George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
Refusing to Go In
And he was angry, and would not go in--Luke 15:28
An Inexhaustible Parable
I have often spoken on this beautiful parable, and I hope often to speak on it again. It is so full of teaching and so full of hope that in a lifetime one could not exhaust it. I think I have even spoken on this verse when discussing our duties to our equals. But now I choose it for a different purpose, and I want to put it in a different setting. I want to look at this brother in the parable as the type of the man who will not enter into a love that is too big for earth, and into a household that is home indeed. "And he was angry, and would not go in. "Are there not multitudes in that condition? They see the gleaming of the lights of home, and there is the sound of music in their ears. And yet though they know that they would have a welcome, and add to the gladness of it all by entering, somehow or other, like the brother here, they stand in the cold night outside the door. I am not speaking to those who have accepted Christ, and know His fellowship, I am speaking to those so near to door and window that they see the light and hear the sound of music. And yet though the night is over them and round them, and they are hungry and the feast is there, somehow or other they will not go in. Let me ask you in passing to lay this to heart, that no one will ever force you in. God is too careful of our human freedom to drag us against our will into His home. You must go willingly or not at all. You must make up your mind to go, and do it. And probably there is no hour so fit for that as just this hour which you have reached.
There are two things about which I want to speak in connection with the conduct of this brother. First, I want to look at the reasons which kept him from entering the home that night. Second, I want to find out what he missed because he thus refused to enter.
He Could Not Understand His Father's Ways
First, then, looking at the man, why was it that he refused to enter? I think to begin with, that this was in his heart, that he could not understand his father's ways. Doubtless he had always loved his father. Doubtless he had always honored him. He had never before questioned his sagacity, or dreamed of thinking of him as unjust. But now, in the hour of the prodigal's return, when the house was ablaze with light and loud with merriment, all he had cherished of his father's justice seemed to be scattered to the winds of heaven. Was this the way to receive back a prodigal? Was not this to put a premium on folly? Was it fair to him, so faithful and so patient, that a reckless ne'er-do-well should have this welcome? He could not understand his father's ways. Is this the only man who has stood without because of irritating thoughts like that? Are there none here who will not enter because they cannot understand the Father's dealings? They cannot fathom the mysteries of providence. They cannot understand the cruelties of nature. They cannot grasp the meaning of the cross, or see the power of the death of Jesus. Am I speaking to anyone who feels like that--who cannot understand the Father's dealings? I want to say to you that the one way to learn them is to come at once into the home. For the ways of God are like cathedral windows which to those outside are dim and meaningless, and only reveal their beauty and their story to those who are within.
He Was Indignant with His Brother
I think again this man refused to enter because he was indignant with his brother. He was indignant that one with such a character should have a place at all within the house. It is not likely that he ever loved his brother, and perhaps his brother had never much loved him. There was such a difference between their natures that they could hardly have been the best of comrades. For the one was always generous to a fault, and always getting into trouble somewhere; and the other was a pattern of sobriety, and as cautious as he was laborious. Such Jacobs, and they are found in every region, are always a little contemptuous of Esaus. Secretly they despise them and their singing, and they cannot understand why people love them. And when they find that they are home again, and that all the household is in revelry, then are they angry and will not go in. So was it with this person in the parable. He was not only angry with his father; he was deeply indignant that in the house of gladness a man should be tolerated such as his brother was. And I know many who are standing outside--who are angry and will not go in--for a reason precisely similar to that. I remember a young man coming to me in Dundee to tell me why he would never join the church. It seemed that in the place of business where he worked there was a young woman who made a great profession. And all the time that she was busy in attending meetings and acting as a monitor, she was engaged in pilfering the till. "And he was angry, and would not go in." He was very indignant with his sister. He said, "If these are the kind of people who are in, then it is better that I should be without." And I tell you there are many just like that, who would come in and get their welcome, if it were not for what they have seen in you--if it were not for what they have seen in me. My brother, standing in the darkness there, there is a great deal to justify your attitude. But why do you leave the happiness to us when we are such prodigals and so unworthy of it? Come in yourself tonight out of the cold. Bring your enthusiasm and your courage with you. And not only will you receive a blessing, but you will be a blessing to us all.
He Trusted the Reports of Others
I think again this man refused to enter because he trusted the reports of others. He did what is always a foolish thing to do--he went on the information of the servants. Had he gone right in and seen things for himself, the night for him would have had a different issue. One look at his brother might have softened him, there were such traces of hell about his face. But instead of that he went to the stable door, where the ostler was loafing and listening to the music, and he, the first-born of his father's family, was content to get his information there. Now of course we know that he was told the truth. "Thy brother is come, and they are making merry." But might not the truth be told in such a way as would irritate and rankle just a little? It is always the prodigals whom the servants love. It is always the prodigals they like to serve. And there would be just a touch of pleasing malice in it, when they told the elder brother what had happened. "And he was angry, and would not go in." It was partly the servants' tone that made him angry. He took his report of that most glorious night from men who knew nothing of its inner mystery. And what I say is that it is often so, and that there are multitudes outside today because they have taken the report of others who are incapable of judging rightly. Are you quite sure that your reports of Jesus are taken from those who know Him and who love Him? Are you quite sure that in your thoughts of Christ there is no travesty of what is true? You must especially beware of that, young man, in an age like this when everyone is talking, and when a thousand judgments are passed on Jesus Christ by men who have never touched His garment's hem. I beg of you to believe that in the Gospel there is something that lies beyond the reach of intellect. There is something which is never understood except by those who have experienced it. And therefore if you are in earnest and are wise you will take no verdict upon the cross of Christ, except the verdict of the man or woman who has experienced its saving power.
He Missed What He Most Needed
So far then on the older brother's reasons. Now will you let me show you what he missed? Well, to begin with, you must all agree with me that the man missed just what he most needed. Think of it, his day's work was over. He was coming home in the evening from the field. Like a faithful servant he had been hard at work, driving the furrow or building up the fences. I honor him for that quiet and steady toil, and for being not above the servant's duty. There would be more prosperous farms and prosperous businesses, if sons today would follow his example. Now the labors of the day were over. "The ploughman homewards wends his weary way." And he was hungry and he needed food. He was weary and he needed rest. He was soiled and stained with his day's work, and he wanted a change of raiment in the evening--and all that he needed in that evening hour was stored and treasured in his father's house. "And he was angry, and would not go in. "He missed the very things that he was needing. All that would freshen him and make him strong again, he lost because he stayed outside the door. He was a soiled, weary, and hungry man, and everything was ready for the taking, yet no one forced him to the taking of it when he deliberately stood without. Is not that always the pity of it, when a man refuses the love of Jesus Christ? Is he not missing just what he most needs, and needs the more, the more he has been faithful? For all of us are soiled and we need cleansing; and all of us are weak and we need strength, and all of us are hungering and thirsting, and Christ alone can satisfy that hunger. My brother and sister, I want you to come in not to please me, but for your own sake first. I want you to come in, because just what you need now is waiting you in Christ. I want you to come in because that heart of yours is restless and unsatisfied and hungry; because when you were tempted last you fell, and you are missing the very thing you need.
He Missed the Joy
But not only did the man miss what he needed; he also missed the merriment and gladness. He missed what some folk would not miss for worlds--he missed an excellent dance and a good supper. Think of him, standing out under the stars, a man alone and out of touch with everybody. Have not you felt it when there was some fine gathering, and you were not one of the invited? And then, to make it worse to bear, the sound of the music floated through the yard, and he could see how happy they all were, as the figures passed beyond the lighted window. The man was bitten by the fiercest jealousy. He was hurt; he was offended; he was miserable. Everyone was joyous except him. Everyone was in the light but he. And the strange thing is that in all the countryside there was not a man who would have been more welcome, nor one who had a better right and title to the gladness and the feasting of the night. Ah! what a right some of you have to know the joy and feasting of the Lord! How you have been prayed for since you were little children! How hearts at home have yearned for you in tears! And yet today you are the very one--you who have had an upbringing like that--who stand without, and will not enter in, and miss the gladness of the Lord Jesus Christ. I want you to come right in tonight. You are far more lonely than some people think. I want you to have the gladness of religion, instead of your little petty evanescent gladness. I want you to feel that in the love of Christ, with all its strengthening and all its saving, there is just that deep strong joy that you are missing, and always will miss till you pass the door. "I am the door," said Jesus. "By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved" (Joh. 10:9).
He Missed a Chance to Serve
Then tell me, did he not miss one thing more? Did he not miss his chance of making others happy? Although I daresay he never thought it so, his absence was the one shadow on that feast. He was not, I take it, a very lovable person, and for that matter perhaps you are not that either. He was not at all the kind of man we know, who is the life and soul of any gathering. And yet that night--that night and that alone--his presence would have been the crowning gladness; his absence was the one dark shadow upon a happiness which was like that of heaven. Do you think the prodigal could be at peace until his brother had come in and welcomed him? Could the father be happy when there was one wanting, one whom he loved and honored for his toil? And all the time, bitter and angry-hearted, the man outside was missing his great chance, a chance that it is worth living years to win--the chance of making other people happy. Have you ever thought, young men and women, of the happiness you would give by coming in? If you have never thought of it before, I want you to think of it today. What of your mother, who has toiled and prayed for you? What of your father, though he never says much? What of that friend whose eyes would be so different if you were but a faithful soul in Christ? What of the angels in their ranks and choirs who are waiting to rejoice when you are saved? What of Jesus Christ, the Lover of mankind, who would see of the travail of His soul and would be satisfied? I beg of you not to miss your opportunity. It is a great vocation to make others glad. I would call you to it even if it were hard, and meant the sacrifice of what was dearest. But the wonderful thing about our Lord is this, that when you trust Him, and make others glad, in that very hour you become glad yourself, and win what you have craved for all along.
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