be impossible to mark more emphatically God’s displeasure at the narrow, exclusive, denunciatory spirit which would claim for ourselves only, or our party, or our Church, a monopoly of heaven. The hard dogmatism and speculative theories of a self-asserting Theology “vanish like oppressive nightmares before this single parable in which Jesus reveals the heavenly secrets of human redemption, not according to a mystical or criminal theory of punishment, but anthropologically,

psychologically, and theologically to every pure eye that looks into the perfect law of liberty.” Von Ammon, Leb. Jesu, iii. 50.

this thy brother] For he is thy brother, and I thy Father, though thou wouldest refuse this name to him, and didst not address that title to me.

Luke 15:32. Ἔδει) Not only is the idea intimated hereby, Thou oughtest to have rejoiced; but this one, Rejoicing ought to have been commenced as it has been at our house. For it is a kind of apologetic defence against the complaint expressed in verse 30 [the killing of the fatted calf for such a profligate], with which comp. Luke 15:2 [in which the corresponding complaint of the Pharisees occurs, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.”]. [How wonderful is the condescending kindness of the Father (in thus gently expostulating with one who evinced so bad a spirit)!—V. g.] So ἔδει, in the sense it was befitting, not it would be befitting, Acts 1:16 [Peter, speaking of the past, ἔδει πληρωθῆναι τὴν γραφὴνπερὶ Ἰούδα, It was befitting, that the Scripture should be fulfilled concerning Judas].—ὁ ἀδελφός σου οὗτος, this thy brother) In antithesis to this thy son, in Luke 15:30 [which the elder brother had said contemptuously].

Luke 15:32
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