Summary: God is elated when his children come home.
Title: When the Kids Come Home
Text: Luke 15:11-32
Thesis: God is elated when his children come home.
Parents are capable of “guilting” their adult children. Sometimes parents are blunt about it and other times it is more subtle, like slipping a shiv between your ribs. Over the years you may have said or heard things like, “Goodness, I would sure like to see my great grandchildren before I die.” Or, “Oh, you’re not coming until when?” Or, “Oh, you just got here and you’re leaving so soon?”
For many of us, it is not as if we’ve had the luxury of living nearby. In fact we have almost always lived at some distance from our family so travel and visiting relatives pretty much has consumed our vacation time. And now that Bonnie and I have grown children and grandchildren who live at some distance, we are not immune to the sense of loss experienced by families whose loved ones live some distance away.
Bonnie and I have determined that we will never guilt our kids when they visit or guilt them into visiting. We have decided a couple of things. First, we recognize that at this point in our lives it is likely easier for us to take the initiative to travel across the country than for our children to pack up their broods and transport them here. So we make an effort to do what we can… “If Mohammed can’t come to the Mountain, then Mountain will go to Mohammed,” so to speak. Second, we will be grateful for whatever time our kiddos can be with us. We make a point of saying, “Come when you can, stay as long as you like and leave when you need to leave.” (Sidebar: And then we sit around a mope about the fact that they never come and when they do they never stay… in jest!)
Now, that does not negate the fact that the highlights of our year are those special occasions when we get to see our family. So, how do we feel when the kids come home? We are elated! We are pumped! We are excited! We are loving it!
Our story today is about a man who had two sons… one was a stay at home kind of son who lived in the community with his parents and worked in the family business. The other was a prodigal. A loser…
The Urban Dictionary defines a prodigal in both good and bad ways:
A person who wastes a lot of money. A prodigal is often boastful and spends his riches lavishly. But a prodigal may also be a very generous person who lavishes good-will on others. However the caveat to that is the tendency of prodigals who hang with other prodigals… whoever has money, on any given day, blows it with his friends. There is always a party going on and if I have money, the drinks are on me. If you have money, the drinks are on you. (You get the idea.)
By definition it could be said that the Father is the real prodigal in the story. It is the Father who is extravagant and wasteful in his love for his children. And if that is true and if the story is a parable we might surmise that God is reckless and wasteful in his demonstration of love for us.
The first thing I notice in this story is the audacity of the youngest son.
I. The Audacity of the Son – Sometimes people mess-up big time!
“There was a man who had two sons. The youngest one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.” Luke 15:11-12
Some people have a lot of gall. Not unlike many in our culture today, this young man could not wait to get his hands on his father’s estate. He wanted his inheritance early.
When we follow the story line in our text we see there is a string of things that made for the son’s downfall.
A. He disrespected his father by essentially wishing him dead.
“Give me my share…” Luke 15:12
The incivility of our own culture toward the elderly is evident in the way they are disrespected when their heirs are overly anxious to get their hands on the estate of their parents. I read a story recently of a woman whose mother had to go to a health care center. The daughter was the POA (Power of Attorney) so she seized the opportunity to sell her mother’s house and planned to use the sale of the house to finance the purchase of a newer and nicer home for herself.
The mother got better and was planning to return home but the daughter told her that she, as Power of Attorney, had put her home on the market and that she would either need to stay in the Health Care Center or come and live with her. Mom was not happy!