Summary: Sermon’s purpose is to move people to love God by showing the amazing love of the Prodigal Father.
[This sermon is contributed by Hal Seed of New Song Church in Oceanside, California and of www.PastorMentor.com. Hal is the author of numerous books including The God Questions and The Bible Questions. If you are interested in The Bible Questions Church-wide Campaign, please visit and watch Hal’s video at www.PastorMentor.com.]
Measuring Your Worth In God’s Eyes
One of the very first songs I ever learned to play on the guitar was a John Denver tune called, “Prodigal Son.” Do some of you remember that?
I wasn’t a Christian at the time, but I was vaguely aware that John Denver got the title from a story in the Bible. So, even though I had no clue what the word “Prodigal” meant, it didn’t really bother me, because my perception at the time was that the Bible was such an old book that you couldn’t understand anything in it anyway.
Later, when I did become a Christian and came across the story in the NT, I remember thinking, “Oh yeah! so this is the prodigal son story,” and wondering briefly what the word meant. After reading the story, I figured that a prodigal must be some sort of wanderer, because after all, the prodigal son in this story wandered off, didn’t he?
So it wasn’t until years later that I actually got out a dictionary and looked up the word prodigal.
Anybody want to know what I found?
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, “Prodigal” = recklessly wasteful, extravagant…
The story of the “prodigal son” is the story of a son who was recklessly wasteful. Having convinced his father to give him his inheritance early, he squandered it all on fast living before coming home.
Only I don’t think that’s what this story is about. I don’t think this is a story about a son. I think the story is actually about the father.
Notice how it begins: There was a man who had two sons. – Luke 15:11
Who’s the subject of that sentence? The man. His sons are the object.
THIS IS THE STORY OF THE PRODIGAL FATHER. It’s about a father who is extravagant, recklessly wasteful with his love for his children.
If you study this story carefully, you’ll discover that it can tell you more about God than you’ve ever dreamed. This story is one of the most important stories in the entire Bible, because it’s the story of what the Heavenly Father is like.
If you want to know how God feels about you, if you want to know how much you are worth in God’s eyes, if you’ve ever wondered if you have any significance in this vast universe, then this is the story for you.
This story answers the question, “How does God feel about you?” Can I tell you about it?
The story is a story Jesus tells. We learned last week that it’s the third story in a triumvirate of stories He tells in response to some muttering the Pharisees were doing when they saw him hanging out with the riffraff of Israel.
The Pharisees didn’t like it that He, a fellow Rabbi, was dragging down the reputation of all Rabbis by associating with the outcasts of society.
This muttering and whispering doesn’t sit well with Jesus. So He turns to them and tells them about a shepherd who had a hundred sheep and lost one, and a woman who had ten coins, and lost one, and a father who had two sons, and lost one. – That’s what we covered last week.
Friends, for years I read this story thinking the son was the center of the action. My whole view of God was elevated when I finally saw that the father, not the son, was the star.
The story of the prodigal father is a story told in five scenes.
Scene 1 is set on the family homestead. It’s about A. THE FATHER DIVIDING HIS PROPERTY between his two sons.
Scene 2 covers what happens to the B. YOUNGER SON IN THE FAR-AWAY LAND, where he runs to to escape the scorn of the village.
Scene 3 describes the interaction between the father and the younger son when C. THE YOUNGER SON RETURNS
Scene 4 picks up with D. THE OLDER SON IN THE FIELD.
And scene 5 is about how E. THE OLDER SON… RETURNS? – Or does he? To understand that, you have to understand a whole bunch of rich first century Jewish culture.
This is such an amazing story that I want you to see it in full digital video, with Dolby surround sound. So, for the next 15 minutes, I want to pretend that you know almost nothing about first century Jewish culture and fill in the whole picture, scene by scene.
In scene 1, [A. THE FATHER DIVIDING HIS PROPERTY] the younger son asks the father to divide his property between his sons so the younger can have his inheritance now.