Summary: Father’s Day service looking at Jesus our Father King (6th in Worship the King series). It’s the Prodigal Son story, but more like the Faithful Father aspect.
Luke 15:11-32 – How to Love a Wandering Child
Apparently, some kids had talked Mom into getting a hamster. They promised to take care of their pet, whom they named “Danny.”
Within two months, though, Mom was taking care of Danny. One day Mom decided enough was enough; Danny would be given to a new owner. She called the kids together to tell them. One child said, “I’ll miss him. He’s been around here a long time.” The other child remarked, “Maybe he could stay if he ate less and wasn’t so messy.” Mom was firm: “It is time to take Danny to a new home.”
“Danny?” the kids wailed, “We thought you said Daddy.”
Today we are celebrating Father’s Day, and the role that fathers play in the household. Over the next few minutes we will be looking at a father in the Bible, in a story Jesus told. This father, the father of what we call the prodigal son, is a reflection of our Heavenly Father. Hopefully, by the end of today, we will see better what it means to be loved by God. Turn with me to Luke 15.
An 8-year-old wrote about love and true love: “Love is when Daddy reads me a bedtime story. True love is when he doesn’t skip any of the pages.” I don’t know if it’s that simple, but we will see how God’s love shows itself in several ways, from this story. Let’s read: v11-12.
We can see that the father loved his child enough to give him free will. I suppose the dad could have prevented his son from leaving. He certainly could have withheld his share of the inheritance. After all, the son sinned greatly against his father, in 3 ways: 1) in Palestinian culture, asking for your inheritance early is in effect the same as wishing your parents were dead – that’s the deepest offense a child can dish out to a parent (2) part of what the father gave to his son was land – land was and is a valuable family heritage, and the son wanted it for himself (3) the son squandered his inheritance on wild living. You see, the land and the flocks were the family’s social security system. Aged parents made it through the end of their lives by living off the estate. So, not only does the son see part of the estate, but he also spends his family’s social security system in a far-off land. This was highly offensive to the father and the family.
But the father loved him enough to let him go. Folks, God lets us do our own things, because He loves us. There is evil in the world because God did not want to create robots but freely-thinking individuals. God lets us do what we want in an effort to show us the foolishness of sin and of going our own way. It’s because He wants us to return to him and serve Him out of love, not duty.
And that’s what happened – v13-20a. Even though it was fun for a while, self-indulgence eventually led to self-expense – he spent it all; he lost it all. And self-expense turned into self-degradation – imagine the shame he felt for a Jewish boy to want the food the pigs were eating. When he “came to his senses” (v17), he saw that he was not where he wanted to be. He developed a self-awareness, the feeling that you have to do something about your situation.
So he rehearsed a little speech, apologizing for his behavior. And he headed back home. And his father saw him. How in the world could his father have seen him at such a great distance? Because the father was watching and waiting. That is the love of our God – keeping His eyes on the lost, searching for the wanderers. We face the temptation to give up on the lost causes; meanwhile, God is still looking for them. That’s love.
So, what did the father do when he saw his son returning home? V20b. He ran to him. He pulled up his cloak, very undignified for a wealthy Palestinian, and ran to his son. The father was willing to look like a fool to show his love. And you know, some would say the same thing about our God. To leave the comforts of heaven, to come to earth as a human being, with all our frailties and weaknesses – some have said this was foolish. But it was the best way to show how much He loves us.
This scene says so much about the father’s love. It says that our Father comes to our defense – after all, if some men in the town had seen the boy first, they may have wanted to put an OT law in action and stone the punk. The story also says that the father kissed the son. A kiss was a sign of full acceptance and friendship. By kissing his son publicly, the father received him and restored him. Our Heavenly Father does the same – when we come to Him in humility and honesty, He fully accepts us and never brings the past up again.