If I use the phrase elder brother it is likely that a large number in the audience will immediately think of a negative image of a rule keeping elder brother portrayed in Luke 15.
That image is of course valid but I believe it’s intention is meant to point us to the real elder brother, his name is Jesus.
In Luke 15 the elder brother is known for keeping the rules but actually he failed to keep his responsibilities which were much more important than the rules. In every responsibility he lived out the opposite of what Jesus as our elder brother has and will do for us but also there is an incredible parallel in the over view of the bible.
1st Responsibility: To lovingly warn the younger brother against leaving home.
This is the role of Jesus in our lives, telling us of how to live and interestingly is really the theme of the Old Testament, the portrayal of the law as a guide to how life on earth was intended to be lived.
2nd Responsibility: To mediate between the returning younger brother and the father.
Once again and most dramatically this is portrayed to us by the life of Jesus. He came to actually give his life as mediation and reconciliation between a lost world and an outrageously loving heavenly father. It is the theme of the New Testament
3rd Responsibility: To wait on the table serving the guests at the banquet.
Here again we see Jesus, waiting at table at the last supper and pointing to the marriage supper of the lamb, where he will drink wine with us again.
Perhaps next time you think of the elder brother you will be able to see the great potential of the elder brother and join me in seeking to emulate him in these three responsibilities. Modelling how life should be lived, loving and welcoming home those who have wandered and celebrating every life restored!