A Father’s Love
VIDEO – The Prodigal Son, A Father’s Love.
When I was in high school and working at Chick-fil-A we were always the last group to leave the mall
The security guards would close the upper parking lot before we were finished, so one person would go up and bring everyone else’s car down and park it in the regular parking lot
One evening I gave my Dad’s car keys to the one employee who was bringing everyone’s car down
I asked if she knew how to drive a stick shift and she said, “Yes!”
Within the half hour I got the news that she had driven my Dad’s Ford Bronco II into the cement base of the light that I had parked under
I was so afraid to call my Dad, but I did anyhow
I remember crying as I told him what happened
His response was love, care, and concern for me and not the car
He wanted to make sure that I was alright
If you were here on May 23, 2021 you heard my Father begin the message by telling you how proud he was of his children
They are all serving the Lord in some capacity
He told you about how my brother had been an alcoholic for 16 years
My Dad and Mom never stopped loving him and praying for him
The love and prayers are what sustained my brother through a very difficult time in his life
He returned to the Lord and has an active, intimate relationship with Jesus
I know that some of us here, this morning, could tell similar stories about our father’s
We would be able to share how our fathers were loving, caring, and concerned about us, instead of a car or some other material possession that was ruined on our watch
I’m also aware that there are those of us, here today, that don’t have any good memories of our fathers
Our fathers were harsh, unkind, and unloving
Perhaps they were verbally, mentally and/or physically abusive
We don’t want anything to do with our fathers
Jesus told three parables in Luke 15 about lost things (lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son). We’re going to focus on the lost son this morning, because it talks about human beings and relationships. Jesus used the parable to illustrate God the Father’s love, card, and concern for us as human beings. Since God the Father is holy (perfect) we can look to Him, especially when our earthly fathers have failed us, or after our earthly fathers have passed on. Luke wants us to understand that . . .
BIG IDEA – God never stops loving us.
GOD (Luke 15:11-24)
Rebellion (vv. 11-16)
Financial windfall (vv. 11-13a)
Most of us would probably say that we expect some kind of inheritance from our parents
Proverbs 13:22, A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.
1 Timothy 5:8, If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
We would probably agree that we don’t really talk about our inheritance, though
The Lord has blessed Judy and I
My parents have talked to my brother, sister, and I about various furniture pieces in their house, so they know what we would like to have when they’re gone
I’ve told my parents that there isn’t anything I have to have
I’m content to have whatever is leftover – the sentimental value is more important to me than the item itself
I’ve heard stories of that not being the case in some families – there are fights and hard feelings after the individual passes away, because more than one person wants a particular item
In this parable, the younger son makes an uncharacteristic request
In the Ancient Near East it was not common practice to divide the inheritance prior to death
That normally happened after the patriarch was gone
The younger son wanted his share of the estate while his father was still living
We begin to see the character and love of the father at the very beginning of this parable
He grants the younger son’s request
The father divided his property between the older and younger son
The older son received double the inheritance – two-thirds
Deuteronomy 22:17, He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double share of all he has. That is the first sign of his father’s strength. The right of the firstborn belongs to him.
The younger son would only receive one-third
That was enough for him
I can only imagine what the younger son was saying prior to receiving his portion of the estate
Perhaps it’s the same things we hear today from our own children
“I can’t wait to leave this house and be out on my own!”
“I can’t stand being a part of this family, I want to move out!”
While it was certainly not the desire or wish of the father, he lovingly grants the younger sons request
Liquidating his portion of the estate
Not long after that . . .
The younger son had to have time to liquid his portion of the estate
He didn’t waste any time
Certainly part of his inheritance included property and land
He had to sell that, so he could have the money he desired
Once he had the money in hand, he was ready to move out and move on
“Schrenk (TDNT 5:983-84) perceptively suggests that this image pictures the heavenly Father letting the sinner go his own way.” [Bock, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Luke 9:51-24:53, 1310]
PRINCIPLE #1 – God allows us to pursue our free will.
God never forces human beings to be in a relationship with Him
His desire is that we will want to be in a relationship with Him, since He created us
Jeremiah 31:3, The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with lovingkindness.
Acts 17:27-28, God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
John 1:12, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Most of us know of someone who is currently pursuing their own free will
As followers of Jesus Christ, we know what God’s desire is and that’s what makes it so difficult to watch a loved one pursue the things of this world instead the Lord
We can certainly give them sound advice
We can also pray for them
Never stop loving them and letting them know that you love them
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Pray for the person I know who is pursuing their free will and let them know I love them.
We’ll see that the father, in this parable, never stopped loving his son
The younger son has sold all of his inheritance and has the money in hand – now it’s time to leave
Freedom (v. 13b)
The younger son left for a distant country and wasted his wealth on wild living
Out on our own
Most of us didn’t move to a distant country – although most mothers would say that having their child move out of state is like them moving to a distant country
Do you remember what you did when you were finally out on your own?
Whether it was renting your first apartment or going off to college, do you remember what you decided to do or not do, since you were independent?
I remember deciding to stay up as late as I wanted, although my parents pretty much let me do that the last two years of high school (I just remember not feeling guilty about)
I know that other young people decided that they were no longer going to go to church
Others made decisions about what they would eat or drink, who they would hang out with, what they would watch or listen to, and perhaps how they spoke
Maybe they were already doing those things, but were guarded around their parents – now they pursued those things without being guarded or feeling guilty
I’m sure life was grand, for the younger son, until the money ran out
Famine (vv. 14-16)
To make things worse, the country where he was currently living experienced a severe famine
The young man had no money and now there was no food
He did want he needed to do to survive
He hired himself out
We have to remember the setting in which Jesus is telling this parable
Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2)
The Pharisees and teachers of the law were concerned with who Jesus was welcoming and who He was eating with
Jesus was trying to help them understand that they needed to be reaching the lost, which required welcoming them and eating with them
The Jewish religious leaders would have struggled with one of their sons feeding pigs
Pigs were considered unclean animals, which had to be avoided
Although the young man had a job, no one gave him anything
He probably had some meager wages, but was still having trouble finding food to buy
The famine was so severe that he was still going hungry
Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom, before we realize what we had when we lived at home
That’s exactly what happened with this young man
Repentance (vv. 17-20a)
Wisdom (v. 17)
This young man knew that the men his father hired were not starving like him
In fact, they had food to spare
These hired men were not even family, yet they were well taken care
Wisdom is “the ability to use your knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgments.” [https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/wisdom]
This young man used his knowledge of his father’s household and his current experience, of starving to death, to make a good decision to humble himself and return home
Humility (vv. 18-19)
We see humility in the rehearsed statement he is planning to share with his father
Recognizing that his desire to pursue his own free will, by requesting his portion of the estate and then wasting it on wild living, was sin, and that showed great humility on his part
Humility is not an easy characteristic to achieve, because it requires the acknowledgment of wrong
It requires that we repent and own our faults
The young man realized that he had not only sinned against his father, but also against God
We also see his humility in the fact that he was willing to be considered a hired hand instead of family
He had disgraced his family’s name, through his wild living
Even though he had done these things in a distant country, word had gotten back to his family
We see that in the older son’s response to his father
“But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” (Luke 15:30)
When this young man comes to his senses, he doesn’t hesitate
Action (v. 20a)
He got up and went to his father
He left his job of feeding pigs
He left the distant country where he had pursued his own free will to return to his father’s house
PRINCIPLE #2 – With wisdom and humility comes repentance and restoration.
The young man was ready to repent, which showed great wisdom and humility on his part
Perhaps that’s where some of us are at today
We have been pursuing our own free will
We have turned away from our family and from God
We have sinned against heaven and our families
We have separated ourselves from those who love us and support us (family and God)
It’s not too late to pursue wisdom and humility and to repent and return
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Recognize my sin, repent of it, and return to the Lord and my family.
We see the humility of the son in returning home, but we also see the humility of the father in his response
Restoration (vv. 20b-24)
Compassion (v. 20b)
The son hasn’t even gotten to his father’s estate yet, but the father sees him
This tells us that the father was looking for the son every day
His desire was that his son would return home
PRINCIPLE #3 – No matter how sinful you are, God waits patiently and lovingly for you to return to him.
The father was filled with compassion
He never stopped loving his son
The same is true of God – He never stops loving us
God’s desire is that we return to Him
In the culture of the day, a father would never have run
He definitely wouldn’t have run to embrace a son who had humiliated and brought disgrace on the family name
And yet, that’s exactly what this father did
He expressed his love for his son by hugging and kissing him
Too often men are stoic when it comes to expressing their love, even for their children
How many times have we heard adult children say that their father never told them that he loved them?
Father’s will tell us that their children knew they loved them, even if they didn’t say it
Guess what, guys? Our children need to hear us say that we love them
It’s not too late to tell them that, even if they are grown
My challenge for father’s today is to take time this week to reach out to your children and tell them that you love them
Their response may be, “Dad, have you been diagnosed with a terminal illness?” “Are you going to die?”
It may come as a shock to them, but I encourage you to do it anyway, and continue to do it!
Perhaps there are those here today who didn’t have a loving father
Our fathers may have passed away, so we’ll never hear them say that they love us
I want to encourage those of us, who are experiencing that, with these words from Scripture
Psalm 103:13-18, As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
God never stops loving us.
The son repents and receives forgiveness and restoration
Forgiveness (vv. 21-24)
The son only gets to share the first half of his rehearsed statement
It’s the most important part – repentance!
He tells his father that he has sinned against heaven and against him
He is no longer worthy to be called his son
He never gets to express his willingness to forfeit his status as a son and be considered a hired hand
What we see next is the restoration of this young man to the family unit
The father won’t consider his son anything but family
The items requested by the father were for family only (best robe, ring, sandals)
Hired hands didn’t receive these items – most hired hands didn’t wear any shoes
PRINCIPLE #4 – God restores us when we repent.
Sin separates us from God (Rom. 3:23; Rom. 6:23)
Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection enables us to have that relationship restored (2 Cor. 5:18-21, All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God)
Children of God (John 1:12, Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.)
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Repent of my sins and become a child of God.
The father instructs the servants to bring the fattened calf and kill it
A celebration is about to begin
The father is celebrating the fact that the son, he thought he had lost through death, is alive and has returned!
There is a celebration every time someone repents and returns to the Lord
Luke 15:7, I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Luke 15:10, In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
God is poised and ready to start the celebration when you repent and turn to Him
Today is that day!
Who do you know that is pursuing their own free will? (are you praying for them and have you told them you love them?)
Are you ready to pursue wisdom and humility and repent and return to the Lord? (God is waiting patiently and lovingly for you to return to Him.)
God is ready to restore you, are you ready to repent?
As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to love those who are pursuing the things of this world.
Who do we need to love today?
“I will never forget the man’s face that June afternoon as he sat there on those hard bleacher seats in the high school football stadium. The hot sun was constantly pulling sweat from his body and turning his face a nice shade of pink. He was oblivious. His eyes focused on one young man on the football field. ‘What’s up?’ I whispered. ‘I am waiting for my son. Soon he will cross the stage and get his honors diploma. Then it is off to college on a full academic scholarship. We are so proud of him.’
Two years later I met the same man. He called me to go with him. We rode in silence up the interstate to the university town. We met a lawyer and walked across the street to the county jail ‘What’s up?’ I finally asked. ‘I am waiting for my son,’ he sniffed, trying to hold back the tears. ‘Police picked him up for shoplifting. Afraid he is on drugs, too.’
Just a few months ago, I met my friend yet again. This time I was seated in a beautiful little church. The man stood by his son at the front looking up the aisle. If I could have whispered again, ‘What’s up?’ he would have whispered back, ‘I am waiting for my son to get married. His beautiful, vivacious bride will be walking down the aisle toward us in just a minute. I am so proud of him. This time I have been waiting ten years, but finally the wait is over. Drugs, alcohol, and jail are all behind him. He is back in church and thinking about going into the ministry. I am so excited.’
This father can read Luke 15 with special understanding. He knows what it means to wait for a prodigal son. He can identify with all the emotions that run through the father after he watched his son disappear down the long road to oblivion. Now he knows the joy of seeing the son come back, penitent and sad, seeking another chance at life. He knows the joy of running to the returning son with outstretched arms, ready to plant a big kiss on him. He truly understands party time. Now each day is a celebration as he experiences the joy of finding a lost sinner, reconciling with a lost son.
Our Father in heaven still stands at the corner looking for another lost child to come home . . . You have a heavenly Father who loves you that much. His open arms wait for you to see that you are a lost sinner needing to come home to Abba, your daddy in heaven. The party can be ready in a flash if you will come. Having come home and enjoyed the party, then you can join the Father at the corner watching for more lost children to come home . . . You can sit beside the elder brother and show him how much the Father has always loved him even if he never got around to party time. You can let the joy flow as you seek the lost and watch as the Father saves them.
[Butler, Holman New Testament Commentary, Luke, 253-54].