Summary: The Character and Nature of our heavenly Father
Luke 15:11-32 - The Prodigal Son
Story: The son of a wealthy man expected to receive a sports car for his graduation.
Instead, his Dad called him into his study, told him that he loved him and handed him a gift wrapped box.
When he opened it, he found it contained a leather bound Bible, with his name inscribed on the spine.
Angrily, the young man tossed the box on his father’s desk and stormed out saying: “With all your money, all you can give me is a Bible!”
And they never spoke again - despite the fact that the young man’s father tried hard to contact him.
Years later, the young man got a call to say his Dad had died, leaving him everything.
As he was going through his father’s belongings, he found that Bible, still in its box.
Curious, he took the Bible out of the box and opened it.
The page fell open at a passage his father had marked. And as he looked at the page, he noticed that his Dad had underlined Mt. 7:11,
“ If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father give what is good to those who ask Him. “
And as he read it, a car key fell from inside the Bible.
It had a tag with the dealer’s name on it – for the sports car that he had wanted years earlier.
On the tag beside his graduation date he saw the words: “Paid in full love Dad.”
How little did that young man know the character and nature of his father.
How little do we know the character and nature of our Heavenly Father. So many have the picture of God as being out to “stop us having fun” or a stern headmaster.
Jesus, in our Gospel reading – in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, paints a beautiful portrait of the character and nature of God – a Father always ready to forgive.
Quote: The theologian William Barclay said, “For centuries the third parable (of Luke 15) has been called ‘The Parable of the Prodigal Son.’ It would be far better if we were to call it ‘The Parable of the Loving Father’ for it is the father and not the son who is the hero of the story.”
I wonder how well you remember the story.
1. Question: In our Gospel reading this morning, how many people actually said something in the story of the Prodigal Son:
Four. The Father, The Prodigal, the Elder brother and the Servant who the Elder Brother asks what is going on?
2. Question: What did the younger son do when hsi afther gave him his money?
Answer: He left home and wasted it on reckless living
3. Question: When all the money was gone, what did the Prodigal son do?
Answer: He went to feed pigs
4. Question: Whe he came to his senses, what did the Prodigal Son do
Answer; He went home and said sorry
5. Question: And what did his father say?
Answer: “Welcome home, son”.
We have become so accustomed to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, that we take it for granted.
However when Jesus told his parable, his audience – first century Jews would have been shocked for three reasons.
1. The first reason is BECAUSE in the parable the Father agrees to the Prodigal Son’s demand in the first place.
It has been suggested, that the prodigal’s request would have been tantamount to telling the Father that he wished that the Old Man was dead.
And the father’s reaction in giving the son his inheritance was simply contrary to conventional Jewish wisdom.
We read in the book of Sirach,
"To son or wife, to brother or friend, do not give power over yourself as long as you live, and do not give your property to another in case you change your mind and must ask for it…...
For it is better that your children should ask from you than you should look to the hand of your children." (Sirach 33:20 &22)
However, in this parable the Father grants the Prodigal Son’s request.
Here, Jesus gives us a picture of God who against his better judgement is prepared to allow us decide our own future – either with God or without him.
We have not been created as robots – only programmed to do what God says.
God has given us the free will to do with our life what we will.
God wants us to CHOOSE to walk his ways – to come to Him – not by coercion but through love.
Yet when we decide not to walk with God, we often see sad consequences.
2. The second reason why the Parable would have been shocking to Jesus’ Jewish audience is the reaction of the Father - when he sees his Prodigal coming home.