Summary: Our God is a Loving Father! What is God really like? Some people think the most important question of life is “Do you believe in God?” But a more important question is “What kind of God do you believe in?”
Luke 15 has been called the lost and found department of the Bible. In it we find (1) the lost sheep that was brought home with joy, Lu 15:4-7; (2) the lost silver that was found with joy, Lu 15:8-10; and the lost son that had been a prodigal, but returned to his father's house, and was received with great joy. This parable speaks to idea of reconciliation and hope. Yet when we consider Jesus’ audience, there is a much deeper truth. Jesus shows the sinners, publicans, scribes and the pharisees what God is really like.
What is God really like? Some people think the most important question of life is “Do you believe in God?” But a more important question is “What kind of God do you believe in?” There is something worse than being an atheist - it is believing in God but having an erroneous concept of God. There are many religions in the world that present many differing pictures of God and they all may contain a little truth. A stopped clock is right twice a day, but actually a broken clock is worse than no clock at all because it gives you misleading information. You can believe in God, but if you have a false conception of God, you are no better off than an atheist. Everyone in Jesus’ audience had their own Idea. Today, Muslims, Hindu, Atheist, New Agers and the like, have their own Ideas.
Jesus Christ came to planet earth to show us exactly what God is like. In Luke 15. He shares three beautiful stories that paint a portrait of the character and nature of God. The Lost sheep shows the caring and seeking nature of God. The lost coin shows us how much God values each of us and his desire for our restoration. The complete story of ruin to restoration can be seem in the Prodigal Son Story. Jesus guides through the downward journey of the son as he moves from self-will, to selfishness, then separation to starvation. Then Jesus allows us to experience his climb from the realization, resolution, repentance to reunion.
Jesus uses this parable to show us what the Father God is really like. Our text begins with a certain man blessed with two sons. As we look at the story, let’s consider the star of the parable, The Good Father! This story speaks more of the father’s relationship with his sons than anything else. Notice the honesty and openness of their relationship. You can hear it in their communication, each member of the family knows that they are appreciated and valued. Relationship building can be challenging, but we must never underestimate the value of a good relationship. Some theologians believe Jesus was giving his take of an older circulate parable that was familiar to his audience.
This certain man of our text was indeed a blessed man. A man likes to have a son, daughters are beautiful and desirable, but a son keeps the family name intact. Normally, a daughter assumes the last name of her husband, while a son keeps the family history traceable and intact. This man had two loving, supportive and caring sons. We are not told what caused the younger son to want to leave home. His mother is not mentioned, but what we are told reveals several things about the father and their family relationship. The younger son was confident that he was free to talk to his father about anything. The boy became excited about the prospect of striking out on his own. He wanted to travel, to see the world and experience it for himself. He thought about it so much until any place seemed better than were he was.
Probably, knowing that the older brother would inherit 2/3 of the Father’s good, he felt that leaving home was the best alternative for him. Many people listening today, may’ve come to the same place, needing to leave the small town, to move to the big city, to get fresh start and take your chances someplace else. Much have been made of how disrespectful the young boy’s request was, but I really do not see any disrespect or malice in his request. I do see several valuable things about value of their relationship and the character of the father. What does Jesus want us to know about the father? First, the availability of the father!
The Good Father Was Available - Lu 15:11, 12a And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.
This father and son had such a wonderful relationship that the son felt comfortable meeting with his father on this sensitive subject. The father was available, understanding and responsive. The sinners and publicans were afraid of God; the scribes and Pharisees were trying to measure to approach God on his level, but Jesus presents a God who is willing to meet us where are. Maybe this is good example to fathers today, yes, we are the bread winners, protectors, and head, maybe our sons also need us to be available. Thank God for his availability!