Summary: The Prodigal Son. A sermon focusing on the Father.
This morning I want us to look at a very familiar passage of Scripture in Luke 15. In this chapter Jesus tells three parables… the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and the parable of the prodigal son. The last parable is the one I want us to talk about this morning. No doubt this is a section of the Bible that we have heard preached time after time. And yet, I don’t know that it ever grows old. And so this morning, I want to again, draw our attention to this beautiful story in Luke 15:11-24…
Many have called the parable of the prodigal son one of the greatest short stories ever told in history. I would tend to agree because it is one of my absolute favorites. But I sometimes have wondered why it is called the story of the prodigal son because to me, the hero in the story is not the son at all, but the father. I don’t know that Jesus told it so much to bring attention to the lost son as much as He meant to bring attention to the forgiveness of the father. I think a more fitting title would be the parable of the loving father.
And so, this morning, I want us to focus my thoughts on the father. And I think there are three things about this fictional father that give us a beautiful picture of our heavenly Father. I want to share…
I. A Father Who Allows Us To Choose
The first thing that I think we can see about this father is that he was a father who allowed his son to choose his own direction in life. We see this prodigal coming to his father one day and saying, “Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me. Give me what I’ve got coming to me.” It seems as though this younger son was tired of being restrained by his father. It seems as though he was hungry for his independence. He was ready to get out of the house and get out on his own.
Boy, I remember those days. I remember I couldn’t wait to obtain the freedom that comes when you’re out from underneath you’re parents’ roof. No curfew. Nobody making sure that I cleaned my room. Nobody to tell me I had to eat my veggies. Nobody to tell me I had to finish everything that was on my plate before I could get up from the table. Man, I was counting down the days. The only problem was, I moved out from living with my parents and moved directly into living with my wife. So I never did really gain that independence. I still have someone making sure I clean my room and eat my veggies. I still have a curfew (not really). But I remember wanting so badly to get out on my own and enjoy my freedom.
But we see this young man coming to his father and demanding that he go ahead and receive his portion of the inheritance. And what does the father do? “Son, how dare you talk to me like that? How dare you demand something from me? I have cared for you since the day you were born. I have worked my tail off so that you could have everything you need. How dare you come and demand that I give you your part of the inheritance now?” No, he didn’t react that way. In fact, the Bible doesn’t tell us that he said anything. It simply says, “So he divided to them his livelihood.” He went ahead and let his son have his own way. He was bent on having his inheritance and going out on his own, so the father allowed him to do as he wished. I’m sure he realized the dangers of allowing his son to leave home. I’m sure he probably understood the trouble his son was getting ready to get himself into. There’s no doubt in my mind that he was hurt by his son’s demand and desire to leave the home. But, he allowed him to choose his own direction in life.
From the very beginning of time God has allowed us to choose our own way. In the garden of Eden God planted a tree and told Adam and Eve they could eat from any tree but this one. If they chose to eat of that tree, they would die. But it was their decision. It was their choice. Have you ever wondered why God did that? I mean, if He really is omniscient, if He really does know everything, He would have known that they would end up eating from that tree and ruining it for the rest of us. So why did He put it there in the first place? Did He want them to fall? Did He want them to bring death upon themselves and upon all the rest of humanity? No. Then why did He plant that tree of good and evil? So we could choose whether or not we were going to obey Him.