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The Loving Father

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TEXT: Luke 15:11-14


When I was in 4th grade, my 5 year old brother and I got in trouble for something we had done.  I can’t remember what it was but we were in trouble.  He decided that instead of sticking around he would just run away from home.  He was mad and that was his solution.   Picture that, a 5 year old with nothing but the clothes he was wearing taking off down the sidewalk to run away from home.  By the time mom got outside, he was 1 ½ blocks down Sheldon Street, at which point he turned around and decided that home was a much better choice than running away from it.

Today, each of us finds ourself at a different spiritual level.  Some, like my brother did that day, have rebelliously run away from their Lord.  Some have not outwardly run away from their Lord, but have inwardly.  Some are at home and are both inwardly and outwardly serving the Lord.  Only you know where you are today. 

Tonight we are going to look into the lives of two brothers who seem to be very different, but yet are similar in many ways. 


I. The Wandering Son – 15:11-24

A.     His Request – v. 12

The request the son makes is not an ordinary one.  In it he wasn’t asking for a loan or a little bit of cash.  He was asking for all of his inheritance.  In the culture of that time what the son had done was express his desire that his father die.  The father was the one supposed to initiate any discussion about an inheritance, never the son.  Basically the son was saying, “If you won’t hurry up and just die, then give m what’s coming now.  I want it, and I won’t wait for it.”  This was a son who was expressing that he wanted absolutely nothing more to do with his dad.  That’s quit a request.  His father gave him his share of the inheritance, so now what does he do?

B.     His Riotous Living – v. 13-16

Several days later he takes of to a far country.  We don’t know exactly where he went.  All we know is that it was far from home.  There he lived a life of sin.  The verse says he “wasted his substance with riotous living.”  He took off and began to speed his share of the inheritance on anything that he thought would make him happy, but soon the money was gone.  In verse 30 his brother takes of his wasting his money on “harlets”.  He wasted his inheritance on the wicked things of the world.  He had no money, no home, no nothin’.  A life of sin will always bring with it negative consequences.  They might not be immediate, but I promise you they will come.  And when they come the price paid is always greater than the “fun” that was had and that is where we now find the son.

He was penniless and had no way of income.  One day he came across a farmer who helped him.  He gave him a job, it was to feed the pigs.  Pigs were unclean animals and according to Old Testament law Jews were not allowed to eat their meat.  There could be no job so disgraceful for a man from a respected Jewish family, than the job he had.  These “husks”  he was feeding the pigs were considered as “the food of the poor”.  So not only was he feeding the pigs but he was eating the food of the pigs.  He lived a life of sinful actions and now he was paying for it.  There will always be a payday someday for our sinful actions.  We just don’t know when that day will come.

At this point in his life, he is probably not thinking about what a great time he had wasting all his inheritance.  I can just imagine that the thoughts of home and comfort and his fathers care were all that were running through his mind.

And that is the point in his story when we come to . . .

C.     His Realization – v. 17

It was at some point while in the pigpen when he came to his senses and remembered how wonderful it was at home.  There in the pig pen of the consequences of his sin he began to long for his father and began the road to a repentant heart.  He realized that the lifestyle he had lived was wrong and decided to do something about it.  So he got up out of the pigpen and headed for home. 

And that is where we find him next.

D.     His Reunion – v. 20-24

The Bible tells us that “when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him.”  That tells me something wonderful about the father.  It seems as though he was waiting, watching with open arms for his rebellious son to return home.  He had not turned his back of forgotten his son.  He anxiously awaited his return. 

It wasn’t easy for the son to come home.  He didn’t deserve to be welcomed back after all that he had done.  It took great courage and humility for him to return and to return penniless. 

Once he returned home, his father welcomed him back with open arms.  He had a banquet celebrating the return of his son.  What a wonderful occasion, the homecoming of the prodigal son.

That is the story of the wandering son, but we are not done yet tonight.  Many people come to this point in the parable and think this point is the end and often check out mentally as they read the rest of the passage.  But don’t do that, the stories not over.  In the excitement of that grand homecoming banquet we are introduced to the other son. 

Let’s read verses 25-32

Here we find . . .

II. The “Wonderful” Son

From all outward appearances, this son seems to be the perfect one.  You might say, the “All-American Boy”.  When his younger brother had left home, he stayed with his father.  He did all his father asked of him.  Verse 29 tells us that when it says, “Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandments.”  He had faithfully served his faith – that is, faithfully on the outside.

Verses 25-28 shed some light on what this “wonderful” son is truly like – not on the outside, but on the inside.  Anger and coldness ooze from those verses as we look at them.  When he found out why there was a banquet he became very angry.  It is at this point we begin to see what the older, “wonderful” son is truly like.  We begin to see his cold, hard heart.  He seems to have it all together, but his true colors begin to show.

In verse 28 we find the loving father going to the elder son and pleading with him to come in, but the son refuses.  The father came to him with the same open arms that he had just extended to his Wandering Son.  And now his “Wonderful” Son refuses to be embraced by those same loving arms.  And again we see the true heart of the outwardly wonderful son.  He had shared his father’s house, but he did not share his father’s heart.  He was the one that appeared to, but he was not the one with a true relationship with his father.

The story ends without ever revealing in the elder son came in or not.  He had that decision to make.  Tonight are you like that Wandering Son, living your own life, doing things your way?  Maybe you are not in the pigpen of sin, like the Prodigal Son, but there is something in you life keeping you from having that right, wonderful relationship with your heavenly Father.  It might be something no one else knows about, no one else cane see.  Maybe everyone thinks that you are the “Wonderful Son” but you know in your heart that is not true.  To all, the plea is the same.  “Won’t you come in, come home today.

There is a book entitled “The Parables: Understanding What Jesus Meant”.  In that book the author makes this statement:  “The awful possibility is that we can be in the Father’s fields as servants but not really in His house as sons or daughters.  We may be moral and respectable, but because we have never truly known the Father who is loving, gracious and welcoming we are “older brothers”.  To such, the Father’s appeal in “Come In!”  Or we may in a far country, scattering the resources of which He is ultimately the Giver.  Perhaps the money had run out and the famine has come in and we have reached the pigpen. . .To all such, the Lord shouts, “Come Home!”  Wherever you are tonight – If you and everyone around you know that you are living in sin, doing wrong, making wrong life choices or if you are the only one who knows – your Heavenly Father is waiting for you with open arms saying, “Come Home?” 

Tonight, you have a choice just as each one of the son’s in the parable did.  What will you choose?



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