Summary: Although the main focus of the Prodigal Son parable is the ungracious brother, the assumptions made about the Prodigal’s father are enlightening.

The Heart of a Father

(Luke 15:11-32)

1. Father’s Day -- what can we say?

2. Sermon Central took a poll, and this would be mostly of pastors. The question and results are as follows:

What do you expect for Father’s Day?

A big deal 3%

Simple card/gift 42%

Nothing 35%

Surprise me 19%

3. That poll might sound like fathers are neglected. Although I typically get a simple card and gift, it is a small gift. Why? Because anything I really want I have already bought!

4. It is different, being the father of adult children. We had a great time visiting our daughter in suburban Washington D.C., in Northern Virginia.

5. We went to church with her Sunday morning, and we were not disappointed. She is involved in an excellent church, Reston Bible Church. The church even has AWANA.

6. The pastor preached about the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and he did a good job interpreting and applying it.

7. He rightly concluded that the focus of the parable was the Prodigal’s brother who was bitter that the dad forgave the Prodigal and threw a feast for him.

8. Luke makes this clear in Luke 15:1-2; the parables Jesus would teach would refute the ungracious attitude of the Pharisees in question. They were like the ungracious brother.

9. A few months ago, I wrote "Prodigal Son Parable" on my calendar square for Father’s Day. And even though I heard Pastor Minter’s sermon on this parable, my approach will be different because I am going to focus on a side character.

Main Idea: Although the main focus of the Prodigal Son parable is the ungracious brother, the assumptions made about the Prodigal’s father are enlightening.


A. He Had Worked Hard and Saved Money (apparently)

1. Most of us are probably not as wealthy, when compared to the norm, as this man

--wealth or deprivation are always relative…

2. Most men have a dual instinct to provide for the family & protect the family

3. It is ironic how modern society has changed these dynamics

• We live in an age of the specialist, whereas people used to be generalists

• Yet, when it comes to gender specialization, we have gone the opposite direction

• And so flex we must; but men still need that sense of responsibility to protect & provide…

• Men have made a big transition in my lifetime, but are often not given credit…

• Some of the older men in our church have never changed a diaper, for example…

B. He Wanted His Sons to Walk with the Lord

----- We can assume he had trained his son as did almost all Jewish men

----- Probably trained his son in the Scripture, prayer, and godly living

------Practical training as well….(do not minimize)


How many of these things are relevant and how many need to be qualified? Which are keepers?

10.When he was your age, kids had to walk six miles to school in the snow and rain . . . uphill both ways.

9. If he had acted like you, his father would have knocked him into the middle of next week.

8. When he was your age, kids had to make their own fun.

7. You weren’t born in a barn.

6. When he was your age, he had to work for what he got.

5. You don’t wanna make Dad stop the car.

4. “Because I said so” is a reason that makes perfect sense to an adult.

3. Stop crying or he’ll give you a reason to cry (like you didn’t already have one).

2. You’d lose your head if it wasn’t attached.

And the #1 thing you learned from your father . . .

1. Money doesn’t grow on trees!

SOURCE: Submitted by Bob Hostetler, Cobblestone Community Church, Oxford, Ohio. Sermon Central

If some Dr. Spock-like psychologist wrote this parable, he might say that the Prodigal left home because his father oppressed him, or that he was sheltered from life by his overly-protective mother and the poor financial prospects in a profit-driven society. Or they would blame it on the president who should have provided more programs to occupy troubled teens and young men.

Or others could argue that the Rabbis were not strict enough, or that the boy was forced to go the Synagogue every Saturday and now he is rebelling.

But the parable is woefully lacking in blame. The son --despite his father’s goodness -- made a choice -- it was that simple. And sometimes, folks, that is still what happens today. We each have wills of our own.

Some dads do mess up big time and seriously scar or traumatize or embitter their children. A number of you have suffered emotional handicaps because of your dads. But sometimes it can be too easy to blame dad and thus avoid personal responsibility. We can do wrong things and defend ourselves to our consciences in the name of upbringing.

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