Faithlife Sermons

Jesus and the Sinner

Notes
Transcript
At nineteen, Al Johnson had joined two other men in robbing a Kansas bank. The case was closed by police after two other convicts were killed in an auto crash and mistakenly identified by bank officials as the robbers. Al felt sure he would never be caught.
Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations 4962 When Al Johnson Confessed

At nineteen, Al Johnson had joined two other men in robbing a Kansas bank. The case was closed by police after two other convicts were killed in an auto crash and mistakenly identified by bank officials as the robbers. Al felt sure he would never be caught.

He married a Christian girl and pretended to be a Christian before her. She knew nothing of his past crime. Then someone sent him a tract in the mail, titled “God’s Plan of Salvation.” Reading it, he noticed that one of the Bible verses said, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

The realization struck that salvation was for him. He could be forgiven and his conscience set free. He knelt in prayer and accepted Christ.

His life changed. He stopped a lifelong habit of lying. And after much thought and prayer he confessed his crime. His confession made television newscasts and newspaper headlines even in Canada.

Under a Kansas statute of limitations, he was set free, although he chose to repay his share of the stolen funds to the bank.

At nineteen, Al Johnson had joined two other men in robbing a Kansas bank. The case was closed by police after two other convicts were killed in an auto crash and mistakenly identified by bank officials as the robbers. Al felt sure he would never be caught.
He married a Christian girl and pretended to be a Christian before her. She knew nothing of his past crime. Then sometime later, someone sent him a tract in the mail, titled “God’s Plan of Salvation.” Reading it, he noticed that one of the Bible verses said, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
The realization struck that salvation was for him. He could be forgiven and his conscience set free. He knelt in prayer and received the living Lord, Jesus.
His life changed. He stopped a lifelong habit of lying. And after much thought and prayer he confessed his crime. His confession made television newscasts and newspaper headlines even in Canada.
Under a Kansas statue of limitations, he was set free, although he chose to repay his share of the stolen funds to the bank.
The text for our consideration today is the Gospel of Luke, specifically the parable of the prodigal son. You all know this parable well, as it is one of the most famous of all of Jesus’ parables He taught in His earthly ministry.
This parable is about two boys and their father. The oldest boy was very devoted to the family, doing his work as told, and never really got into much trouble. Then there is this younger son, who may not have been the ideal brother. Perhaps he was a bit of a daydreamer, a little lazy, and did not know how to manage what he worked for. Perhaps he was the one kid in the family who would blow his allowance before he even received it. Perhaps he was the one boy who couldn’t wait to get out from under the critical eye of his older brother and start his own life on his own terms.
But it does paint a beautiful picture of the father’s mercy and grace. According to Moses in Deuteronomy, the first born son was to receive a double portion of the inheritance (21:15-17). So, prior to when the father would divide up his estate between his children, he gives to the younger son what he asks for.
This parable also paints a beautiful picture of the father’s mercy and grace. According to Moses in Deuteronomy, the first born son was to receive a double portion of the inheritance (21:15-17). So, prior to when the father would divide up his estate between his children, he gives to the younger son what he asks for.
The youngest son pleads with is father for his portion of the inheritance. His father, more than likely knowing full well that this was not a good idea, gives it to him anyway, as inheritances are not typically received until the death of the father. The very next day the boy leaves for a foreign land and squanders it in wine, women and song. A lifestyle his family would never condone.
He finds himself destitute during a severe famine in that foreign country. So, he hires himself out as one of the lowest servants of all, to a pig farmer, as one who would feed the swine. Whoa, a Jewish boy, on a pig farm, feeding unclean animals. This boy has gone as low as he could get. He has hit “rock bottom.” He was working in a Gentile land, amongst unbelievers, feeding pigs, that no Jewish person would even touch. And he was not being paid well either, as he laments that not even his employer gave him any food.
How many of us have hit ‘rock bottom’ in our life? How many of us, have done something similar in taking God’s grace and mercy and squandering it in unholy living, living for wine, women and song, so-to-speak. I know for certain that this parable is about me. Baptized at eight, confirmed at 13 or 14, and then turned my back on God, rejecting Him as my Father, and blaming Him for all the garbage that happened in my childhood. I proverbially spent 13 or so years in a foreign country until I was no better than this young Jewish man.
Even though you may not have had such a prodigal son experience, perhaps you have always been the older brother. You have been faithful in your devotion to your Father, always trying to live your life according to His will, but there is something about those prodigals that just rubs you wrong. The ones who have squandered their life in unholy living, the ones with the tattoos, or the alcoholics or addicts, the prostitutes, the people on the fringe of society. The hurting ones who have gone their own way and seek handouts from people like us. Perhaps you all may think, “They don’t deserve my charity, they will just waste it on more alcohol or drugs anyway.” Perhaps we get angry with the ones coming back later in life thinking that we have always been with the Father, doing His work, and giving our devotion to Him, and now this person who has wasted his or her life doing detestable things thinks they can dance back into the Father’s house as if nothing has ever happened, with all their tattoos, piercings, dirty clothes and much different attitude than the rest of us.
The psalmist knows full well, both sides of that coin. From the Psalm today we read, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”
David, God’s chosen king over Israel, began to live as a prodigal. He had wives already, but this one young lady was rather sexy, so he does what he should not have done. Then instead of confessing his sin and guilt, attempts to cover it up by having her husband killed in battle, he thought his hands would be clean and he could have his cake and eat it too.
God calls us all to repentance. The young man in the parable comes to his senses and makes a feeble attempt at repentance, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” He knew that his father’s servants had more than he had, and perhaps he could get back into his father’s good graces by working his way back to it. “I will work my way back into my father’s heart”.
However, his father is far more loving and merciful than that. He sees His long lost son, who he assumed to be dead, far off in the distance, and the father does what no respected Jewish man would ever do. He hikes up his clothing baring his own skin, and runs to greet this prodigal, this unworthy, unclean person. His father felt compassion. His love and compassion went above the written code of conduct of the Jewish religious leaders and ran and embraced his son, and kissed him and put his best robe on him, a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. He killed the fattened calf and celebrated with a party because his son who “was dead, in alive again; he was lost, and is found.”
Blood was shed that day. The fattened calf was slaughtered that day. Blood must be shed to pay for sin, it stated with Adam and Eve in the Garden, when after they sinned and ate the forbidden fruit, they sewed fig leaves together to cover their shame and guilt, but God shed the blood of an innocent animal and gave them clothes made from the skin of that innocent beast. It was reiterated in the Law of Moses, that in order to receive forgiveness, on the Day of Atonement, innocent animals were slaughtered, blood was everywhere, and forgiveness was received.
This is how God is with each of us. He sent Jesus, His only Son, became the innocent sacrifice to be slaughtered on the cross. His innocent blood was shed for our prodigal ways of living, even for the insolent older brothers and sisters who despised the prodigal’s return. Jesus is that innocent sacrifice that redeemed us all. And He restores us to better than we were before.
The ring that the father placed on his prodigal son’s hand was not just any ring, but it was more than likely his signet ring (cf. , ; ). If you read in your study bible, there are some notes that point you back to , where Pharoah gives Joseph his signet ring, and also to Esther where Nebuchadnezzar gave Haman his signet ring. So, This prodigal son now had the same authority as his father, the power and authority to buy and sell for the family. God restores the broken. Was this prodigal perfect? Did he deserve such treatment and restoration? In our economy, no way! As the Apostle Paul tells us, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this if from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself...” ().
God our Father destroyed the old self in us through the innocent life, suffering, and death of His Son Jesus on the cross. When Christ shed His blood on the cross, all of our sin, and all of its guilt and shame were killed along with Him. Behold, the old is gone, it has died with the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf.
in , David rejoices, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (, ESV). Even though we all deserve the painful and horrific death that Jesus died, His steadfast love for us who fear Him is greater than our sin and it’s consequences. In Christ Jesus, He removes our sin as far as the east is from the west.
If you were to travel east you will never reach its end. The same way if you were to hop in a plane to travel west, you could circle the globe an infinite number of times and never reach its end. That is how much God’s steadfast love is for each of us prodigals and insolent siblings.
And those who receive His steadfast love in Christ, we find ourselves overjoyed. “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though You were angry with me, Your anger turned away, that You might comfort me” (). What greater comfort is there than to have your past erased, to have it done away with. Forgiveness is one of the greatest things that we could ever receive from our Lord. It fills us with love, joy and peace. “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation” ().
Our response to the living Gospel of Christ Jesus stirs our hearts into thanks and praise. Not only our response but also “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (, ESV). That’s right, in our repentance and turning back to our Father, just like in the parable, the household of God, even the angels in heaven celebrate. We are part of that party. “Sing praises to the Lord, for He has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
Principal Rainy, of whom a child once remarked that she believed he went to Heaven every night because he was so happy every day, once used a fine metaphor about a Christian’s joy. “Joy,” he said, “is the flag which is flown from the castle of the heart when the King is in residence there.”
After Christ’s death and resurrection, He tells His disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth have been given to Me...” Jesus has become our King and He resides in us. So, wherever you find yourself today, as the prodigal son, or daughter, or the angry older brother, find comfort today, that in the sacrifice of Jesus and His resurrection, He is our King. He has made His Father pleased with us in what He did for us. And that our King, who was despised by the religious norm, is pleased to receive sinners and to eat with us.
In the name of Jesus and for His eternal glory. Amen.
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