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The Younger Son

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Think of a time when someone extended grace to you? Well what is grace? Grace is getting something we don’t deserve. I’ll give you an example from my life when somebody extended grace to me. As many of you know I served in the army reserves for 10 years. When I just a little more than a month removed from basic training and in my first semester of college I drove this old giloppi ,as many of my first cars were, This was a black Pontiac Grand Prix I can’t remember the year may be late 80’s early 90’s model with a digital speedometer. The speedometer worked some of the time but most of the time it didn’t. I was on my way to what we call in the reserves our drill weekend. It was time for me to be a weekend warrior. On this particular morning my speedometer didn’t work. As I was cruising down the highway I noticed the blue flashing lights come up behind me so I pulled over. The officer comes to the window and asks the question do you know why I pulled you over? No I responded. Do you know how fast you were going? Remember the speedometer is broken, so my response was again no. Judging by his response of well why not your the driver, I don’t think he liked my answer. He took my license and registration and went back to his cruiser. After what seemed like an eternity he came back and said now I had you flying through here at more than 30mph above the posted speed limit but I bumped your speed down to just 20 mph so I could give you a ticket and not have to arrest you. I thanked the officer and went on my way. Wait you still got punished how is that grace? The officer according to the law would have been well within his rights to have my car towed and have me arrested for going that fast. He extended grace I thankfully do not have an arrest record, and I still learned an expensive lesson.
As we wrap up our series on the prodigal son see God’s amazing grace at work throughout his story. When the younger son comes to the end of himself, when he reaches his deepest point of need God’s grace is there. When he returns home God’s grace is there. God’s grace is there and it is sufficient. It’s only the amazing grace of God that can change, transform the vilest offenders.
It is all because of God’s amazing grace that an arrogant, selfish pig farmer can be transformed, restored back to a son. We started this series with the challenge to be more like the father in this story, but we cannot reflect the love and grace of the father without first becoming like the younger son. As we hear the story of the prodigal son one more time think of the amazing grace God has extended to you and how has it changed and how it is changing your life.

The Younger Son

As the scribes and pharisees pressed Jesus on why he keeps company with tax collectors, prostitutes, and other wretched sinners, He continues to tell this story. There was a father who had two sons. The younger son came to his father and said I want to get out of this place, out from under your rules, and away from this place to see what the world out there has to offer me. Give me my share of the inheritance so I can get out of here. After all its my money and I want it now! The father met the demands of his younger son and gave him his inheritance.
The younger son full of himself, and arrogant left home and went as far away as his chevrolegs would take him. He settled in a far away country and squandered his inheritance living recklessly. He spent his inheritance indulging on his own selfish desires. He really thought he had the world on a string, throwing wild parties with his friends, and engaging in all sorts of reckless behavior. Eventually he blew through all of his inheritance there was nothing left. He had squandered it all. Broke with a loss of pride the younger son looks for work. Eventually he finds work, work that is the lowest job a young Jewish man can have. He found work working on a pig farm, this made the younger son as unclean as unclean can get.
During this time a famine had hit the land and food was scarce. The younger son who so full of himself, arrogantly left home was now not only broke but he was now broke and starving. With nobody providing food for him, he went to work to feed the pigs. As he dumped buckets of food for the pigs to eat he stood there and watched desiring to eat the pig food. Broke, starving at rock bottom, at the end of his own resources, he came to himself, or perhaps more appropriately he came to the end of himself. At the end of himself, he is reminded of the life he left behind in his father’s house. He remembers how much better off a servant in his father’s house is than his current situation. He says to himself I will return to my father’s house. I will say to my father I have sinned against heaven and against you and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Please make me like one of your hired servants.
The Arrogance the younger son left home with was gone. Empty of any selfish ambition and pride the younger son sets out on the journey home with a broken spirit and contrite heart. As he walked along on his journey rehearsing his lines, his father saw him while he was still a long way off.
Overwhelmed with joy, love and grace at the sight of his youngest son returning home, the father ran to meet his son. He embraced his son and kissed his neck. As the father embraced his son the younger son says to the father, “Father I have sinned against heaven and against you and I am no longer worthy to be called your son, make me as one of your hired servants.” With a broken spirit and contrite heart the younger son has returned home. The father didn’t meet the request of his younger son. He didn’t make him like one of his servants.
The father so full of love and grace for his younger son couldn’t hold back the excitement. He begins urgently telling his servants quick, quick, get me my best robe not the one reserved for servants. Quickly someone bring me my ring, and kill the fattened calf because my son who was lost has been found. My son who was dead is alive again, its time to celebrate!

The attitude of the younger son

In the parable of the prodigal son we see several attitudes at play. We see the arrogance of a young son who’s been couped up on the farm to long going to his father and demanding his share of the inheritance. Because the son has free will the freedom chose between right and wrong, the father does not argue with his younger son but gives him his share of the inheritance.
When he had blown through his inheritance and exhausted all his own resources, that arrogant attitude turned to an attitude of desperation. He became so desperate that he even took up working with pigs. He had become so hungry that he longed, craved for the foods the pigs were served. It was at this point Jesus tells this way that he came to himself. Perhaps another way this could have been translated was the end of himself. Gone was the attitude of arrogance that tells him he’s alright he has everything under control. Gone is his inheritance, his money that he so heavily relied upon, and gone are his friends. He was empty of those parts of himself that got him where he is. It was at this point that he began to think how much better do the servants in my father’s house have than me. In the younger son’s darkest hour where he no doubt feared dying of starvation, God’s prevenient grace was there. God’s prevenient grace met the younger son at his deepest point of need. This prevenient grace changed the attitude of an arrogant, reckless, son to attitude of a broken spirit and contrite heart. This grace sent him on the path to repentance and restoration. Empty of himself the younger son could finally let grace fill the emptiness. God’s grace cannot work if we continue to allow our selves to get in the way.


Have any of you ever heard of the artist Rembrandt? Yes before the tooth paste there was the artist. He painted many paintings but the one he painted just before he died has been on the front of the bulletin during this series, you’ve seen it as backgrounds in our worship. This painting is Rembrandt’s “The Return of the Prodigal Son”. In this painting he displays the father lovingly embracing his son. The painting captures the broken spirit and contrite heart the younger son now embodies. This is not the only time that Rembrandt used the parable of the prodigal son in his art.
In his younger years Rembrandt painted a portrait of him and his wife in a brothel. He painted himself as the arrogant younger son. Rembrandt had a tendency to include his face in a lot of his works. As Rembrandt painted “The Return of The Prodigal Son” he painted his old face as the loving father. Who was once the reflection of arrogance and pride at the end of his life Rembrandt could now see himself as the loving father. I want to hang this painting as a reminder to us to always allow God’s grace to work in our lives that we may reflect the image of God our father.


God’s grace is indeed amazing. We see God’s grace at work throughout the parable of the prodigal son. We see prevenient grace that meets the younger son at his point of need. We see Justifying grace that restores him to sonship. We see the beginning works of sanctifying grace that makes him like the loving father.
We have seen that when we are full of our selves. Intent on our own understandings, on our own ambitions that we are effectively blocking God’s grace. The younger son was blind to God’s grace until he was completely empty of himself. We saw the older son bitter and angry because things were not going his way. The way he thought they should go, because of this he could not join the party. These arrogant attitudes keep the work of God’s sanctifying grace to continue to transform us to better reflect the image of God.
My challenge for each of us today is to have the broken spirit and contrite heart that the younger son displayed on his return home. Continue to empty ourselves of ourselves in order that the grace of God may continue to work and grow within us. It is my prayer that when we all reach the end of our time on earth that like Rembrandt we can paint ourselves as the loving Father.
God’s grace is there for you. God’s grace is at work in you. We just need to yield the Holy Spirit when we need to get ourselves out of the way and allow God to do what only he can do. I wanted to close with one more illustration and because God’s grace is something to be celebrated, I’d like to sing Oh for a thousand tongues to sing.

When the learned, and wealthy John Selden was dying he said to Archbishop Usher, “I have surveyed most of the learning that is among the sons of men, and my study is filled with books and manuscripts (he had 8000 volumes in his library) on various subjects. But at present I cannot recollect any passage out of all my books and papers whereon I can rest my soul, save this from the sacred Scriptures:

Titus 2:11–14 NIV84
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Titus 2:11-14

When the learned, and wealthy John Selden was dying he said to Archbishop Usher, “I have surveyed most of the learning that is among the sons of men, and my study is filled with books and manuscripts (he had 8000 volumes in his library) on various subjects. But at present I cannot recollect any passage out of all my books and papers whereon I can rest my soul, save this from the sacred Scriptures:

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