Summary: The Prodigal Son through the eyes of the father.
Lose Something ?
March 25, 2001
We’ve all experienced misplacing something at one time or another. How many of you have searched endless for your keys ? Keys seem to have a strange way of finding the most unsuspecting places to hide. I heard about a man who came out of a local pub and had lost his keys. Several of his friends came out of the pub only to find their friend on his hands and knees searching for his keys by the streetlight.
They all began to help the man search for his lost keys. After searching in vain for several minutes one of his friends asked the man where he last had his keys. The man said up the street about 50 feet or so. The friend said, “Well then why are you down here looking for the keys?” The man looked up from the ground and said, “Because this is where the light is.” Sometimes we loose things and look in the wrong places to find them.
In this morning’s Scripture, Jesus talks about loosing things. This is really a three-part parable in which Jesus talks about three lost items. In the first section of this passage Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep. The shepherd has 100 sheep, and one wanders off and becomes lost. The shepherd leaves the 99 sheep to go and find the one who was lost. There is great rejoicing when the lost sheep is found.
In the second parable, Jesus tells the parable of the lost coin. A woman has ten coins. She loses one and sweeps the entire house clean looking for it. When she finds the lost coin, she calls all her neighbors together and says, “Celebrate with me for I have found my lost coin.” And finally Jesus tells the most gripping of all three parables, the parable of the lost son, and that is our focus this morning.
In the opening section of this passage, Luke tells us that Jesus was telling these parables to “tax collectors and sinners.” He was telling these parables to the outcast of society, but within the very earshot of the Scribes and Pharisees who were grumbling because Jesus was associating with the riff-raff of society again.
When we hear this story, we can’t help but wonder, “Who is the real audience that Jesus is trying to reach ? The tax collectors and sinners, or the Scribes and Pharisees. I think there is a message for both groups.
This morning’s story is commonly known as the Prodigal Son. (Prodigal really means extravagantly wasteful and reckless.) This is one of those passages of the Bible that Preachers get real excited over. We get excited because there is just so much meaning contained within the story. There are so many different roads you could go down, and they would all be very worthwhile traveling.
You could look at this story from the perspective of the younger son who took his inheritance early and left town, only to return later after he had spent all of his inheritance on partying. You could also look at this story from the perspective of the older son who stayed home and diligently worked side by side with his father. The older son who was so ticked off as his younger brother returned home. Or, you can look at this story from the perspective from the father who loved both of his sons equally.
Like I said, there are so many ways to look at this wonderful parable that I could very well preach for an hour on each different perspective! But since hour-long sermons aren’t too popular around here, I’ve choose to narrow my perspective down at look at this story primarily through the eyes of the father. But we can’t do that without first taking a quick look at this story from the eyes of the older son.
I must admit that our human tendency is to immediately identify with the older son. I mean after all, isn’t he the one who comes up on the short end of the stick in this deal ? It just doesn’t seem fair, does it ? Here we have the younger brother who has taken his share of the family inheritance before his father is even dead. He packs his bags and literally walks off the farm saying, “See you chumps later ! I’m just not cut out for this working life ! I’m going off to the big city and have myself some fun! No more slave labor for me !”
Then, we don’t know how long, but say maybe a year or two later, after never hearing a word from this guy, all of a sudden he shows up one day walking down to road to the family farm. The father sees him and runs out to him. The younger son confesses his sin. And what does the father do ? He embraces him, puts a robe on him, a ring on his finger, new sandals on his feet and tells the farm hands to get one of the fatted calves ready for slaughter. There’s going to be a big party !