Faithlife Sermons

A Father's Love

For God So Loved  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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God's children are not perfect, but His love is unwavering.

Notes
Transcript
Scripture:
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Luke 15:1–3 NASB95
Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He told them this parable, saying,
Luke 15:11b–32 NASB95
And He said, “A man had two sons. “The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. “And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. “Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. “So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. “And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. “But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! ‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” ’ “So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate. “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. “And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. “And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ “But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. “But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ “And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. ‘But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’ ”
INTRODUCTION:
How many of you have seen this picture before? How many of you see both ladies in the picture? How many of you saw the old lady first? How many saw the young lady first? How many of you knew where I was going with this picture when I first put it up?
Sometimes as pastors, we bring to you passages of scriptures that are so familiar, that you instantly think you know what we are going to say before we start. Today’s story of the prodigal son is just that familiar.
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.” The truth is, you can preach this sermon for 3 weeks focusing each week on a different character and have a great series. Perhaps one day I will do that. I enjoy preaching all aspects of this story.
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? Today we will look at it from a new perspective all together.
What if, 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 “A Father’s Love” ? Did you know that the father is mentioned twelve times? That makes him a key point of this story, but you do not often hear the story from his point of view.
2 MARCH 31, 2019FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT
Lets pray and ask God to reveal what He would have us learn about Him today.
Pray
If you are a parent, the first part of this story cuts your heart in two.
Copyright © 2018 The Foundry Publishing. Permission to print, distribute, and copy for church use only. All rights reserved.
Luke 15:11b–12 NASB95
And He said, “A man had two sons. “The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them.
What if, 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 tw 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? BODY

1. The younger son tells the Father, “I wish you were dead.”

a. Asking for one’s inheritance is like saying things would be better without you here.

1. The younger son tells the Father, “I wish you were dead.”
a. Asking for one’s inheritance is like saying things would be better without you here.

b. 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.

b. 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. c. 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. d. 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.

c. 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.

d. 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.

Despite the conventions of the day, in Jesus story we see this father
Despite the conventions of the day, in Jesus story we see this father
“divided his wealth between them (the two sons)”.
In this action we find our first view of God the father.

2. This shows the absolutely radical generosity of the father.

2. This shows the absolutely radical generosity of the father.

2. This shows the absolutely radical generosity of the father.

Now how many of you had your son or daughter ask for a large sum of money and you didn’t say, “What do you want it for?”
However...

a. The story never says the father asks the intentions of the son.

Instead, he just give it...

b. Despite the shame that would be brought upon him (the father), he is still generous to his son.

(Spoiler alert! It says the father divided the wealth between his sons. However, we only hear of the one son taking it. Remember this for later in the story.)

c. In spite of the son essentially telling the father, “I wish you were dead,” the father still grants the son his request.

d. Most parents know if their children are spenders or savers.

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.

The next thing we notice is...

3. The father is a just landowner.

Look at
Luke 15:17–19 NASB95
“But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! ‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” ’

a. 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.

b. The Father’s servants are fed enough, seemingly, even during a famine.

There is nothing to indicate that the famine was further than the son was at the time. Remember, he is in a distant land and the famine came to that land. However, the son has no way of knowing what the conditions are back home. Apparently, he feels confident that even in tough times, his father is more generous with his servants.
So...
ii. It seems that even during times of scarcity, the father ensures that his servants are fed.

c. 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.

Next we see...
Copyright © 2018 The Foundry Publishing. Permission to print, distribute, and copy for church use only. All rights reserved.

4. The father is patient.

Luke 15:20 NASB95
“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
Luke 15:20

a. The text says that “while the son was still a long way off, the father saw him.”

i. The only way he would have seen him would be if he was looking for him. Day after day after day.

ii. 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.

iii. 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.

(There could be another entire sermon here for people with prodigal children and how to respond. Never give up loving them and waiting for them to return.)
And then we see that when the son comes home, the father does not respond in anger but...

5. The Father is compassionate.

Luke 15:20 NASB95
“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
5. The Father is compassionate.
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.

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.

And then we find that...

6. The father forgives lavishly.

a. The son doesn’t even finish his speech before the father is having him adorned like royalty, reclaiming him as his son.

We see the father calls for his “best robe.” In that day, this would be a robe with sleeves in it. It was a sign of honor.
The father than calls for a ring to be put on his sons hand. This is no simple piece of jewelry. This marks him as an authority within the family. The servants are now his to command just like his dad and brother.
He is given sandals for his feet. He is no pauper, he is a landowner. A person of respect and now he is fully clothed as such.

b. He doesn’t ask where he was, where the money is, or how he ended up smelling like pigs; he just welcomes him home.

c. The wanderings of the prodigal son are never once mentioned by the father.

c. The wanderings of the prodigal son are never once mentioned by the father.
And finally, we see...

7. The father loves extravagantly.

a. The response to the son coming home is a party.

i. This party includes food and celebration.

ii. 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.

i. When the brother is jealous, he invites him back into the party.

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.

As Jesus shares this story, he is giving a picture to those around Him of the true Father of all. The Heavenly Father and how He desires to delight in us!

8. This is the way God cares for us.

a. God erases the shame of feeling like prodigals.

i. We often focus so much on being lost that we become mired in our own unworthiness.

ii. We move into feelings of shame.

iii. God removes those feelings from us.

b. Despite our failings, God is still generous.

b. Despite our failings, God is still generous.

i. He bestows upon us blessings, maybe not of material wealth, but he is generous in his gifts to us.

ii. Though we often would say to God, “I’d rather you were dead,” he still continues to give us good things.

c. God is just.

d. God is patient with us.

i. We fail time and time again, yet God continually watches and waits for us.

e. God is compassionate.

i. God seeks us out, and while he waits for us to return to him, he meets us along the road.

ii. He runs towards us.

f. 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.

I want you to close your eyes and listen to this song. As you do, imagine that you are the prodigal. It should not be hard, because the truth is, we were all prodigals at one time. We went our own ways, but a famine of some sort happened in our lives and when it did, we came running home in despair and found loving arms opened wide to us. Please listen.
When God Ran
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Akv2V5fNdk
CONCLUSION:
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 we close this service today, let me ask you, are you one of these brothers? God loves both equally so there is no need to be ashamed of the answer. Are you the prodigal wandering out in a distant land? Then today is a good day to return home. Come back to the Father who created you. You were not created by an earthly father. Look at .
Psalm 139:13–16 NASB95
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
God is the true Father waiting for you to come home.

Or maybe you are the older brother. You have been so focused on what you thought God wanted from you that you missed the truth! God loves you for who you are, not what you do! We get so hung up sometimes on trying to do the right things that we miss the enjoyment and value of relationship.

The key in this sermon is not discovering whether we are the prodigal or older brother in order to feel reprimanded or shamed. The key is to see who God is and what He wants to be to us no matter who we are. That is the loving father who cannot run fast enough to throw His arms around us and show us how much He loves us and wants to do for us.
If the people of our world could ever truly grasp this fact, I believe there would be no stopping them from flocking to God.
Bow your heads with me.
O Father, we so often get our eyes on all the wrong things. Like the young son we see things off in the distance that seem more exciting than home. Like the older son, we can be so busy trying to please the father, that we miss that fact that we already have. Help us to live each day in the light of your embrace of love and feel the peace and fulfillment that goes with that.
Amen!
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