Summary: Jesus tells of God’s wonderful grace and His all-encompassing love by relating the three experiences of the wasteful son: Rebellion, Repentance, and Rejoicing!
The Prodigal Son
by Scott R. Bayles (after Warren Wiersbe)
Church of Christ
Several years back, during a conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated, what--if any--belief was unique to the Christian faith. The debate went on for some time, until C.S. Lewis wandered into the room. "What’s the ruckus about?" he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions. Lewis responded, "Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace."
A sort of enlightened hush fell over the crowd. The people at the conference had to agree. The idea of God’s love coming to us free of charge, no strings attached, seems to go against every instinct we have. The Buddhist eight-fold path, the Hindu doctrine of Karma, the Jewish covenant, and Muslim code of law--all of these offer a way to earn approval. Only Christianity shows us that God’s love is unconditional and unmerited!
It’s amazing that in all His preaching, Jesus never said grace! Believe it or not, the Bible doesn’t record where Jesus ever used that word. It was often used of Him, but never by Him. But don’t misunderstand: He taught it; He lived it; He just never said it. Then again, He said a lot about grace. We call a whole category of His stories the "grace parables." Classifications vary, but most lists include at least eight grace parables, including some of His most famous.
The shortest is Luke 7:41-42, where Jesus says, "A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?" This is Jesus’ concise picture of God’s voluminous grace. He sums up in a few syllables what all words combined could never express: "He graciously forgave them both." That’s grace!
But, perhaps the most well-renowned story of God’s grace ever told by Jesus, is the one we have come to know as the story of the Prodigal Son. It is heaven’s sermon of hope, when the devil preaches despair. This morning let’s read together this wonderful story, given by the Master story-teller, and see what we can learn about a Father’s love.
Luke 15:11-24 (NASB-u)
And He said, "A man had two sons.  The younger of them said to his father, ’Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them.  And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.  Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.  So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
 And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.  But when he came to his senses, he said, ’How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!  I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight;  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men."’  So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.  And the son said to him, ’Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  But the father said to his slaves, ’Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet;  and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;  for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate."
Jolene Horn of Atascadero, California, wrote in Today’s Christian Woman:
While putting my four-year-old daughter to bed one evening, I read her the story of the Prodigal Son. We discussed how the young son had taken his inheritance and left home, living it up until he had nothing left. Finally, when he couldn’t even eat as well as pigs, he went home to his father, who welcomed him. When we finished the story, I asked my daughter what she had learned. After thinking a moment, she quipped, "Never leave home without your credit card!"