Summary: For Father's Day we look at what made the father in the story of the prodigal son special
Well here we are, week three of our look at the Prodigal Son and the rest of the story. And all three of our weeks have their beginning in Luke 15:11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.”
In week one we looked at the younger son, the “Prodigal Son”. We always picture him as a young man, in his late teens or early twenties but there is no evidence of that. All we know is that he was younger than his brother. My father is the younger son, and he is 76.
And we began with him because really the story is about him and the choices he made. You will recall that he asked his father to divide the family estate between himself and his older brother. And the story tells us that the Father did exactly that, and the younger brother took his share and wasted it on wild living, reckless living, prodigal living, depending on the translation you use.
But he chose to live that way, nobody put a gun to his head and forced him to spend all his money in wild living it was a choice he made, I’m sure he could identify with Oscar Wilde who said, “I can resist everything except temptation.”
And you know the story, eventually a famine came upon the land and the young man had spent all of his money. And it is remarkable how quickly fair weather friends disappear when the fair weather ends.
And this brother ends up, we are told, tending pigs. Pigs! For a Jew of that day, there would be no other job that signified the bottom of the barrel like tending pigs. In the Old Testament we are told in Leviticus 11:7-8 The pig has evenly split hooves but does not chew the cud, so it is unclean. You may not eat the meat of these animals or even touch their carcasses. They are ceremonially unclean for you. And I would suspect that the law had a very practical purpose, it was for the people’s protection. It would have been very difficult for pork to be cooked to a safe temperature. And here he was taking care of pigs. And the bible tells us that the son “Came to his senses”. And he realized that even the hired hands back home were treated better then he was.
And so in the same way that he chose to leave home, he chose to return home. But much to his surprise he was greeted not as a servant but as a son. And his father threw a party for his son to celebrate his return home.
But not everyone was happy, in particular his older brother.
In week one we looked at why the younger brother needed to be celebrated. That he was willing to acknowledge that he had done wrong, that he was willing to return to his father that he was willing to own up to his mistakes.
Those are the steps that still lead each one of us home to the father.
Last week we looked at the Morning after the Party. And part of that was celebrating the faithfulness of the older son. You know the one who took care of his parents and got up every day and went to work doing the things that needed to be done.
And we talked about how the same God who can deliver us from sin can give us the strength that will keep us from sin, how he will and does answer the prayer, “Lead me not into temptation.”
And I mentioned how it somehow seems easier to celebrate the person who beats an addiction then to celebrate the person who never took the first drink or smoked their first cigarette. It was Mark Twain who said “It is easier to stay out than get out.”
And that seemed like a fitting message to deliver on the day we were celebrating our High School Graduates. “It is easier to stay out than get out.”
And both of those messages dealt with choices, good choices and bad choices but choices never the less. And it is a reminder that kids can be raised in the same home by the same parents and still choose to take very different paths in life.
And for all their differences in their attitudes and the choices that they made the one thing that the two sons had in common was their father. And so today, on Father’s day it is quite fitting to look at the father.
So let’s start at the beginning because that is usually the best place to start. Jesus has been telling his followers how much God loves lost people and after he tells a story about a man finding his lost sheep and a woman finding her lost coin and then we read. Luke 15:11-12 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.