Summary: This a Sermon that can be done as a drama. No props needed but a glass of water.
Luke 15:1-3; 11-32 (ESV)
Wow, thanks for letting me rest here for awhile and for the water. It has been a long journey, and I needed to catch my breath. I am excited to go and see some of my cousins, but really, I can’t wait for the trip to be over and to get back to my own village. I am just a worker there, but I work for the most wonderful man.
Although, sometimes, it is really hard to understand his actions. It wasn’t all that long ago when his second oldest son gave us all a shock. Out of the blue he walked up to his Dad and said, “Father, give me my share of the property that is coming to me.” I couldn’t believe it! He might as well have said, “Father, you are more good to me dead than you are alive, so you might as well give me my inheritance now.”
We all thought we knew what was coming next. A smack on the back of the head and a, “Don’t you ever talk to me that way again, get back to work!” But we all stood there, in open mouth silence as our master simply and silently went ahead and made arrangements to divide his property and livestock between his two sons. The younger son took his share, and sold it all off in only a few days, for what had to be only a fraction of what it was really worth. And then he was gone.
We got word from the occasional traveler about him. He went to a far off land and squandered his property in reckless living. And It didn’t take him long at all to empty his pockets. I imagine he had a lot of friends when he was throwing extravagant parties and buying all the wine. But they were nowhere to be found when the money ran out. In fact to make matters worse, a severe famine arose in that country and he began to be in need. This kid couldn’t find a decent job anywhere. Most people were just trying to get by themselves, much less hire anyone else.
So finally, He went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him out into the fields to feed the pigs. Feeding pigs isn’t exactly the kind of work any son of a landowner envisions himself doing when he grows up. But, this is especially true of a Jewish family. We consider pigs to be unclean animals, one that we should steer clear of. We don’t raise them, we don’t eat them, we don’t even touch them. So you can imagine how desperate my master’s son must have been to take a job looking after a bunch of pigs! And how hungry he must have been to be longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate. Gross!
He finally decided that nobody wanted him. The adoring crowds no longer adored him and wanted him to leave. The man that hired him, no longer paid him and wanted him to leave. And his Father, well the kid figured, there was no way his dad would want to see him anymore either and would send him away if he ever set foot in town again.
Still, with his stomach growling, he couldn’t help but think, “How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!” It was true. We eat well. Our master always makes sure each of our families has more than enough food. He pays us well and takes care us better than we deserve. It’s hard to imagine what his son was thinking when he left!
Well, the kid came up with what he thought was a brilliant plan. He was going to go up to his dad and apologize, to say he was sorry for being such a bonehead. But this was only part of the plan. You see, it wasn’t going to ask for full redemption. He was going to say, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”
What he was trying to say was, I know I messed up, but I will work hard to make this right. I will live in this village even though I know everyone hates me and you don’t want to talk to me. I will make enough money to pay you back. I will make it up to you. I know you can’t possibly ever see me as one of your sons, but please let me work hard to win at least a little of your favor as one of your hired laborers.