SCRIPTURE: Luke 15:20-24
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
Today, we come back to the heart of Luke 15 and to the heart of the FATHER. Jesus told this story because the Jews had a twisted view of God. Jesus is trying to convey a truth that the Pharisees and Scribes don’t understand: God is a loving God full of compassion, just like this father WHO OVERWHELMED HIS SON WITH GIFTS OF GRACE.
Today I want to jump right into the message with no introduction
I. I WANT TO CALL YOUR ATTENTION TO THE GIVER OF THE GIFTS
- Yes God the heavenly Father is Holy and He cannot be touched or tempted by sin. Sin must be dealt with. We can’t sweep it under a rug.
- But He is also good, good to all [this father was good to both sons].
- He is filled with love and compassion. He takes no delight in the death of the wicked. He gets no kick out of the condemnation of a sinner.
- He longs to forgive, He anxiously awaits our repentance.
- His heaven rejoices over the repentance of ONE sinner and today, that could be you!
- He is Gracious and Good, the giver of all good things. We are never more like Him than when we are giving.
- There is no celebration is heaven today over our good deeds: heaven celebrates when we repent. The Pharisees never brought any joy to Jesus.
II. SECONDLY: THE GIFTS
- The RECEPTION…the hug, kiss, the affection and forgiveness
- The ROBE…the robe was the best garment in the house, reserved for special guest and dignitaries. Thus the Father is treating his son like a king.
- The RING…the ring is a signet ring. It is both a symbol of authority and status. The signet ring was the equivalent to a CREDIT CARD. It had the family crest on it and could be used to purchase property or to consummate a business transaction. It was a big deal.
- The SANDALS…Slaves did not wear shoes. This practice is not that ancient. There is an old black spiritual called, “All God’s Children Got Shoes.” You might say the shoes were a symbol of freedom.
- The PARTY…The fated calf was reserved for a special occasion. Again, the Father is treating the son as though he had never sinned.
III. THIRDLY: THE GRACE BEHIND THE GIFTS
- The thing that stunned the Pharisees who are listening to the story is that justice is not served: the boy deserved a beating, not a party.
- Why would the Father give lavish gifts to a man who was so undeserving?
Understand today: that the Father is this story is our Heavenly Father. When the prodigal came home, he came rehearsing a speech but he never got to finish his speech because his father interrupted him and started giving him gift after gift and not a single gift was deserved. Everything was GRACE. Before the boy can finish his confession, bang, bang, bang, the Father is giving him gifts. The kid had to be OVERWHELMED. He got run over by a truck load of GRACE. He had to be stunned by His father’s kindness. This was not what the boy expected: gift after gift–grace upon grace. I know how the boy feels. TODAY I AM OVERWHELMED BY GOD’S GRACE. I am stunned by HIS INFINITE GOODNESS.
I am telling you today, if you will come to the FATHER, the way the younger son came to his father, humble, broken and repentant, confessing your sin…You too will be overwhelmed by His grace. NOTE: the prodigal did not return blaming his older brother or his father but himself.
I read this story many years ago and cannot remember the reference but a woman of renown and prestige decided to join a local church in her city. She thought it would be good for her reputation and her business interest. When she came for membership [during the invitation] she told the pastor, “I want to join this church.” He said, “That is good but first you need assurance of your salvation: have you been saved?” The woman didn’t understand so the pastor said, “Have you repented of your sins and trusted Christ for forgiveness?” This offended the dear lady. “I have no sins to repent of,” she said. The pastor shocked her with these words, “Then, madam, you may as well return to your seat because I cannot help you.” Angry, hurt and embarrassed, she returned to her seat but she was not happy with the outcome. The more she thought about it the more angry she became. So she marched down the aisle for a second time but this time demanding that the pastor present her for membership. Again, he refused and sent her back to her seat. Then a miracle of grace happened, her anger turned to sorrow. The Spirit of God convicted her and she began to weep. She walked the aisle for the third time but this time she told the pastor, “I am a sinner. God has convicted me and I want to repent.” The pastor smiled and said, “Now, I can help you.”
There is nothing anyone can do to help an unrepentant sinner other than pray for them.