The Elder Brother

The story of the prodigal son is one of the simplest, and yet one of the most beautiful, parables which Jesus employed to teach his disciples the great lessons of life. It has always been a favorite theme for study and discussion. Even without the higher interpretation gained through Christian Science, this parable has brought not a little comfort and hope to many an erring one. But it has been the younger son, the wayward, impulsive prodigal, who has ever appealed the more strongly to the popular imagination. The elder son has usually been overlooked or condemned. This character, however, has for us an important lesson, and must be considered in order to glean from the story its full meaning.

Before Christian Science came to illumine the Scriptures, one student felt no little sympathy for the elder brother. He was evidently obedient, faithful, industrious, and law abiding. He had been loyal to his father and consciousness in the discharge of his duties. Surely he deserved some consideration, as well as the much loved younger brother! Then, when the study of Christian Science began to show up the unlovely traits of resentment, envy, jealousy, and hatred manifested by the elder brother, there came the temptation to condemn him. Why need he envy his brother the reception given him by the father? Everything which their common parent had bestowed upon the wanderer was his also. If he had so desired, he could have made merry with his friends. Why then the bitter complaining? Studied in the light of Christian Science, however, the parables of Jesus are seen to analyze states or conditions of the human mind, and if considered from this angle rather than from the standpoint of person, they yield valuable lessons.

In the remarkable picture of the father and the father's attitude towards his sons in the above-mentioned parable, Jesus undoubtedly intended to reveal to his disciples the character of his heavenly Father and His loving attitude towards all of His creation. In the character of these sons we are given two outstanding types of human consciousness—the repentant consciousness weary of materiality with its resultant suffering, as typified by the younger brother, and the self-righteous thought, priding itself upon human goodness and faithfulness to duty, filled with jealousy and resentment towards those whom it considers less worthy than itself, as brought out in the character of the elder brother.

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"Know thyself"
July 7, 1928

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