Summary: The prodigal son rpoves to be a useful story for the way in which God searches for lost mankind.
The story is told of a man named Yussif, the Terrible Turk. Yussif was a 350-pound wrestling champion in Europe a couple of generations ago. After he won the European championship, he sailed to America to wrestle our champ, whose name was Strangler Lewis -- a little guy by comparison who weighed just a shade over 200 pounds. Although he wasn't very big, Strangler had a simple plan for defeating his opponents and it had never failed to work. He's put his massive arm around the neck of his opponent and cut off the oxygen. Many an opponent had passed out in the ring with Strangler Lewis.
The problem when he fought Yussif the Turk was that Yussif didn't have a neck. His body went from his head to his massive shoulders. Lewis could never get his hold and it wasn't long that the Turk flipped Lewis to the mat and pinned him. After winning the championship, the Turk demanded all five thousand dollars in gold. After he wrapped the championship belt around his vast waist, he stuffed the gold into the belt and boarded the next ship back to Europe. He was a success! He had captured America's glory and her gold!
He set sail on the SS Bourgogne. Halfway across the Atlantic, a storm struck and the ship began to sink. Yussif went over the side with his gold still strapped around his body. The added weight was too much for the Turk and he sank like an anvil before they could get him into a lifeboat. He was never seen again.
Maybe you think, "What a fool! He should have had a lot more sense than that!" But, the truth of the matter is, we all tend to grasp the things of this world and hold onto them even while we're sinking.
I. An Insulting Request
Maybe you heard about the Desert Storm soldier who while he was overseas received a Dear John letter from his girlfriend back home in the states. To add insult to injury, she wrote, "Will you please return my favorite photograph of myself-- I need it for my engagement picture in the local newspaper."
The poor guy was devastated, but all the soldiers came to his rescue. They went throughout the entire camp and collected pictures of all the guys’ girlfriends. They filled up an entire shoe box and sent it to the girl along with a note from the guy saying, "Please find your picture, and return the rest,---for the life of me, I can’t remember which one you were!!"
A. The Insult – “I wish you were dead.”
1. Exodus 20.12
2. First command with promise
B. The Response – the Inheritance
1. A Surprise
2. A Matter of Choice
Some wander away from God like sheep in wilderness
Some don’t realize they are away from God as coin on the floor
Some choose to go away as a disrespectful son
C. The Sale – Gathered all he had = Turned into cash
1. Sold his property to the community
2. Most likely to those who did not support the family
D. A Danger – the Community Knows
1. Tend to limit the story to 3 people
2. The Community is Insulted as the Family
3. Kezazah Ceremony – “Cut Off!”
An Application: Sometimes we ask for blessings from God for our own purposes and then go our own way; we ignore him/disrespect him – are we any different from the wasteful son?
James 4.1-3 – 1What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
II. An Indulgent Lifestyle
A. Prodigal = Wasteful
1. Riotous Living in Far Country (Gentiles/Pagans)
2. May have been immoral/may not
B. What do we do with the Gifts God Gives?
1. Rain & Sun -- 43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5.43-45
2. Better than Resurrection – resurrection is to few/sun and rain to many
C. Self-Indulgent Lifestyles Usually Fall Apart
1. Runs out of money
2. Needs a job – Food/recoup losses to go home
The Good News is that God can reconstruct our lives when they fall apart: