Justin Tucker, LHBC Worship Pastor
20 So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father told his servants, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Then bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let’s celebrate with a feast, 24 because this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate.
And Heaven joins in with a glorious sound
And the great cloud of witnesses all gather ’round
Cause the ones that were lost are finally found
The Father is welcoming
This is our homecoming
I love the story of the Prodigal Son. It’s a story that gives us a picture of God’s love and desire to have a relationship with us. It’s a story of redemption and who doesn’t love a good redemption story? If you’ve never heard it, here’s a quick synopsis…
A man has two sons, the younger of the sons comes to him and asks for his inheritance early so he can live his own life while the older brother stays home and works the family farm. The father obliges the younger son and gives him his inheritance and the son squanders it all on living a hard and fast life. The younger son finds himself at rock bottom and he finds himself feeding pigs. He’s so hungry, he starts to think that the food that the pigs are eating looks good. This triggers the realization that he needs to return home and work for his father because his father’s servants eat better than he does. He returns home and even when he is a long way off, the father sees him and runs to him. He kisses him and calls for sandals to be put on his feet, a ring on his hand, and a cloak over his shoulders. As if that wasn’t enough, he throws a party for him and has some of the best brisket cooked up you could imagine. All the while, the older brother is working in the fields. He comes home and sees there is a party going on and he gets angry. With the same tenderness the father showed the younger son, he corrected the older brother. He reminds him that all he had would be his and then invites him to join in the celebration for his younger brother.
In this story we have two sons that have two very different relationships with their father. The younger son has a young arrogance about him. He asks for his inheritance early which, in that culture, said, “Dad, you may as well be dead to me.” The father obviously loved his son very much, the fact that he would meet that demand shows it. The son leaves and does his thing and returns defeated. In verse 20 of this passage we see that the father sees him “from a long way off,” this indicates that he habitually looked for the return of his son. When he sees him he runs to him, he embraces him, and he kisses him. I had never noticed it before but the son’s confession comes after the father’s kiss of reconciliation. The more we experience the love of God, the more our hearts break to have sinned against Him. The father betows on his son the best robe (honor), a ring (authority), and sandals (his freedom). Then he prepared a banquet for him. The son was dead and lost to the father and now he had a new life and was found. He came back willing to be a servant and was embraced as a son. That’s what the grace of God looks like in our lives. We were lost, now we are found. We were dead, now we have a new life. We come to the Father in humility and He calls us His sons and daughters. How awesome is that?
The relationship the older son had with the father is different. It is designed in the parable to mirror the mindset of the Pharisees. It is a mindset of entitlement and rights and not of relationship. The older son followed the rules. He stayed when his younger brother left but not because he loved his father, he stayed because working the fields would give him what he wanted. We find him at the end of the story angry and outside of the party. He started to play the comparison game. He pointed out that he had slaved away in the fields while his brother had squandered away his assets. He had allowed himself to become a slave to the law instead of a son to a father. He was full of self-righteousness and judgment. He felt that things were owed to him. In this moment, he wasn’t just judging his brother, he was judging his father as well. The father responded to the older son with the same compassion and tenderness that he had welcomed his younger son with though. He invited him to enter the banquet to celebrate his brother’s return. I wonder if he entered or if he allowed his self-righteousness to keep him from celebrating the joy of his father?
Which relationship do we have with our heavenly Father? Do we have a relationship with Him of humility and service and He calls us His children or do we have a relationship where we are slaves to other things and we miss out being sons and daughters? Don’t miss entering the banquet being given because you’re too busy trying to earn one. It doesn’t work like that. Jesus did the work on the cross so that we could be invited to the party. The party is in celebration of what He has done and the Father is waiting for us to enter in. Luke 15:7 says, I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who don’t need repentance.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Lord, thank you for your sacrifice through Jesus. Thank you for creating a way for us to be in relationship with You. Oh God, show us the places in our lives where we can fuel the fire of our faith. Help us to be people that live lives that are honoring to you and others. Teach us to long for time spent in Your Word and in Your presence. Father, pour out Your Spirit as draw nearer to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.