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Luke 15:11-31
During World War I a Protestant chaplain with the American troops in Italy became a friend of a local Roman Catholic priest. In time, the chaplain who moved on with his unit was killed. The priest heard of his death and asked military authorities if the chaplain could be buried in the cemetery behind his church. Permission was granted. But the priest ran into a problem with his own Catholic Church authorities. They were sympathetic, but they said they could not approve the burial of a non-Catholic in a Catholic cemetery. So the priest buried his friend just outside the cemetery fence. Years later, a war veteran who knew what had happened returned to Italy and visited the old priest. The first thing he did was ask to see the chaplain's grave. To his surprise, he found the grave inside the fence. "Ah," he said, "I see you got permission to move the body." "No," said the priest. "They told me where I couldn't bury the body. But nobody ever told me I couldn't move the fence." 
I was asked by my aunt’s sister to officiate her late husband’s funeral but was denied b/c it was in the catholic church.
Religion is always full of rules—do’s and don’ts.
Always telling you what you can’t do unless you conform to it.
People bound in religiosity are just as bound as those in sin.
Jesus said of the religious Pharisees:
Matthew 15:14 NASB95
“Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
Jesus tells this parable b/c the Pharisees were criticizing him b/c He was receiving sinners and eating w/ them.
Some say this parable was a common one of the day, told w/ a slight variation from the one Jesus tells.
Most of my life, this passage has been preached from w/the spotlight being cast upon this wayward son.
As usual, the scribes and Pharisees had their focus in the wrong place--on the sin of the younger son.
This is what religion does; it puts the focus on the person instead of God.
Jesus tells this parable in order to illustrate the love of God.
The Sons:
To ask one’s father for one’s inheritance was unheard of in antiquity, by doing so, one would be saying in effect, “I wish you were already dead.”
It needs to be noted here that the father could not just give to the younger, he must also give to the older his share.
Giving his assets to his sons was the same as if he had died.
What the older did w/ his we do not know, but Jesus said the younger took his into a far country and squandered it on prodigal living.
Prodigal means to live morally and ethically wasteful. To live in a wild and reckless manner.
The older son did not know his father any better than his younger brother; he thought favor w/ his father was something to be earned.
Both sons did not really know their father and they shared the same misconception of their father --that he was a hard task master.
The Father
V. 20 - The father had to be looking everyday for his youngest son to come home.
He didn’t even give the son a chance to come all the way home and gravel at his feet, he didn’t even give him a chance to apologize or say why he was even there.
The father ran to him - running was a breach of a Jewish man’s dignity.
Fell on him, and kissed him - The word picture in the Greek is that he kissed him again and again.
The Father was undeterred by the stench and filth that his son was covered in.
He had an alternative reaction than what the son expected; that alternative reaction was restoration.
The Restoration
The robe - righteousness.
The “best” robe would have been that of the father.
The significance here is that the son was now clothed w/ his father’s identity.
Him wearing his father’s robe was an indication to everyone else that the father had welcomed him home.
Righteousness is to be in right standing w/ God.
It is a gift we have been given by God; something we did not earn.Righteousness is not about condition; it’s about position.
2 Cor 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The ring - authority.
Rings were not just symbols of honor, they also served as symbols and marks of authority.
They were often used to mark as a seal.
Our authority is over those things and beings that would destroy us and separate us from God.
The church is the bride of Christ; as such, we are to walk in and exercise Jesus’ authority.
Matt 28:18-19 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
The sandals - freedom.
Slaves didn’t wear sandals.
The son thought he would have to come back as a servant, but remember, he didn’t truly understand the love of the father.
Too often people want to come to God as slaves not understanding that Christ has made us free.
We are now free to live as we should, not as we please.
Sin is a hard taskmaster. It seeks to enslave us.
Rom 6:16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
The fattened calf - the great celebration.
Jesus had already spoken to them about the great supper of the coming kingdom (Luke 14:15-24); therefore, his hearers would have easily understood the banquet the father gave.
Banquets such as this were known to last for days in antiquity.
The great celebration for us is eternity!
Acts 20:24 NASB95
“But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.
W/ God there is always an alternative.
Sin says “your mine, and you’ll never be free.” Grace says, “I’ll trade places w/ you and you go free.”
Religion says, “you are a failure, you don’t measure up.” Grace says, “you’re the righteousness of God.”
Religion says “ you deserve retribution” Grace says, “you’ll get restoration.”
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