Faithlife Sermons

Prodigal Son

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I used to go....How are we to view those who used to go?
Scripture NLT
I am on a Courtroom drama Kick…I don’t know why but after watching for a few minutes I get sucked into the curiosity of who is going to win or lose the case. Will right prevail will the offending party pay the price?
I am on a Courtroom drama Kick…I don’t know why but after watching for a few minutes I get sucked into the curiosity of who is going to win or lose the case. Will right prevail will the offending party pay the price?
In a courtroom drama it seems like the bad guy always loses, and has to pay a hefty settlement or go to jail for the evil deed.
Something inside of me gets a sense of satisfaction knowing that at least in a 45 min drama justice was done.
If we are honest I think all of us like it when people get what coming to them. We like it when the bad guy goes to jail, the cheater is found out and the evil doer is brought to justice.
I think that is why in this passage the Character of the father is not necessarily the one we focus on. I think this is true because in this case The story does not end like it should.
The offending party does not seem to get whats coming to him. Actually he seems to get away with wasting his inheritance and then getting off scot free.
The Fathers actions just don’t seem to make sense. It seems like he just doesn’t care…better yet it seems like the Father is condoning this behaviour.
Yet upon further scrutiny what we really see is a Dad that is willing to do whatever he can to keep the family together…
Which makes Love more Heroic than our view of Justice.
The real Hero in this passage IS the Father…
Love is more heroic than our view of Justice.
WHY
The most Heroic thing a Follower of Jesus can do is choose Radical Love when we want Vindictive Justice…
Keeping the family together often looksFollowers of Jesus that are willing to do whatever it takes to keep the family of God together are often misunderstood, face opposition.
When we focus on dad instead of seeing a permisive father we shold see
The most Heroic thing a Follower of Jesus can do is choose Radical Love when we want Vindictive Justice…
So, instead of looking at this story and focusing on the prodigal son, defining it by the ways the son has failed, by the ways he has been selfish, the things he has squandered, and what he has lost . . .
This story has been told numerous times. It is displayed in paintings hung in the most prestigious art museums around the world. It has been retold by in every format from novels to cartoon vegetables.
The danger of stories that become so familiar to us is that we tend to look at them the same way, with the same eyes. We tend to approach them with the same biases and come away from them with the same understandings. Even if the story is retold by a cartoon cucumber and his tomato friend, we still often see the story the same way.
We tend to view this story by focusing on the prodigal son. We tell it and understand it as the story of the son who left the riches of his father’s home to go out on his own, where he ended up squandering everything he had and, in an act of desperation, feeding the pigs and being forced to return home.
We may have also viewed this as a story of two brothers. The older one is more responsible but less loving: jealous of the grace bestowed upon his reckless younger brother. The older brother could have asked to receive his inheritance as well, if you caught that in the text, yet he chose to stay home and help manage the property, something that would have been expected of the older brother.
These approaches to the story are good ways to view them, and both have ways to challenge us into deeper discipleship with Jesus, challenging us not to look down on others who may come to Christ from more of a circuitous path than we did, or challenging us to finally give up the life of pig-feeding to come home. And still many of us read it with the bias of “I’m grateful I’m neither of these brothers.”
But, since it is Lent, a season that is supposed to be a time of repentance and growth, what if we take some time to repent of our biases and read this story anew with the intent to grow? What if we look at this story with new eyes, in a new way?
Or what if, instead of looking at this story and focusing on the two brothers, one defined by his recklessness and the other by his jealousy . . . What if, instead, we look at this as the story of the loving father?
Copyright © 2018 The Foundry Publishing. Permission to print, distribute, and copy for church use only. All rights reserved.
So, instead of looking at this story and focusing on the prodigal son, defining it by the ways the son has failed, by the ways he has been selfish, the things he has squandered, and what he has lost . . . Or what if, instead of looking at this story and focusing on the two brothers, one defined by his recklessness and the other by his jealousy . . . What if, instead, we look at this as the story of the loving father?
This passages
BODY
Asking for one’s inheritance is like saying things would be better without you here.
It was the expectation that Jewish men would control their estate while they were alive. It would have been shameful for an heir to request his inheritance prior to the father’s death.
While shameful for the son to ask for his inheritance early, it would have been equally shameful, if not more so, for the father to actually give the inheritance to his son.
In rare cases, the father might divide his land for his sons to manage while he was still alive, but would be the father’s choice; it would not be the children’s place to ask for it.
2. Shows the absolutely radical generosity of the father.
The story never says the father asks the intentions of the son.
Despite that shame would be brought upon him, he is still generous to his son.
In spite of the son essentially telling the father, “I wish you were dead,” the father still grants the son his request.
Most parents know if their children are spenders or savers. (Caleb Is a Saver…First paycheck)
i.The father probably had some idea of how the son would use his inheritance. ii.Yet the father still gave him his inheritance out of his heart of generosity.
i.The father probably had some idea of how the son would use his inheritance. ii.Yet the father still gave him his inheritance out of his heart of generosity.
3. The father is just.
We can infer that the father is just and compassionate because, even though the younger son has squandered all of his wealth and is starving to death, the son is longing to be one of his father’s well-cared-for servants.
The Father’s servants are fed enough, seemingly, even during a famine.
ii. It seems that even during times of scarcity, the father ensures that his servants are fed.
The son knows that even if he comes home as a servant, he will be well cared for.
i. This implies that the father is not cruel or unkind to his servants but treats them justly.
Copyright © 2018 The Foundry Publishing. Permission to print, distribute, and copy for church use only. All rights reserved.
4. The father is patient.
a. The text says that “while the son was still a long way off, the father saw him.”
The only way he would have seen him would be if he was looking for him. Day after day after day.
The only way he would have seen him would be if he was looking for him. Day after day after day.
I have to tell you I can relate to this…I look forward to time with my son...
While we don’t know how long it takes the son to squander his funds and come to a place of destitution, we know people in our lives we would describe as prodigals, and it can take years, decades, for them to hit rock bottom. Which means the father was potentially waiting and looking for his son for years.
Even if it wasn’t for years, the loss of a son, and the grief that can cause to a good and loving parent, would have felt like a lifetime, yet he kept looking.
5. The Father is compassionate.
a. When the father saw his son, he had compassion on him.
i. The word “compassion” here is a strong word, meaning to be moved in the inward parts. He was moved to the very core of his being to act in love toward his son.
Compassion is different from enabling. Compassion comes in the act of helping people pick up the broken pieces of their lives…not helping them to continue to live in a sinful way.
b. This compassion caused the father to run toward his son.
i. We are not given an indication of the age of the father, but if the son was gone for years, it is very likely he is an aged man.
ii. The word “run” here is the same word that would be used to describe an athlete in a race. He is running—not jogging, but running—with full force and purpose to get to his son.
iii. He is so overcome with compassion that he does not wait for the son to get to him; he goes to his son as quickly as he possibly can.
6. The father forgives lavishly.
The son doesn’t even finish his speech before the father is having him adorned like royalty, reclaiming him as his son.
He doesn’t ask where he was, where the money is, or how he ended up smelling like pigs; he just welcomes him home. (This is a big deal…the act of embracing his son who had lived with the pigs would have made the father unclean by Jewish standards.)
The wanderings of the prodigal son are never once mentioned by the father.
7. The father loves extravagantly.
a. The response to the son coming home is a party.
This party includes food and celebration.
If this were still during a famine, and if that famine impacted this family, he still sought to celebrate the son with extravagance.
b. He doesn’t allow the older brother to ruin the party. (Gardners Mad that the Kasendecks were coming back to the Church)
FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT 3 MARCH 31, 2019
Copyright © 2018 The Foundry Publishing. Permission to print, distribute, and copy for church use only. All rights reserved.
i. When the brother is jealous, he invites him back into the party.
ii. He reiterates the love he has for both of his children.
iii. He speaks of celebration and rejoicing at the younger son being found.
8. This is the way God cares for us.
God erases the shame of feeling like prodigals.
ii. We move into feelings of shame. iii. God removes those feelings from us.
iii. God removes those feelings from us.
Despite our failings, God is still generous.
Despite our failings, God is still generous.
Despite our failings, God is still generous.
He grants us blessings, maybe not of material wealth, but he is generous in his gifts to us.
Though we often would say to God, “I’d rather you were dead,” he still continues to give us good things.
God is just.
God is just.
God is patient with us.
God is patient with us.
i. We fail time and time again, yet God continually watches and waits for us.
God is compassionate.
God is compassionate.
God seeks us out, and while he waits for us to return to him, he meets us along the road.
God seeks us out, and while he waits for us to return to him, he meets us along the road.
He runs towards us.
God forgives.
i. He doesn’t bring up our past misdeeds but forgives and forgets.
g. God loves extravagantly. i. We are celebrated when we come to God.
We do not need to live in the shame of our past, or in jealousy over the grace we see given to others. We can sit in the promise that we follow a God of deep compassion, love, and forgiveness.
We too are to live with a Heroic Love...
We do not need to live in the shame of our past, or in jealousy over the grace we see bestowed upon others. We can sit in the promise that we follow a God of deep compassion, love, and forgiveness.
We can walk toward God as God runs toward us with an embrace of comfort and compassion. We don’t need to even finish our speech of contrition before God begins to wrap us in his arms, for he is a good Father who loves us with complete abandon and is just waiting to see us approach home.
As a response to the Heroic Love of the Father
We too are to live with a Heroic Love toward the Prodigal...
This extends to the way we treat the perceived prodigals in our own lives. If we are to respond to God by repenting like the Prodigal did then we must also make it easy for those we know who have chosen a life that has separated them from us by being:
Generous, Just, Patient, Compassionate, Forgiving, Loving and Celebratory
What if instead of accepting that they are receiving what they deserve what if we decided to pray for them, hope for them, and above all look for them?
Who in your life needs heroic love? What prodigal in your life needs you to forgive them and celebrate them?
Write the name of that person on and bring it to whatever we have as we come to the table…We Still pray before each service and We are going to leave this in here to remind us of the prodigals in our life…we are going to pray for them crying out for their return and when the do we are not going to say I told you so but instead remove them from this board...
Take time to write one or several names of people that have left or are simply away from God and the Church…Then clothe pin their name on this board as you come to the table.
Communion
Prayer for food and closing.
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