Summary: The purpose of this sermon is to motivate the hearers to affirm to others that ONE OF GOD’S greatest acts of love is shown in how He forgives and welcomes the return home of his shameful and disgraceful children with open arms and loving gestures.

18 March 2007

U.S. Army Chaplain (MAJ) Ken Harris

Fort Ord Chapel

Seaside, California

BIG IDEA: One of God’s greatest act of love is His FORGIVENESS OF SINNERS. .

References: Luke 15:1-32 (NIV); Psalm 32:1-11 (Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered …); Joshua 9:5-12; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; 2 Corinthians 5:17 (So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!); 1 Samuel 15:23 (KJV) For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king;


II. READ THE PERICOPE: Luke 15:11-24 (NIV)

III. READ THE TEXT: Luke 15:19-20 (NIV) “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men. So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

IV. PURPOSE: Motivate the hearers to affirm to others that ONE OF GOD’S greatest acts of love is shown in how He forgives and welcomes the return home of his shameful and disgraceful children with open arms and loving gestures.


Wow! We have just witnessed an awesome display of musical talent combined with ministry. Ministry that didn’t just occur to the young in our congregation this morning. But, musical ministry which addressed everyone regardless of their age. Please join me in giving these young men called, “Driven By Christ” another round of applause for having done such an awesome work of ministry. I’m sure their fathers are proud of them. Because it takes lot of work to get young men at the point of doing what we have just witnessed. Their fathers must be proud! Being a father is tough duty.

*****************Take 5 Beats******************

MOVE 1: Being a father of a teenager is even tougher duty.

a. Because, it’s a tremendous responsibility that is often time met with challenges of rebellion.

b. REBELLION that IS brought on by both A DESIRE TO BE INDEPENDENT AND GROWN. (Talk about your personal experience of Rebellion as a teen with your father).

c. In our scripture this morning, we find an example of SIN described as a REBELLIOUS SON taking a flippant stand AGAINST HIS LOVING FATHER.

d. For don’t you remember, Jesus had just finish instructing his disciples and the great multitude when the religious scholars and theological pundits (Pharisees and scribes) notice that tax collectors, prostitutes, thieves and crooks were seemly drawn to Jesus’ ministry.

e. They growled and complained that Jesus even fellowshipped with sinners.

f. Apparently they were not aware that God’s greatest act of love is best demonstrated through His gracious acts of “forgiveness”.

g. Therefore, Jesus shared three parables with them. First, he discussed the idea of a shepherd having 100 sheep and losing one sheep.

h. Yet, his love for the one caused him to leave 99 sheep in a safe haven to search and fine the ONE LOST SHEEP.

i. Second, you may recall Jesus talked about the housewife who lost one of her most precious coins.

j. And she turned the house upside down until she found the coin in which she lost.

k. Then to best illustrate forgiveness and the love of the Father, he shared the story about a REBELLIOUS SON.

l. The rebellious son in this story is the youngest of two sons.

m. But, you and I know that it’s not always the youngest who is the most rebellious.

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MOVE 2: Sometimes it’s the “middle son,” and at other times it’s the oldest son. It can even be the only “son”.

a. The point of the matter is REBELLION is a sin.

b. For the Bible says, … rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. (1 Sam 15:23a KJV).

c. In our scripture this morning, rebellion is committed by the YOUNGEST son.

d. Jesus paints the image of REBELLION on the CANVAS of our minds from a Middle Eastern Cultural perspective. For don’t you remember, …

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MOVE 3: He tells us of a son’s REBELLIOUS desire to become independent and to show that he has become a man early on in life, when he declares that he has had enough of staying home in obedience to his father and wants to be on his own.

a. Not only does he want to be on HIS OWN and leave home, but he also wants everything that belongs to him, and he WANTS IT NOW.

b. He wants his inheritance, which is another way of saying, “Father, I wish you were dead, so that I could cash in my inheritance.

c. Such a demand is ridiculous, especially in the Middle Eastern Cultural environment.

d. The Jewish Cultural dictated that the oldest son would receive two-thirds of the inheritance while the youngest son would receive one-third of the inheritance.

*******************Take 5 Beats*****************

MOVE 4: In our scripture, the Father simply divides the inheritance amongst them without any quarrel from the oldest son.

a. Who could have set an example and said, “father I will have no part of this foolishness”.

b. You keep my share.

c. But, the scripture doesn’t tell us that the oldest son put up such a fight.

d. So, on a deeper level, from the onset both sons rip their father’s heart – the one that stayed and the one that strayed.

e. After the youngest embarrasses his Father and REBELLIOUSLY Leaves Monterey and goes far, far away from home San Francisco.

f. He spends everything he had, and finds himself in the midst rising food causes and a financial depression.

g. So he decides to get a job and work as someone else’s servant on a farm to make ends meet.

***************Take 5 Beats*******************

MOVE 5: His rebellion caused him to embarrassed his father and leave his comfortable village (home) where food was always free.

a. Now, his rebellion has him desiring to even eat the SLOP fed to the pigs.

b. For someone in the Jewish Culture this was the ultimate disgrace.

c. Because pigs and hogs were unclean animals.

d. And of course a Jew did not even eat pork; do he definitely wouldn’t want to be in a situation where he desired to eat the slop thrown together for the pigs and hogs to eat.

e. So, it was at this point, the youngest son realized that even his father’s yard man lived better than he was now living.

f. So, out of his need of self-preservation, he came to himself.

********************Take 5 Beats*********************

MOVE 6: In other words, his eyes were suddenly open to the fact that he had been a dirtbag; but at this point, he still didn’t have any real remorse.

a. He knew he had wronged and embarrassed his father.

b. And he knew, by now, everyone in their “village” were cognizant of his departure and desire to become a man.

c. All of his friends, no doubt, had been talking about how he took his inheritance and ran away from home.

d. He said to himself, I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son:

e. In other words, “I am a dirtbag”, make me as one of thy hired servants.

f. But, while he was still at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

****************Take 5 Beats*******************

MOVE 7: In the Middle Eastern Culture, it was disgraceful and self-inflicted embarrasement for a distinguished man such as the son’s father to run through the village.

a. Therefore, the Jewish man always walk.

b. For this father to run … especially toward the son who had caused him THE GREATEST amount of embarrassment, was the ultimate ACT OF LOVE AND FORGIVENESS.

c. Seeing his father run through the village towards him was the “straw that broke the camel back” for the son.

d. He was truly sorrowful for having rebelled and hurt his father who obviously loved him dearly.

e. And the father wasn’t afraid to show everyone that he had already forgiven and restored his strayed son.

f. Tthe father broke the law of the village by running towards his son when it was unacceptable for distinguish Jewish men to run.

g. But, it didn’t matter. The father ran towards his son with open arms for all to see.

h. The son that was once a dirtbag (and a sinner) and was no longer vile and unworthy.

i. He was now top-notch (winner); and they were firing up the Bar-B-Q Grill for the cook-out.

*********************Take 5 Beats******************

CELEBRTION: In our scripture today, the father only allowed the son to recite half of HIS speech,….

before he interrupted him… and commanded his servants to bring the youngest son the best robe, to put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet, and slaughter their biggest cow and prepare the barbeque.

All because this son had gone from dirtbag to top-notch:

… from unworthy to honorable.

So, the theological question is asked, “How does one go from Dirtbag to Top-notch?

The answer is by doing what the prodigal son did – going home to the father; and repenting of one’s sins.

And just as the father lovingly forgave the son of his embarrassing acts of sin; He will also forgive us too.