April 2, 2017

The Lost Son Comes Home
The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Luke 15:11-24 (NASB)

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.

John Piper spoke to 40,000 young people in the year A.D. 2000 a message entitled “Don’t Waste Your Life,” and Piper’s popularity, because of that one talk, skyrocketed. Three years later Piper published a book of the same title (600,000 in sales). If we had to summarize the most beloved story Jesus ever told, a parable that has changed millions of lives, the story of the prodigal son is most likely that one story.

  1. The son entered a rebellion all sons of God understand.
    The son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country” (Luke 15:13). The KJV says that the son entered a “far country.” In the story of us, from whom or what are we far?
    1. We journey far from the Father and His family.
      Our attitude is one of “Give me…” (v. 12), and we lose sight of “Take up your cross” discipleship. This journey, far from the Father, involves isolation from those related to the Father. It’s an axiom that the evidence one is far from God is that we distance ourselves from God’s people.
    2. We journey far from faithful service to the Father.
      And there (e.g. the distant country) he squandered his estate with loose living” (Luke 15:13b). These two things go hand-in-hand. Moving far from the Father leads to a lifestyle of loose living. How do we get here? How do we end up living double lives? We’ve gone to the far country.
    3. We journey far from the food that sustains us.
      When he spent everything, a severe famine occurred … and he became impoverished” (v. 14). Jesus said, “People should not live by bread alone, but by every word from God” (Matt. 4:4). When I live by the Spirit, staying close to my Father, the Bible becomes like warm, fresh bread.
  2. The son exhibited a response to the far country all sons eventually have.
    He came to his senses” (v. 17). Notice, all those truly related to the Father will come to their senses. “I will get up and go to my Father” (v. 18). This is the response that all sons far from the Father have.
    1. Sin will sometimes delay the response.He hired himself out to feed swine” (v. 15).
      For a Jew to feed swine (an unlawful animal), was about as low as a Jew could go. When we run from God we find ourselves going further away than we ever dreamed and doing worse things than we ever dared comprehend. Shame keeps us in the hog pen far longer than necessary.
    2. Shame will sometimes delay the response.I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (v. 19).
      Do you notice anything strange about v. 19? He obviously at one time thought himself worthy. It’s my experience that if I think myself worthy of His favor I’ll be broken of it in a far country.
    3. Surroundings will sometimes delay the response.And while he was still a long way off” (v. 20).
      Having been to Israel several times, I know the terrain of the country. To go from Jericho to Jerusalem (30 miles) is a tortuous, tough walk. This boy was in “a far country” and to get home to his Father must have been a brutal journey. So it is with us during our journey of grace. There will be those who doubt you, mock you, trouble you, and do all manner of things to prevent you.
  3. The son experienced a reception from the far country all sons need to consider.
    His Father saw him (a long way off) and had compassion for him, ran and embraced him” (v. 20).
    1. God’s grace reaches further than any far country experience.
    2. God’s grace embraces the shameful, guilty sinner even when other people will not.
    3. God’s grace is the only hope any person has when it comes to making the journey home.

You can view the video for this sermon HERE.