Summary: Jesus uses the parable of the Prodigal Son to teach us some important things about God the Father.
“The Stories that Jesus Told”
Sermon # 1
“What To Do When We Mess up Bad”
The Parable of the Loving Father
It has always troubled me that you as a congregation seem to remember my stories better than you do my sermons! I have still not heard the end of the fact that I packed all my wife’s clothes at the end of our cruise.
I console myself with the knowledge that even Jesus had that problem, for people seemed to remember better the stories that he told than the sermons that he preached. I believe there is a good reason for that, and that is because a good story connects with us as listeners. Jesus, of course, realized how powerful good stories are and he used them frequently in His teaching ministry. Today we refer to “The stories that Jesus Told” as parables.
The story that I want us to examine first in
our study shows us “What to do when we mess up big time!” It is really a story about how to relate to our heavenly father. Unfortunately how we relate to God as our heavenly father is based to some extent on how we relate to our father in this life. If have a good father then we do not have a problem, but if our father was absent or if our father was present but we did not enjoy a good relationship then that carries over into our relationship with heavenly God. Jesus wanted to present that our heavenly father is not a father who is just waiting for us to mess up so he can thump us on the head, instead he is a loving father who is ready to welcome us home. The story that Jesus told about God as the loving heavenly father is found in Luke 15 where beginning in verse eleven it says, “Then He said: "A certain man had two sons” and is often called the Parable of the Prodigal Son but in reality it is a story about the love of God and his acceptance of those who have made bad choices, and messed up big time. Jesus has some important things that he wants to teach us about God the Father.
First, God Loves You So Much That He Allows You To Make Your Own Choices!
“Then He said: "A certain man had two sons. (12) And the younger of them said to his father, "Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’
One of the things that disturbs us about God is that He refuses to step in and stop us or others from doing what is wrong. God has given us the awesome gift of free will. We think that we would like for God to be more controlling – at least in the lives of other people. We would like to have Him force them to do the right things and stop them from doing the wrong things. But God knows that the moment He forces us to do His will, it means nothing!
Verse twelve continues with, “So he divided to them his livelihood.” The father granted his wish and gave his son what he wanted. The Greek text shows the anguish of the father, it literally says, “He divided to then his life.” The father gave into his son, not because he was a permissive parent – not because he did not care what happened to his son – but because he was giving his son what he thought he wanted. Some times the worst thing God can do for us is to allow us to have what we think we want. God allows us to have what we thin we want – in the hope that someday he would want something better!
The truth is that in his pursuit of pleasure, pain would be this young man’s constant companion until the images of this world’s allurement are replaced by the images of a home where he was loved and valued.
This story shows us Three Ways the Prodigal Son Offended His Father.
1. He Asked For His Inheritance Early (v. 12)
"Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’
He asks for his inheritance in a legal but highly unusual request. The boy was in effect saying, “Dad I do not want to have to wait around for get what is mine, and since you haven’t died soon enough to suit me, I want what is mine.” I think that it is interesting that this young man’s fall began the moment he started demanding his rights.
2. He Sold His Inheritance! (v. 13a)
“And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together…” In today’s terminology we would say, “He liquidated his assets.” He not only received His inheritance early he sold it! In the culture of the day you did not sell the land that belonged to your family. Apparently giving no thought to how his selfishness would affect the entire household, he took one-third of the family resources and left home to live it up.