Summary: Charles Dickens described the parable of the prodigal son as "the greatest story ever written". This sermon takes a fresh look at this familiar story.
1. THE SON’S REQUEST
"Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me" (v.11)
This was a shameful request. He was asking for his inheritance. Only the oldest son had the right to make this request. In effect, he was saying “I wish you were dead”. In Middle Eastern culture, such a son would have been slapped by his father and then publicly flogged. According to Deuteronomy 21:18-21 a son like this deserved to die. But the father was merciful to him, reminding us of the heavenly Father who is merciful to sinners even though they deserve to be punished with everlasting destruction.
2. THE SON’S REBELLION
"not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living" (v.13)
a) Prostitutes – "harlots" (v.30) sexual sin is a very common sin.
b) Poverty – "he began to be in want" (v.14) he ended up begging, like little children from the third world who hang on to coat tails.
c) Pigs – "swine" (v.15) in the spiritual sense he became a pig, sin turns a person into a pig. In the heart of a sinner there is a stinking pig, in the heart of a Christian there is a sleeping pig.
3. THE SON’S RETURN
"I will arise and go to my father" (v.18)
a) He came to his senses – "he came to himself" (v.17)
b) He came to his father – "he arose, and came to his father" (v.20)
4. THE SON’S REUNION
"when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him" (v.20)
a) Confession – "I have sinned" (v.21) Psalm 32:5 "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin".
b) Celebration – "let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry" (v.23,24)
They had already held a funeral for him. If you have not been born again, you are a corpse – spiritually speaking. Only the LORD can resurrect you.
Who was celebration in honour of? The Father not the son. This party was a celebration of a father’s grace and mercy to stinking rebel.
There’s a way back to God from the dark paths of sin,
There’s a door that is open and you may go in,
At Calvary’s cross is where you begin,
When you come as a sinner to Jesus.
(Acknowledgements to Alan Carr and John MacArthur whose thoughts greatly helped in preparation of this message)