Summary: In Jesus Parable of the Loving Father we see 1. The love of forgiveness and 2. The Joy that Forgiveness brings to everyone. Forgiveness starts with a heart of holy love and ends with rejoicing and celebration!
Proposition: In Jesus' Parable of the Loving Father we see 1. The love of forgiveness and 2. The joy of forgiveness
I had the privilege of growing up in the hills of Eastern Kentucky in a little town called Beattyville, Kentucky. It was made up of hard working and loving people. I had the joy of attending a school full of some amazing teachers. One of those teachers was a lady by the name of Ms. Gladys Oliver. Every day she would do her best to teach her students the fundamentals of English, Science, History and Math. We all learned a great deal under her care and leadership.
Ms. Oliver not only taught us those fundamentals, she made sure every week that we would do some extra circular activities. At times all of us would go outside and play a game of kickball or softball. She would join in and that made the games extra special. At other times we would do a class art project or we would take some time and sing some songs or listen to music. Ms. Oliver had this wonderful gift of being able to teach in a way that it was always a joy to go to her class.
Friday afternoons in her class were the best. During the last hour each Friday our whole class would all come together and clean up our room. I know that doesn't sound like a lot of fun but she was able to make cleaning a lot of fun. We would push all the desks to one side and sweep and clean the floor. We would clean up any of the clutter that had accumulated throughout the week. We would straighten all the books on the shelves and make sure our desks were clean and tidy. Then Ms. Oliver would then appoint a few of us to do what we children thought were the greatest jobs of all
1. One job was to take the chalk board erasers outside and get all of dust out of them. You would have to hit them against a wall until all the dust was gone out of the erasers. It was a lot of fun to hit those erasers against the wall and watch all that dust fly.
2. The second greatest job was to wash and clean the green boards ( our blackboards were green). First you would have to erase all the writing that was on the green board. Then you would pick up all the chalk that was lying in the little chalk board trough. Then it would be time to get a rag and a pan of warm water and begin to wash down the green board. The goal was to have the board look like new for the next week. Sometimes it would take washing that board two or three times but each week when we got through it looked brand new - or at least it looked brand new to us.
We all felt good when we got finished. Our room was straightened up, the floor and walls were clean and the green board was all shiny again. Everything that had been put on that board that week was now gone. Everything was all new again. It all felt good and we were proud of our work.
This morning, that is very similar to what the LORD does for us when we accept His gift of forgiveness. It's like the LORD takes this great big wash cloth and fills a pan full of living water and washes away all of our sins. The Lord removes all the sin and guilt that has been written on our life's black boards. When the Lord is through we are all clean and shiny so to speak. We are forgiven inside and out.
This morning, I would like to share a message that centers on God's gift of forgiveness. In all of our readings this morning, we see that forgiveness is the central underlying theme. This is very true as we look again at the Parable of the Loving Father that we find in Luke chapter 15.
Most of us may know that story by other name - the Parable of the Prodigal Son or perhaps even the Parable of the Elder Brother. When some people teach or preach on Luke 15 the focus tends to be more on the sins committed by the sons than on the forgiveness that is given by the Loving Father. It is true that both boys do sin - one of course sinned by living a life of what the Bible calls "riotous living" while the other sins against his father by being inhospitable and unforgiving.
This morning, though, I don't want us to focus on their individual sins as much as to focus on the love and joy of forgiveness that we find in Jesus' Parable. Now, that is not to make light of their sins or to quickly dismiss those sins. Each son grieved his father by their inappropriate attitudes and actions. Both are guilty of sin and are thereby under the penalty and power of sin. Both sons need to repent and accept their father's forgiveness.