Summary: The Prodigal Son, the greatest homecoming story ever written.

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Homecoming Luke 15:11-32

INTRO.: Thinking of homecomings, this is possibly the most famous homecoming story in the Bible. What a wonderful homecoming ths prodigal had when he finally came to his senses. This is a story about coming home to God.

This is not the point Jesus was making. The point is to show what kind of God we serve. The story is really intended to describe the loving, forgiving nature of the Father in Heaven.

Let’s see what the story tells us about the kind of God we serve:

I. God will let you go:

A. See how the father let his son depart:

1. No doubt it broke his heart to see his son go.

2. He did not have to finance the departure. He did because he loved his son.

3. We can judge his feelings by the way he reacted when he saw his son returning.

B. This raises the question as to why God allows us to sin. Why does He permit evil?

1. The father in the story stands for God Almighty. He can do what He wants.

2. Certainly, He could stop us from committing evil acts as the father in the story could have prevented his son leaving.

3. He has given us the wonderful gift of self-determination. Free will. It is a gift of love.

4. If we are determined to dump Him, He will allow it.

C. If you decide to depart from God, be prepared for bad consequences.

1. Nothing could be worse than a Jewish boy feeding pigs to survive.

2. Some of our worst troubles result from determination to make our own decisions without regard for God or others.

3. Even if sinners prosper in this life, a time of judgement is coming.

II. God will welcome you back:

A. The son came to his senses and returned:

1. "My father’s servants eat better than I."

2. He recognized his sin and acknowledged it. The first step back.

3. Instead of just feeling sorry for himself, he made a decision and acted upon it.

B. His father saw him a long way off and ran to him:

1. No doubt he had heard reports of his son’s behavior all along and prayed for his return.

2. He ran to him. Forgot his dignity and his hurt in his eagerness to receive his son back.

3. "If you’ll take one step toward the Savior, my friend, you’ll find His arms open wide. Receive Him and all of your darkness will end; within your heart He’ll abide."

C. God knows where you are and wants you to come home.

1. Through Jesus, He has provided a way. Jn. 14:6

2. The Rabbis had a similar story with a different ending. In it, the father refuses to take his son back.

3. Jesus is telling them their concept of God is erroneous. There is joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents.

III. God will bless you richly when you return:

A. Notice all the gifts the father bestowed when his son returned home:

1. The robe, sandals, ring all signified he was accepted as part of the family. Slaves didn’t wear shoes and robes , sons did.

2. This is especially true of the ring. It was probably a signet ring. Maybe he had pawned the one he left home with.

3. The fattened calf was something reserved for honored guests.

B. Notice the words of the returning son. He realized just what his situation was.

1. "I have sinned against Heaven." Every sin is against God.

2. "And against you." Every sin affects others.

3. "I am no longer worthy to be called your son." - He was never worthy.

C. Not everyone will be happy with you when you return home:

1. The father was happy and that’s what counted.

2. If you try to live for Christ, some will criticize, laugh at you, or try to interfere with your efforts.

3. We serve a God who is hurt by our sin, yet welcomes us home with open arms and wants to bless us in every way.

CONC.: What we have in this story is a model for parents, a lesson for young people, and a message for the Church.

But, most of all, we have a picture of the God we serve: a loving Father who yearns for his children to come to Him and be a part of the family once ag ain. He craves a homecoming for his child.

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