Summary: what makes a great dad according to this story. The very first thing I notice is that a great dad sets his kids free, never stops believing, lets himself feel, gives his children the best, and works for family unity.
Father’s Day – Stories of God’s People
Luke 15:11-32 June 18, 2006
Intro – Luke 15:11-32:
11Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, ’Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17"When he came to his senses, he said, ’How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20So he got up and went to his father.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21"The son said to him, ’Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.[b]’
22"But the father said to his servants, ’Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27’Your brother has come,’ he replied, ’and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, ’Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31" ’My son,’ the father said, ’you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ "
A Great Dad Sets His Kids Free:
This Father’s day, I want to look at what makes a great dad according to this story. The very first thing I notice is that a great dad sets his kids free. The story begins with a horrible request – “give me my share of the estate”. It is a slap in the father’s face, a rejection, a selfish demand. This son is not mature enough to wisely handle the responsibility, and does a terrible job with it; the story says he “squandered his wealth in wild living.” In light of the result, we are tempted to blame the father for giving in to the request, we are tempted to criticize him. Until we remember that in the story Jesus is telling, the “father” represents God. If we accept that representation, we have to see some wisdom in the father’s decision, and I think it is this: he sets his son free, even to make mistakes. That is a hard thing for a parent, but I think it is a part of remembering that our children really are their own persons, able and responsible for making their own decisions, and that even though we do our very best to guide and to teach, there comes a time when we must set them free.
A Great Dad Never Stops Believing:
The second thing I notice is that a great dad never stops believing. Verse 20 says, “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him”. That tells me he was watching, he was hoping, he was believing that the home of love that he had worked so hard to create would be a powerful enough draw that his son would, as the Scripture says, “come to his senses” and return home. For some of you, this might be tough – perhaps your relationship has been strained, and there is great distance between you and your child. Don’t give up! Don’t stop believing! Your child can never go so far that they are out from underneath God’s care, and God’s love. Take responsibility for whatever part you played in the breakdown of that relationship, and keep believing that it can be restored.