Summary: Forgiveness, and the Prodigal Son
“…we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.” These words from Luke 15:32, are the total expression of what God has done for us. In fact, they remind me of a story...
There once was a young man who while not strong in his own faith knew he loved God and that God loved him. However, one day tragedy struck and the young man’s father was killed in a freak farm accident. In the month’s following the accident, the young man’s faith in God lessened and his anger began to grow. Over the years, his anger took many forms leading him down a life that God did not want for him. His anger at God cost him family relationships, friends, and even allowed him to enter into a bad marriage.
However, in each of these situations, unbeknownst to the angry young man, God was there. No matter how bad it got in the young man’s life God was watching out for him. When his marriage ended, and the young man moved back to his home town, semi-homeless, his family took him in and gave him a place to stay so that he could continue to take care of his baby daughter.
However the young man could not let go of the anger he had toward God. This young man wrestled daily with why did God let that happen? Why did that tree have to fall that way? Meanwhile God put people in the young man’s life to bring him closer to God. He had a grandmother, and mother who prayed daily that the young man would accept Christ into his heart. A two-year-old little girl who needed her daddy and friends who provided support as the young man struggled.
You see each day, God nudged the young man a little bit closer toward God. Each day as the man questioned faith, he received answers to his questions. Each day, that the young man was allowed to experience just a little more of the kingdom of Heaven.
Finally, the young man decided it was time to have his daughter baptized, she was a little over two years old, and he felt it had been long enough. So, he approached the pastor about having his little girl baptized. The pastor had the young man come for couple of sessions and let his daughter get familiar with the pastor as well.
On the day of the baptism, the ceremony was taking place, the young man and his little girl were at the front of the church with the pastor. However as the young man read the words of the baptism covenant, words he had read before with the pastor at her office, God allowed His Holy Spirit to enter the young man. It was at that moment the young man realized not only did God love him and his little girl, but that what he was doing was making a commitment to bring his little girl up to love the Lord! He realized God had called him back, just like the Prodigal Son, and that he was back home and God wanted him to be with him always.
You see that young man is standing before you today. I was that angry young man. I have been the prodigal son. I have eaten with the pigs, I had thrown away the treasure that God had given me, only to come back and repent. Verse 32 could be rewritten for my life. It could very easily be read to say these words…”it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother Carl was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.
You see, God was with me even when he allowed me to be in the depths of misery. He never allowed me to sink beyond what He knew I could handle. He knew that when I reached that critical point, I would call for Him. I would repent, and He would wash away all of my transgressions and welcome me, that angry young man, back home. Just like the father in Luke welcomed home his wayward son.
Paul wrote in our epistle for today:
…anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old order is gone and a new being is there to see. It is all God’s work; he reconciled us to himself through Christ and he gave us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-18 NJB)
In other words, when a person accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, they are a new person. God gives them the chance to start over and to look at life in a new way. They begin realize that they need not carry the burden of guilt any more, because God has forgiven them of their wayward past.