Summary: Probably the best-known parable Jesus told is the one we call "The Parable of the Prodigal Son." But it has been suggested that the story is more about the loving, forgiving, & waiting father than it is of the prodigal son.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
A. Today is Father’s Day, & as such it is a very special day for most families in our nation. And while fathers may not always be everything that they ought to be, it is interesting to note that when Jesus wanted to illustrate the love & the nature of God, He chose to have us think of God as a heavenly father.
And when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus told them to begin with these words, "Our Father, who art in heaven."
Probably the best-known parable that Jesus told is the one we call "The Parable of the Prodigal Son." In one way or another, most of us can identify with the prodigal. And maybe that is why we have given it that name.
But it has been suggested that the point of the story is really more the loving & forgiving & waiting father than it is the prodigal son. It is about a father who waits & waits until finally his son comes back home again. Listen as I read that familiar story to you once again.
[READ Luke 15:11-14.]
ILL. Recently I listened to a friend of mine talk about his father who is now in his 70’s & who has always lived in the same little town in Illinois.
Well, as my friend grew up during the WW2 years his father was almost a stranger to him. His dad went to work early in the morning before he was up, & often came home late at night after the family had gone to bed. And when they did see him he was so tired & irritable that you really didn’t want to spend much time around him.
But his dad worked hard at providing them a good home - a place of security - a place where their needs were met. And recently, their relationship has deepened & become much stronger. He says that he is so thankful that they now have had the opportunity to grow to appreciate each other as friends & not just as father & son.
ILL. Do you remember when you brought your first child home? When our oldest child, Patty, was born fathers were not permitted to hold the baby while it was still in the hospital. You just got to look through the nursery window & imagine what it would be like. Mothers got to hold them but fathers didn’t.
And when you look at your newborn baby you realize just how fragile life is, & what an awesome responsibility is now yours to provide for its present as well as future needs.
B. As I reflect on this, if I had it all to do over again there would be two mistakes I hope I wouldn’t make the second time around.
Number one, I would realize how important it is to spend "quality" time with my children. I realize that is an overused word. But when my kids were growing up I was so busy. And of course, if you’re doing God’s work, then you really don’t have to worry about your family, do you? Oh yes, you do!
If I had it all to do over again, I would listen more, & ask more questions, & attend more activities with them.
2. My second mistake was that I didn’t realize how fast the time would pass. I somehow thought I had plenty of time to be with my children & to influence & mold their lives. But that time passes so fast.
If you’re a young father this morning & you have little children, please realize that this time is not going to last very long, & you need to use it while you have it within your grasp.
PROP. This parable about the waiting father teaches four very important lessons. I’ve put them together in clusters of three words each.
I. YOU ARE FREE!
A. First of all, it teaches that a loving father should be able to say to his children, "You are free!" These are words of release, & words of confidence expressed about your child. "You are free."
Child psychologists have long told us that the first few years of life are extremely important because that’s when attitudes are shaped, & decision-making mechanisms developed.
In those first few years as they watch Mom & Dad, as they listen, as they observe, their personalities are formed. And if we’re going to have much influence on them it must be in those first few years, because all too soon they begin to grow up.
B. Then comes a time when children almost resent parents. It’s a time of rebellion - a time of flexing muscles & saying, "I want to be free."