Father’s Day 17′ Luke 15 Sermon INTRODUCTION
What Jesus was doing earlier in this chapter of Luke was exposing the self-righteousness of the Pharisees. They were complaining that Jesus associated himself with tax collectors and prostitutes. Jesus then went on to give them two parables: the parable of the lost sheep, how the shepherd leaves the 99 to get the 1, and the woman who has ten silver coins, but when she loses 1, she lights a lamp and sweeps the entire house, and searches carefully until she finds it. This was Jesus’ description of how much he loves the lost, then he gives the Pharisees an extended parable, that we know as the story of the prodigal son.
Luke 15:11-19 (NLT) 11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. 17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.” ’
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Lk 15:11–19). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
The key in this story, the rebel son came to his senses, and came back to the Father.
The heart of the Father is for lost souls to come to their senses
Once you become a Christian, God establishes a love relationship with you. He is your Father and nothing can ever change that, because your salvation is based on the completed work of Christ on the cross, not our performance. But if you choose to rebel and disobey the Father, He’ll allow it. If you choose to reject the free gift of salvation given only through Christ, God won’t put a gun to your head and make you choose Christ’s forgiveness. However, he is always looking and seeking for His Children to return to Him. Fathers, we can relate to our children in the way God relates to us.
So you know what I have started to do every day? Fathers, I have started to pray specifically for godly wisdom in being a father, and in many other things:
5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.
Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Jas 1:5).
This son was supposed to represent his father in an honorable fashion and influence people for good as they saw the honor of the father in Him..This son didn’t do this! Eventually though, he came to his senses, but did he go home, or did pride stop him?
Luke 15:20-24 (NLT)
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
while the rebel son was still a long way off, the father ran to him! Then it says, “he was filled with compassion and he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
The Greek verb there indicates he kept on kissing him. We would say he “smothered him with kisses.” The verb is καταφιλέω kataphileō kä-tä-fē-le’-ō, which means to kiss much, kiss again and again, and to kiss tenderly.
In the Jewish culture, men wore long robes. In order for a man to run, he had to lift the hem up and hold it high to keep from tripping over it. In doing so, he would bare his legs, which was considered highly undignified. Men of respect never ran; it would have been embarrassing. But can’t you see this father grabbing handfuls of robe and running toward his son? He didn’t wait for the son to reach him, he ran to meet the son. He hugged and kissed his rebellious son before the son said one word! Remember the son had been working in the pigpen. He looked and smelled awful, not exactly the kind of person you want to hug and kiss! The father could have said, Clean yourself up before you come into this house!” But instead, the father accepted him “just as he was.” The Father loved this rebel son at his lowest, at his stinkiest!
The Father loves us even at our stinkiest
When the son in this story finally came to his senses in the pigpen, he said three things in verse 21: “I have sinned against heaven, I have sinned against you, and said I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” The first two were correct; the last answer was false. It may have sounded good on the surface, but there is a mistake in his thinking. He never WAS worthy to be called a son of his father!!! It was all by grace! And in the same way, none of us are ever worthy to be called children of God–it is all by grace. The father refused to entertain the idea his son would be a servant. Immediately the father commanded his servants to bring the best robe. He took that beautiful robe and lovingly placed it around his son, covering all the filth and dirt of his mistakes. That’s a lovely picture of how God covers our sin with a robe of righteousness. Sons often wore family rings that had the family seal engraved upon it. Stamping the ring in wax was like a signature. As I read this I couldn’t help but think of
2 Corinthians 1:21-23 (NLT) 21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.
This is a revolutionary portrayal of God. With tender words of compassion He is saying to you: “When you start home, I’ll meet you more than halfway.”
Charles Spurgeon described this scene. He wrote:
God comes flying in the greatness of His compassion to help every poor soul that returns to Him.” —- Spurgeon.
So, we worship a God who grieves over our rebellion and runs to us when we return. And you know what I’ve thought about? Jesus did for us exactly what this Father did. Jesus rushed through time and space, through the heavens to us. Basically, Jesus becoming one of us was like the Pacific Ocean being squeezed into a Sprite bottle, the bottle being our lowly human frames made out of dust. Just like the Father in the story lifted his robe and ran to his Son, Christ stripped himself of all his rights as the Son of God; his love has no dignity. Jesus IS what God is really like because God is fully revealed through the miracles, teaching, life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Christ Jesus:
Hebrews 2:14-18 (NLT)
14 Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. 15 Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.16 We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. 18 Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
If we make idols out of our guilt and we try to determine how worthy we are or are NOT to receive the Father’s love, we are still in error because we exalt our feelings over the blood of Christ. Our plain and simple response to what Christ has done should be one of godly sorrow; of simply wanting to set things right through the power of God working in us:
2 Corinthians 7:10-11 (NLT)
10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 11 Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.
The son finally took real action to make things right. We see that he `has returned to the father and the father has run to the son. But this is the younger son. What about the older son who had always been faithful?
Luke 15:25-32 (NLT) 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ 31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
During those years when the younger son only had the fellowship of pagans and pigs, the older brother had the fellowship of his father. We would be wise to learn two different ways of viewing mercy and grace from the two brothers. The older son failed to realize that he should’ve extended mercy to his brother, because his father extended mercy to Him.
Let us give mercy because we’ve been given mercy
The sins of these two sons were very different in their outward manifestations, but inwardly they had the same roots. We quickly grant that stealing, murder, rape, and violence are wrong, especially when they are perpetrated on us. But Jesus goes on to show us in the gospels that prayer, giving, preaching, or showing charity can be sinful when the motive of the heart is wrong. The older brother was still a prodigal, he was still a runaway child in his heart, even though he lived at home. Let us be careful to be in love with the Father, not for what he does for us, let’s be careful not to love what we do FOR Him more than Him. Also, fathers, let’s remember to give grace and mercy to our children, and to our brothers in Christ because we’ve been given grace and mercy.
Ask the Father to remind you of the mercy he’s already given you through his Son’s blood. Remind yourself of biblical passages that deal specifically with us being saved by grace, through mercy:
Ephesians 2:1-5 (NLT)
2 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
TRANSITION to Benediction/Altar Call
In this parable, the Father showed great mercy to both sons. In this room today are some rebellious sons and daughters. I want to tell you that if you don’t have a relationship with God the Father, through the means he has provided through his Son Jesus, the Bible says that you are spiritually dead. You cannot save yourself; only the blood of Jesus can save you from the wrath of God that is poured out on sin itself, and poured out on sinners who refused to repent, and who will spend eternity in hell. But you don’t have to spend your eternity separated from a holy God. Won’t you come?