GROWN UP CHRISTIANS – Learning to Love Like Dad (Father’s Day)
Luke 15:1-3; 11-32 (pg. 729) June 21, 2015
I’ve shared this story with you before, but on Father’s Day I’d like to share it again, and include something I haven’t shared with you. When I was 10 years old I came home from a basketball banquet at Southland Christian Church and while playing with a chemistry set I spilled rubbing alcohol over myself and it ignited from a fire from a little lamp. I ended up being burned over 50% of my body with 3rd degree burns. My father heard my screams and extinguished the flames with his own hands and arms. He bore the scars until the day he died.
I spend 2 ½ months in the burn unit at St. Joe hospital. I turned 11 there, that’s a long time for an 11 year old...especially before video games, Netflix and ipods. My mom read to me every day...Bible Stories...and the Hardy Boys Mysteries.
SHOW HARDY BOYS PICS
I loved Frank and Joe Hardy. I left that hospital room in my mind to join them on each mystery. The Tower Treasure, The Crisscross Shadows....They lived on a lake and many times they would take their boat, named The Slueth on the adventure. I love the water...I love fishing...I love adventure..It was one of the distractions that helped save my life.
On the day I had my skin graft surgery my mother helped me to the hospital window. And from the 5th floor I could see my Father driving around a boat towed behind his car. On the back of the little boat was its name (misspelled lol) “The Sluth.” My father wanted me to have hope for future adventures before the surgery. And I believe because of God, stubbornness, and that hope I survived.
It’s no wonder when my father died at 79 he still bore the scars of those burns on his hand from 35 years before...and Billy Kerr did what any funeral director would do...He hid that badly scarred left hand under his right...The moment I saw it I asked Billy if he would put the scarred hand on top...The reason...I wanted everyone to see how much my father loved me.
Like many of you I miss my father to this day...I feel a burden for those who never had a dad who towed boats, couldn’t spell, and had scars made from love. He helped me be a better man and gave me an example to follow...which most importantly included a very real relationship with Jesus...It’s one I still think about every day in this amazing adventure we call life.
As we grow up in Christ as children of God and joint heirs with Him for eternity we also have an example to follow...ironically He has scars on his hands too...And when Jesus encounters the criticisms and grumbling from the “religious Pharisees” he tells them a parable...a story about “Learning to Love Like Dad.”
And it’s a lesson that teaches us some important priorities...first:
I. PEOPLE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN POSSESSIONS
Jesus is the most amazing teacher that ever lived...and to deal with his frustration about “religious” people criticizing His intimacy with “sinners” he tells three stories...one about a lost sheep...one about lost money...and finally one about a lost child.
And without a doubt Jesus intentionally creates an increase in importance with each story...sheep are important possessions...money pays for essentials and much more...but even grumbling religious people should understand that people are much more important...especially if it’s our son or daughter.
“There was a man who had two sons” and instantly each listener personalized it...I’m sure if you have children like me you do...
“I have 2 sons (Ricky and Tyler)
and 2 daughters (Cyndi and Karissa).”
The listeners of this parable did exactly what you and I would do...think of these faces...The younger one and the older one! People are always more important than possessions.
If you lose your keys...it will frustrate you...If you lose money on the stockmarket you will get mad and change stockbrokers...but if you lose a son...it will break your heart.
This is exactly the lesson Jesus was trying to teach, but even more than telling this story...it’s the reason Jesus came.
In Luke 19 verse 7 people were muttering again about Jesus going to the house of a tax collector name Zacchaeus...but Zacchaeus is changed in the presence of God’s son...He commits his money where his mouth is and resolves to go above and beyond making restitutions for his greediness. Jesus says “Salvation has come to this house...for the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” (v. 10)
Zacchaeus was a lost son...and it took a seeking Savior to return him to God’s family.
Jesus is telling the story of the lost sons in our text...there are 2...both are lost...but in dramatically different places.
One is lost in selfishness, but the other is lost in self sufficiency.
“The younger one said to his father...Give me!”
The older brother says to his Father “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders!”
Neither of these sons understand their father’s love...neither have the relationship with Him that He desires. So let me ask you...
Which of these lost sons do you think he grieved about the most? Neither! He was heartbroken for both.
One is spiritually dead because of selfish rebellion: “The younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and then squandered his wealth in wild living...When everything was gone, a severe famine came upon that whole country. (Luke 15:13-14)
He only has what he has because of his father...but the rebel wants “freedom.” It’s the rejection of authority...even if that authority is God the Father.
Ironically instead of freedom...He ends up enslaved...in dire need of someone else’s help...but the best he can find is pig slop.
The oldest son is spiritually dead because of anger, self righteousness and judgment...upon healing of his brothers’ return and the celebration with the fattened calf. “He became angry refused to go in.” His eyes are upon himself. I’ve slaved! You never gave me! but when this son of yours comes crawling back from prostitutes...you celebrate!”
Anger...jealousy...judgment...I wonder when the younger boy stopped being his brother and became “This son of yours!”
This older brother is the picture of the audience for Jesus’ story...remember they’re muttering and complaining about his relationships with sinners.
Jesus’ point is: The most spiritually dead individual is the one who doesn’t see his sin, and refuses to believe others deserve to be forgiven...you see sons and brothers are more important than sheep and coins.
The prodigal comes to his senses in the pig sty...The story is left unfinished because we never see the older brother coming to his.
On this Father’s Day...and every other day it’s essential for us to see God as He really is...how he responds to lost sons and daughters who come to understand how lost they are.
II. GOD THE FATHER LONGS FOR LOST CHILDREN TO COME HOME
As the prodigal son pulls himself from the pig sty and starts back home with a repentant heart verse 20 says “so he got up and went to his father.”
He’s not just going back to the house...he’s headed home to dad.
And what do we learn about Dad...He’s watching, hoping, scanning the horizon. And when he catches a glimpse of someone coming down the road, still a long way off “His father saw him and was filled with compassion...He ran to His son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (vs. 20)
His son blurts out “Father I’ve sinned against heaven and against you...I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.”
There is true repentance for sin... “I’m sorry God...I’m sorry dad...and humility...I’m not worthy.
The Father’s response...let’s read it aloud.
LUKE 15:22-24 (p. 730)
Restore his sonship...prepare for a celebration. My boy was dead...but now is alive...lost...but I found him again.
I’m sure my earthly father could understand this celebration...He had 2 sons too...the difference in the story was His older son...loved him, respected him...but his youngest son was spiritually dead and in the far country for 6 years...until God brought me to my senses through the Holy Spirit and brought me home.
[I know the feeling of my son literally being in a far country called Iraq.
SHOW TYLER MILITARY PIC
I know what it’s like to fear for his death. I know what it’s like to tremble when the phone rings and I see USA government...only to discover it’s a recruiter calling for my daughter...and I know what it’s like to see him come home and step into his fiancée’s arms.
SHOW EMRACE PIC
I know that desire to celebrate like no tomorrow...because sons are worth more than sheep and money.]
God the Father longs for His children to return to Him more than I longed for Tyler to come back home.
This is what Jesus was trying to teach the grumbling religious experts. They knew a lot about God...They knew his laws...They knew about ceremony...but they missed knowing God the Father by 18 inches. (The distance between their head and their hearts)
It angered them for prodigals to be welcomed home...it caused them to grumble against a Messiah that actively accepted and forgave a tax collector like Zacchaeus and Samaritan women with horrible pasts, and prostitutes that broke alabaster jars over his head and washed his feet with her tears.
After all, they’d slaved all their lives serving a Father that they never really had a relationship with...and never really knew.
When Jesus shares the final words of the Father in this parable he says, “We had to celebrate and be glad, because His brother of yours (he’s not just my son...HE’S YOUR BROTHER!! He was dead) He was lost but now He’s alive...He been found!
If you’ve ever had a wayward child, son or daughter...did you ever think...I hope they die? I hope they get what they deserve...I hope they spent time in prison.
I’ve never met a dad or mom that felt that way. Ever! You pray, you hope, you try to do whatever you can to help them “come to their senses” and you constantly scan the horizon in hopes of seeing them headed back home.
That’s the picture Jesus beautifully paints of our Father in heaven.
[One of my favorite “God winks” (where God reveals himself in our lives) involves horseshoes...Two trophies were won...8 years apart...one was with my father right after I was burned in 1971...at the Kentucky Utilities picnic, it involved dozens of teams...grown men...and in June 1971, just after I got out of the hospital...we won...I still remember it to this day...almost miraculous how well dad and I played...and it didn’t stop...They gave us both one of these trophies KU picnic, 1st, 71.
SHOW TROPHY PIC
But for the next 8 years I didn’t have time for Dad...I pursued other adventures...I didn’t attend stupid picnics...until 1979...6 months after giving my life to Christ...after returning home from the far country.
That’s where this 2nd trophy comes in...It says KU picnic, 1st, 1979...I love it when God winks at me...and I hope there are horseshoes in heaven...Because I can’t wait to play with my dad again.]
I serve a God who celebrates the return of prodigal sons and daughters...He longs for them to come home.