Summary: This sermon looks at the parable of the Prodigal Son, and explores the relationship between the father, the younger son, and the older son. The intertwined relationship of this family shows that love and respect should be the key values of our church.
Lately I have been binge watching this new American TV series called “This is us”. It’s about a family with triplets and their intertwining stories with each other now, when the characters are grown up, but it constantly flashes back to their childhood times. It shows how their loving parents taught them when they were young, and then it would fast forward to their lives today and we get to see how they make decisions. My brother in California first told me about this and he said, “Joanne, you’ve got to watch this, but be prepared to cry like a little girl.” I said, “Yeah right, I’m not gonna cry like a little girl.” Yup. I cried like a little girl.
A very key character in the show is the Dad of the triplet. He’s an ordinary looking man named Jack. Kinda skinny, dark hair, with mustache, but he’s a very positive guy and he knows how to turn any situation of the family into something good. For example, every year, the family really dreaded spending Thanksgiving with their very judgmental grandparents. They have to take a long road trip and have to wear ugly Christmas sweaters. One year, they got into a car accident. But somehow, just when it cannot get worse than this, he turned it into an incredible day filled with happy memories and it was that day they created these unique traditions for the family like having hotdogs with crackers and watch Police Academy 3 every Thanksgiving day and they kept the tradition until today. It becomes a part of their family culture.
And with the constant flashback from present time and childhood time we see how the Dad made a tremendous impact on his three children’s lives. The values that the Dad instilled in them when they were young, affects how they as adults make decisions now. But the frustrating part is, we know at some point the Dad died. But they never tell us just how he died. It seems to be a major event in the children’s lives and maybe the kids have something to do with it. But you don’t know. You’d think in one episode one would find out how he died, but nope, they didn’t tell you. Then you’re at the last episode of season 1 and you’d think, now they’re gonna tell us how he died. But nope. You have wait until season 2. It’s very frustating.
“Welcome Home” – our core values
We are starting a new series called “Welcome Home”. In this series we will talk about our core values in ICF. What is our version of “This is Us”. These values determine how we behave and how we respond to situations.
That means if you walk into any ICF churches around the world, they may have different styles but you will experience people living out those values. And the three core values are putting God first. Love and respect. And Kingdom mindset. We will explore these core values in the next weeks and today we will talk about Love and Respect through the relationship of the three characters of a famous parable: the Prodigal Son.
Because in this passage, Jesus also wants to redefine the culture for the people.
Read Luke 15:11-32
I will read Luke 15: 11-32. But since this is such a famous passage, I will give you a challenge as you read it. I want you to find where in the story could be shocking to the people back in those times in the ancient near eastern culture.
The beginning of Luke chapter 15 explains why Jesus tells this parable, it says that one day, groups of tax collectors and “sinners” gathered around Jesus because they are so attracted to him and his teaching. And in verse 1 of Luke 15 it says, “the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, saying, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”
And Jesus thinks to himself, “Ok, how can I show these people, socially unaccepted people and really religious people, what’s the whole point of it all? What is really God’s heart?
So Jesus told a few stories. Stories that people can relate to at that time but also radical at the same time.
1. The initiating love of God
Jesus first told a parable about the lost sheep, how a shepherd leaves behind the 99 sheeps to find the one lost sheep, 1 in 100. Then he tells the parable of the lost coin, how a woman looks everywhere for her lost coin and was so happy when she found it, she told everybody. 1 in 10. And then, finally, a parable about the lost sons. It’s getting more and more personal. All of his sons were actually lost. When the younger son returns the father is so happy about it he throws a big party.. But this story it’s a little bit different from the other two parables because in the prodigal son, not only does it talk about how happy he is to find something that was lost, it also talks about the things that were lost.