Summary: God never gives up on his children.
THE FORGIVING FATHER
A. As much as we like to believe that our Heavenly Father is a God of COMPASSION, MERCY, and
GRACE, there are still some Christians who have difficulty accepting God’s complete FORGIVENESS.
1. There are those who look at their lives as being so STAINED with SIN that they cannot believe that God can possibly FORGIVE them.
2. Then there are those who LOOK at the people whose lives are so STAINED with SIN, and they can’t believe that God can possibly FORGIVE them, either.
This PARABLE addresses both GROUPS.
B. The Bible teaches that God is a FORGIVING FATHER regardless of how MANY or how GREAT our sins might be.
1. Isaiah 1:18- “‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
2. Micah 7:18-19- “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
3. Hebrews 8:12- “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
C. This is the LESSON that the Prodigal Son learned.
1. Although he had been in the DISTANT COUNTRY wallowing in the PIG PEN of SIN, when finally “came to his senses” and RETURNED HOME, he found his Father WAITING and WATCHING for his RETURN.
The Father was their to FORGIVE. Actually, the Father was FORGIVING all along, but the SON didn’t know that. He was out in the WORLD having a GOOD TIME living to PLEASE himself, until he wound up in the PIG PEN. But it wasn’t until he RETURNED HOME that he received the BENEFIT of God’s FORGIVENESS.
2. God is a FORGIVING FATHER, but while we are out in the DISTANT COUNTRY we’re not receiving the BENEFIT of God’s FORGIVENESS.
It’s not until we COME HOME to God that He EMBRACES us and RESTORES us to the PLACE of SONS and DAUGHTERS.
D. Today is the story of the FORGIVING FATHER- Luke 15:17-24 (READ)
I WANT YOU TO SEE WHAT KIND OF HEAVENLY FATHER WE HAVE:
I. A FATHER WHO FORGIVES – v. 20
A. Imagine the PRODIGAL SON’S trip back HOME!
Here he is in the PIG PEN—FRIENDLESS, HOMELESS, STARVING. He finally realizes the MISERY that his SELFISHNESS, ARROGANCE, and UNGODLY LIFE have gotten him into. He REMEMBERS his Father back HOME—how LOVING and KIND he was to him. And even though his Father had certain DEMANDS and had set down certain RULES that he expected his SONS to ABIDE by, the PRODIGAL now UNDERSTANDS that what his Father COMMANDED was for his best WELFARE and GROWTH, and was not being UNREASONABLE at all. Now he decides to RETURN HOME and CONFESS to his Father how he had SINNED against God and against him.
As he begins his long JOURNEY, he is PHYSICALLY, EMOTIONALLY, and SPIRITUALLY exhausted. He left HOME in REBELLION and returns home REPENTANT. He is in RAGS, he is DIRTY and FILTHY and the STENCH of the PIG PEN is upon him. Shoeless, he begins that LONG WALK HOME—that LONG, TORTUROUS road to face his FATHER, to face his BROTHER, and to face FRIENDS. He left on TOP of the WORLD, but now he comes back as a former HOG SLOPPER.
Each STEP is AGONIZING, but he knows he wants to go HOME regardless of how difficult the TRIP might be. He now wants his Father. I can picture the young son STUMBLING, perhaps CRAWLING—RESTING for a while, and then FORCING himself to get up and take a few more FEEBLE STEPS towards HOME.
Underlying this TRIP HOME, is the ANXIETY of what will HAPPEN. What will his FATHER do? How will his BROTHER react? What’s going to happen when he finally reaches HOME?
B. What truly HAPPENED is UNBELIEVABLE!
1. “While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him…” – v. 20
I don’t think that was an ACCIDENT. I believe there was a PATH worn to the HIGHEST
HILL! I am sure the Father anxiously LOOKED for his son everyday.
Undoubtedly when his son LEFT he felt this GNAWING PAIN in his CHEST. He knew deep down that his son was HEADING for RUIN. Had he TRIED to stop his son, he would have REBELLED even more and LEFT anyway, and probably never RETURN. The Father had to STAND BY and WATCH his son FALL. That was the HARDEST things for him to do, but it had to be done.