The Love of the Father
This morning I want to take you through a familiar story. It’s a story we all know. We all know the story of the Prodigal Son. We know if from the standpoint of the son and we will talk a little about what the son did today. But, I want to tell you this morning that the son is not the main character in this story. Today we are going to be talking about the main character in this story and that is the Father.
As you know, this is a parable. So, it is important for us not to over-examine all of the details of the story as to how we would or wouldn’t do something as a parent or in some other situation here. Jesus told this story to get a point across, and the main point of this story is to tell about a Loving Father.
So, walk through this story with me and I want to show you the loving father.
v.11-12) “There was a man who had 2 sons. And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.”
Now, we see 2 sons and a father here. And the younger son comes up one day and says - Hey dad, I want my stuff. I want what I would get if you were dead. I want my inheritance, only I don’t want to wait for it. I want it now! Like the JG Wentworth commercial, “It’s my money and I want it now!” But he was basically saying that he wished his dad was dead so that he could have his share of the inheritance. He didn’t want to wait, he had other plans.
Now in this day, the older son would receive ⅔ of the inheritance and the younger would receive ⅓ of it. This was a very shameful thing for the son to say, obviously. But even more than that, it was dishonoring to the father.
Think about how this must have hurt the father. Think about how this must have crushed him to know that his son cared nothing about him or wanted anything to do with him. All of the instruction, the way he had raised him didn’t matter now - the son was spitting on all of that. It must have crushed his soul to hear those words come out of his son’s mouth.
v.12) “And he divided his property between them”
Again, let’s don’t overemphasize what you would or wouldn’t do as a parent in this situation. Don’t read too much into that. That isn’t important. This father granted the foolish son’s request to give him his share of the estate. Sometimes God gives us what we ask for to teach us a lesson we wouldn’t learn otherwise. It would have been difficult for this father to get the son’s share of his inheritance because it was probably tied up in livestock and land. The father would have been forced to sell some assets to come up with enough money to pay his son his share. This would have been extremely disgraceful in this time for the father to have to do such a thing to accommodate the son. There would have been a lot of embarrassment and shame towards the father from the neighbors and surrounding community for granting this request.
v.13) “Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country”
Isn’t it funny that people think they can run from God sometimes? You’ll notice here that he took all of his cash and made a little trip to Vegas. For argument’s sake, that’s what we will refer to as the far country. But people often think if they can get far enough away from home, they can run from God or his watchful eye. This is the same reason that nothing good happens after midnight. Talk to any law enforcement officer and the majority of the stuff they deal with is done in the dark. People think they can conceal their sins by going away or covering them up. We are going to find out that isn’t the case.
v.13) “and there he squandered his property in reckless living”
So he takes his money and what does he do with it? He goes to Vegas and has the penthouse suite in the Bellagio or some other casino and he lives like a king! He has the cash, the girls, the friends, the drinks, all of that. He is living the way HE WANTS. He wanted his inheritance so he could live the way he wanted, he didn’t want to be told what to do.
v.14) “And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.”
One day, when he goes to reach into his pockets, all he pulls up is lint. It’s all gone. Nothing left but regret. The girls are gone, friends are gone, the casino kicked him out of his room - He’s got nothing. And on top of all that, there’s a drought in Vegas and everybody is hurting for money. Nobody has any extra.
Notice the last part of this verse. It says “he began to be in need”. That is so important. Remember what we said earlier? That God will sometimes let us have what we ask for, to teach us a lesson that we wouldn’t learn otherwise. Isn’t it interesting that the famine started about the time his money dried up? That is no coincidence, my friends. God lets things happen to us to drive us to a place to where we “are in need”. He drives us to a place where we can’t depend on anything worldly and we must depend on Him, because He is all we have! Have you ever been in that situation? I have! I’ve been at that place where I HAD to depend on God. And that was right where God wanted me.
God will use any means necessary to bring you back to Him.
v.15-16) “So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.”
He’s really hit rock bottom here. He’s hungry, doesn’t have a penny to his name, and now he’s living with the pigs and wanting to eat some of the slop. He’s come a long way from the penthouse to the pigpen right?
v.17-19) 17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”
You’ll notice here that he realizes that his father is a generous man, even to the day laborers that work for him. He plans to come back and try to earn his way back into the family. He plans to beg to be a servant in the hope that he can earn his way back.
v.20-21) 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him
Now this is important. He is making the long trek back home right? Notice what this verse says. It says that while he was still a long way off, his father saw him. Don’t miss this. His father hadn’t written him off. His father never stopped, day after day watching for his son to return. He loved him so much, he wanted to watch for his return. And so you can just see him there, with his hands cupped around his eyes squinting out over the horizon. And one day when he is panning out over the horizon, he sees some dust being kicked up from footsteps. At this point the son is rehearsing what he is going to say, right? Haven’t you done that before?
But the main point in this verse is that the Father was watching, and longing for him to return. Now, what happens next is where we really begin to see the character of the Father. How would the Father react?
v.20) “and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
He sees him right? What do you think he does after he sees him? Waits on the porch in his rocking chair with his glass of tea and his arms folded in disgust? He felt COMPASSION. And then notice it says he RAN. In those days it was not proper for a man like this to run. He would have had to gather his robe up and take off in a dead sprint. This was not very becoming of a patriarch. But the Father didn’t care. All he cared about was his son coming home.
As if the running wasn’t enough, what does he do when he gets to him? Does he grab him by the ear and lecture him all the way back to the house? Does he give him such an earful that everybody in Wal-Mart can hear it? Have you ever done that?!?!
What do you see here? Love. Grace. Unmitigated love and grace.
v.21) 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
Now we get the sons response. This is important. You see repentance in the son’s words don’t you? He is not just sorry, he is repentant. This is genuine repentance coming from a heart that knows he cannot handle life on his own and he accepts his unworthiness. He says “I’m not worthy”. That is real repentance, not just a sorry for getting caught type attitude.
v.22-23) 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.
So, no lecture to begin with and now what does he get upon returning? His father puts a robe on him, puts a ring on his finger (which by the way was a status of sonship. This would have been the family ring with the family crest used to seal official letters in wax) and shoes on his feet. And then he says, “let us eat and celebrate”. Luke 15:7 says “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who need no repentance.”
v.24) 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
This is the reason for celebration. This is the reason the father ran to the son while he was a long way off. This was the reason the father had compassion on the son. This was the reason the father gave the son his inheritance early. This was the reason for the famine. This was the reason nobody helped him.
All of this led up to the fact that the son was lost, but now is found. That is the reason to celebrate. I wonder if we celebrate the repentance and salvation of a sinner enough today? Or do we just expect it? Something to think about.
v.24) “Was lost, and is found”
Does this sound familiar? This truly was Amazing Grace. Can’t you just hear this son singing this right now? The Father truly had shown the son amazing grace.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Did the son deserve it? No. What did he deserve? Nothing. What do we deserve? Nothing. But God chooses in his love and mercy to be gracious to us. May we never be calloused or ungrateful of that grace. May we always be in awe of how amazing the grace is that we’ve been given.
Notice also that the son did nothing to earn his status back. His status back into the family couldn’t be earned, it could only be given.
I talked to a man this week that I would be fairly certain he isn’t a Christian. He told me that he was, but I’m not sure. His life says otherwise. But he told me that he has felt like he has been in a rut for the last 5 years. He said he couldn’t get out of the rut. He said he felt like he could begin to climb out sometimes, and then would get thrown down again by life circumstances. I told him very plainly that he couldn’t climb out of that rut on his own. I told him he couldn’t do that without the Lord’s help. You can’t clean your life up. It isn’t possible. If it were, we wouldn’t have needed Jesus to die on the cross.
You can’t do it on your own. You were never meant to do it on your own. You were always meant to lean on God for everything in your life.
I want you to notice in these few verses that we have studied here this morning -
The Father loved the son:
When he was hurting him by making poor decisions
When he was walking away
When he was wallowing in his sin
When he was making his way back
When he was welcomed back home
The Father loved the son all the way through the process. Even though it hurt the son to sin and have to swallow his pride and come back, this was what it took for him to realize he couldn’t do it without the Father.
Maybe today you are in a similar situation. Maybe you have run from God and you think he is done with you. Maybe you think God has abandoned you. Maybe you have sinned so much you think God won’t ever take you back.
Don’t listen to those lies. God is looking for you. He is watching for you day after day to come home. He wants you to come home. He longs for you to come home. He loves you so much that He will welcome you back with open arms. He will run to you and embrace you and love you. He will put a robe of righteousness on you.
I will ask you this morning, will you come back? Will you come back to God? Will you come to your senses and realize that He is a loving Father and that He wants you back?
I pray you will see God as a loving Father that wants to love you. He wants you to come back to Him.