Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Greatest Story Ever Told (Part 3)

SERMON               GMT15-037

SERIES:              Topical Messages:  God: His Love For Sinners

SETTING:          North Kelso Baptist Church

SERVICE:          Sunday AM (November 29th, 2015)

SUBTITLE:        The Greatest Story Ever Told: The Parable of the Loving Father

SCRIPTURE:     Luke 15:17-32 (Part 3)

SUBJECT:          God loves sinners

SUMMARY:       The proof of the Father’s love is demonstrated by the father’s acquiescence to the son’s request, in the reception by the father when the son returned to repent, when the father restored the son to an exalted position, and in the face of the younger son’s reaction.

SCHEME:           To provide evidence, or proof of God’s love for sinners

Our theme is:  God loves sinners


Interrogatory Sentence:  How does God prove that he loves sinners who repent?

Transitional Sentence:  The passage before provides seven (7) proofs that demonstrates that God loves sinners who repent:

·        Is seen in the request
·        Is seen in the response
·        Is seen in the rebellion
·        Is seen in the result
·        Is seen in the repentance
·        Is seen in the rejoicing
·        Is seen in the reaction

[The Title of the Message]
The Greatest Story Ever Told: The Parable of the Loving Father (Part 3)

[Announce the Text]
Please open your Bibles to Luke 15:11-32

Re-announce and read the text
Let’s now read Luke 15:11-32

Prayer for illumination & understanding
Heavenly and Gracious Father, we, your children know that in you are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Through your HS open our eyes that we may see the wonders of your Word; and give us grace that we may clearly understand and freely choose the way of your wisdom; through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

[Sermon Introduction]
Sir John Simpson, the Scotch surgeon, was once approached by a young man who asked him what he regarded as his greatest discovery. The simple reply of this eminent scientist was, "My greatest discovery is that I am a sinner, and that Jesus is a great Savior."

This generation seems to have lost the true sense of sin. Indeed, many individuals say there is no such thing as sin. Others admit the reality of it, but confine it to those acts which are commonly regarded as disgraceful and heinous. By this reasoning they confine sin to a small group.—William James Robinson, D.D., in Gospel Herald.

Do You Ever Feel the Burden?

As an Indian evangelist was preaching, a flippant youth interrupted him. "You tell me about the burden of sin. I feel none. How heavy is it? Eighty pounds? Ten pounds?" The preacher answered: "Tell me, if you laid four hundred pounds' weight on a corpse, would it feel the load?" "No, because it is dead," replied the youth. The preacher said: "That spirit, too, is dead which feels no load of sin."—The King's Business.

I propose to you that in order to be forgiven and redeemed from our folly and sin we must be thoroughly convicted of our sin by the HS. It is the weight of our sin that brings recognition of our sin and a realization of our need to repent in order to obtain relief and forgiveness.

At times it is easy to feel bad about our sin, to be afraid of the consequences of our sin, and even to be repulsed by our sin. But those are not the marks of conviction. The true mark of conviction is seen in our passage today. The true mark of repentance comes when during the times when God permits you to sin, He will often bring you to a place where you recognize your rebellion and with deep awareness that you have seen against God and heaven and draws you to repentance and to himself. Why, because God loves repentant sinners.

Again, this morning I want to share with you the proof that God loves sinners who repent. We do not have to be afraid of God even though we may have sinned, and even sinned egregiously against God. God takes pleasure and rejoices when sinners repent.

And so, I intend to continue this morning proving to you that God loves sinners who repent.

[Analytical Question]
I ask you again, what proof do we have that God loves sinners who repent? Our passage provides seven (7) proofs that God loves sinners who repent. You will see this proof in the request, in the response, in the rebellion, in the result, in the repentance, in the rejoicing, and in the reaction spoken of in this parable.

[Before we start our third point, let’s take a minute and…]

Last week ago we continued to examine the proof that God’s loves sinners who repent by taking a look at…

3A     The Rebellion by the Son (vss. 13-14a)

The younger son has rebelled against his father and his family. He has even rebelled against God by his actions and attitudes. It seems that he could not wait to get out of there. He packed up everything he wanted to take, filled up his money sack with his portion of the inheritance money, and he boogied on out of there.

“And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. (Vs. 13)
Going against God by violating or disobeying God’s character, God’s will, or God’s will, will always lead to a lifestyle that is opposed to God. The depth of one’s rebellion and the types of sin one falls into will vary from one person to the next. Not all will sin in such depraved and wanton ways. But take note, that all sin, any sin, is rebellion against God and develops a lifestyle that is opposed to God and His character.

[Secondly, we examined last week…]

4A     The Result of God’s Deliverance (14, 15-16)

          “…and he began to be in want.”

The word for “want” means “to suffer want” to be devoid of necessities, to lack what is needed. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods” — it wasn’t as if he wasn’t allowed to eat the carob-tree pods! He wished he could eat them, but he couldn’t, because he could not digest them. They were indigestible for a human being. God brought this boy to the lowest place he bring him to in order to deliver him.

Sometimes God’s deliverance starts with His chastisement towards our rebellion. The concept of chastisement carries with it the purpose of restoration. Chastisement is the process of disciplining rebellion until it ends and obedience is restored, such as a parent disciplining a child for its own good.

God will forgive our sin. Many times God may even deliver us from our sin and its consequences. What I mean is that much of the time the consequences of our sin is not permanent. But remember, just like this rebellious son who was assigned to feed pigs and was starving as a consequence of his rebellion, God intends for our forgiveness and deliverance by beginning with a miserable state, with a miserable solution, causing us a miserable struggle.


[Now that we are caught up, let’s move to the fifth (5) proof that God loves sinners that repent and that is found in…]

5A     The Repentance of the Son (vss. 17-20a)

          [The first thing that we see that led to his repentance was…]

          1B     His Realization (17a)             

[And first of all…]

                   1C     He realized his situation (17a)

“But when he came to himself…”

His incessant sinning and debauchery left him bankrupt and almost dead from hunger. He was finally able to see his situation. He saw what he had done and what he had become.

[The second thing that we see that led to his repentance was…]

                   2C     He realized his salvation (17b-19)
“…how many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger. I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of our hired servants.’”

Let’s stop for a minute and let me remind that at this time in Israel there is a hierarchy.

·        First there were wealthy land owners - They leased out their holdings.

·        Second there were tenant farmers – and they actually did the work of cultivating, caring for the crop, and the harvesting.

·        Third there were servants – they were considered part of the household. They were fed and clothed, housed, and cared for.

·        Fourth there were day laborers – they came to a village meeting place, like a union hall, and hired themselves out. They waited for someone to come along and hire them for the day. 

Day laborers would wait to be hired. Leviticus demanded that they be paid at the end of each day. An employer was forbidden from working them and then hanging onto their wages. These workers counted on that money at the end of the day for food. These hired servants barely eked out a living, and they rarely had what they needed. They were often poor and were the forerunner of the “will work for food” guys.

The son thought this, my dad’s hired servants, the low of the low, have more than what they need. You need to take note of what is happening. This rebellious son is beginning to trust in his father’s goodness, in his grace. He is beginning to see his father is a good man – he gives his servants more than enough. So I am going to trust that he will treat me at least as good as his hired servants and give me what I need.

God has brought him to this realization. He knew he sinned against God and against his father. He was sinful, disgraced, disenfranchised, and even apostate from his faith. Yet he remembered how good his father was and what he needed to do. He knew where hope was and where salvation could be found.

Before there is forgiveness and restoration to a right relationship there must be repentance. You must be brought to the awareness that you have done more than make a mistake, or to have simply “blown it,” or to blow it off as nothing. You must repent, which includes an awareness of your sin, a sorrow for your sin, and a verbal confession of your sin with no excuse or defense attached.

[Secondly, we see…]

          3C     He realized his solution (17b-19)

“And he arose and came to his father…”

                   Notices three distinct things that accompanied his repentance:

·        His full awareness that he had sinned against his father and against God – He was disgraced, disenfranchised, and degenerate

·        He desire to be back “in” but as a slave or servant – he knows he needs to make restitution. How do you payback 1/3 of a large estate on essentially minimum wage? But he must make restitution. Why? The Rabbis taught that there is no reconciliation w/o restitution.

·        His trust in the grace and compassion of his father. After all his father can:
o   Reject him and never speak to him again
o   Restrict him to remaining an outsider with limited contact
o   Rebuke him with either minimal or severe public beating
o   Receive him as a mere servant and no longer a family member

What will his father do? Well the return of the son leads us to the sixth proof that God loves sinners by seeing…] 

6A     The Rejoicing of the Father (Vss. 20b-24)

For the second time we are going to see something very unusual and very shocking. If you didn’t know a little bit about Jewish culture in the first century this might pass you by and you might not have ever noticed.

“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion…”

How did his father see him? His father had been looking for him. He may have been looking for him every day. His father was the seeker – not the son. The father sought his son. He probably came down to the gates of the village and looked over the vast desert for his wayward child.

Now, when the father finally sees his son, what should he have done? Well, at least by this first century culture?

·        The father should have gone back into his house. He should have let the son sit and stew for at least four (4) days. Should have made him wait & see.

·        The father should have disciplined the son. The son “deserved discipline.”

·        The father should have turned his son over to the Pharisees or the town’s people for discipline.

·        The father should have had him publically beaten

The father didn’t do any of these things. What did the father do? The father did at least three (3) things that were shocking and unexpected.

(The first shocking thing we see is that…]

          1B     The Father Raced to the Son (20d)

          “…and ran…”

This is more shocking than the dividing the estate before he was dead. Jewish nobleman at this time did not run. As a matter of fact there are bodies of literature on the fact than men did not run.

The men wore an inner garment and an outer garment, or a robe. If you had to do any work, you would lift up the robe and tuck it in your belt – this was to give you freedom of movement. The problem when you lifted up your robe the legs would show. That was a shocking disgrace.

If you pulled your robe up high enough and then ran hard enough, more than your legs would show.

Even priests were forbidden to lift their robes for fear of showing their legs. As a matter of fact a priest could not even lift his robe out of the blood of the sacrifice on the floor.

The Pharisees would have been beside themselves. They would be saying what is wrong with this father?

·        First, he can’t keep him in check at home

·        Second, he can’t count on his older son for help

·        Third, he had to divide his estate before he was dead

·        Fourth, he runs to this pig smelling, filthy, rebellious son

Let me ask you, why did the father run to his son in the first place? We really don’t know, but let me suggest three (3) possible reasons:

·        He loved his son and he missed him

·        He wanted his son to avoid the shame of walking through the village. He bore the sin, the shame, and the guilt of his son

·        He wanted to show his joy over his son’s repentance

[So, he ran to his son. The next shocking thing we see is that…] 

          2B     The Father Reconciled the Son (Vs 20d)

          “…and fell on his neck and kissed him.”

The Greek says the father kissed him about the head several times. He kissed him and kissed him and kissed him. This demonstrated the complete reconciliation of the father to his son.

He reestablished a relationship with his son that had been broken by rebellion and sin. As far as the father was concerned the son was forgiven and reconciled to his place in the family.

While the father is hugging and kissing the son, the son begins his carefully rehearsed speech. He begins by saying:“…Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight and am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
                   So far so good, right? He did leave out “make me like one of your hired

The practice of hugging his neck and kissing him shows complete reconciliation by the father. Pharisees must have been beside themselves. To them no Jewish father would ever behave this way, he would not greet his rebellions, disrespectful, disgusting, and sinful son in this way.

The son says a mouth full when he says, “…I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” In essence he is saying “I don’t deserve your love and respect, or my place in the family. I will pay my portion of the estate back.

But that is not God’s way is it? We cannot earn even a tiny spec of righteousness. We can’t earn God’s love and we cannot earn a place in God’s family. So the father interrupts the son and…

          3B     The Father Restored the Son (22)

“But the father said to his servants, bring out the best robe, and put it on him…”

                   1C     The Robe

What is that all about? Well, each family had a very special robe that they wore on very special occasions, such as engagements, marriages, circumcisions, feasts, and etc. Usually it was the father’s robe and he wore it at these special occasions. He also would pass it down to the oldest son.
He calls for the robe and then covers the son in his robe. He is covering this sinful son in the “righteousness” of his robe. He is imputing this righteousness or his standing to this son. This is just what God does. He covers us with the robe of the righteousness of Christ.

[Then the father calls for…]

2C     The Ring

“…and put a ring on his hand…”

This ring is not just bling, bling – it wasn’t just jewelry. The ring was used to press into wax and affix the family seal on important and legal documents. It was a symbol of authority. He was saying you are not a servant, nor just a son, you have a place of authority in this family.         

[Next the father calls for…”

                   3C     The Reeboks

          “…and sandals on his feet.”

The son was probably barefoot. Barefoot was emblematic of slaves and servants. The poor, slaves, hired men didn’t normally wear shoes.

But sons wore shoes. This symbolized the complete restoration of the son to the father by the father.
Shoes are very important to those who don’t have any. As a matter of fact there was a song that used to be sung during the time of slavery that talked about a day, “when all God’s chillum got shoes.” Shoes were a sign of freedom and equality. Slaved didn’t wear shoes, but sons did!

[Well, the father didn’t stop there did he? What did he do next? The father called for…] 

                   3C     The Roast

“And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry, for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry.”

Total rejoicing because of total repentance and total reconciliation! The fatted calf was a special animal that the family kept for special occasions. Usually it was for the wedding of the oldest son.

At this time, the Jews didn’t eat meat everyday unless it was fish. So this very special occasion called for the best beef.

Let’s stop here for a minute and ask a question. Why did the father say, “…my son was dead and is alive again?”

If the father followed protocol he would have had a funeral when the son left in such a manner. The son was dead to him as long as he lived in sin. But now, because the son returned and repented he was “resurrected from the dead.”

Abraham Lincoln was once asked how he was going to treat the rebellious southerners when they were finally defeated and returned back into the union. Lincoln said, “I will treat them as if they had never been away. 

The party has begun! The son has been clothed in the father’s best robe, a ring of authority has been placed on his finger, shoes have been placed on his feet showing full son ship and restoration, and the order had been given to kill the special calf, and the music has begun. Party is on! Dad is happy, happy, happy!

[And this leads us to the a further shocking and shameful event – we now see the seventh proof that God loves sinner who repent as we look at…]

7A     The Reaction of the older son (25-32)

[Notice first of all…]

          1B     The Arrival of the Older Son (25-27)

“Now the older son was in the field…”

Stop here for a minute. Now the Pharisees show up in the story. Remember, Jesus was telling this parable for the benefit of the Pharisees. This older son represents the Pharisees as hypocrites who stick close to the Temple but have no love for God, they have no real sense of their own sin, or the fact that they need to repent.

There are a lot of people who think they are “good Christians” but in reality they are not. 

Remember the Pharisees had been listening to this story. They have been shocked, surprised, and stupefied, in our vernacular, they had been blown away. They can’t believe how weak and even stupid this father had been so far. But now they show up and are shown for who they are.

1C     The Purpose

          “…his older son was in the field…”

He probably was not actually working the field. After all he is the older son. He is probably in the field to supervise the hired workers. He is here to make sure things go right.

                   2C     The Problem

The father did not consult the older brother about this celebration. By custom he should have. He should have assigned duties and sought input from the older son. We don’t know why the father did not do this. Maybe they didn’t have a very good relationship either.

[But this leads us to see…] 

          2B     The Anger of the Older Son (Vs. 25b-28a)

“…and as he came and drew near to the house he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound your father has killed the fatted calf. But he was angry and would not go in.”

                   This reaction, this anger, saddens the father and causes him to make…

          3B     The Appeal to the Older Son (Vss. 28b)

                   “Therefore, his father came out and pleaded with him.”

                   parakalew - ”to beg, to entreat, to beseech”

The compassionate plea of his father falls on deaf ears. This Pharisaical, hypocritical, self-righteous son will not listen nor will he go inside. As a matter of fact he complains and demands and explanation from his father.

          4B     The Answer of the Older Son (Vss. 29-31)

“So, he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I have never transgressed your commandment at any time…’”

                   [The first thing that we see is that…] 

                   1C     His answer disregards the point

He didn’t serve his father from loving service to his father, but he served as a grim duty that he had to bear. This shouldn’t surprise you, hypocrites are like that. He believed he never disobeyed his father. Pharisees believed that they had kept the law perfectly and that they should have God’s favor as a result. That is real deception.

                   2C     His answer discloses the problem

“…and yet you never gave me a young goat that I might make merry with my friends.”
He could not rejoice at the blessings of his brother. Hypocrites can never rejoice when others are blessed unless they get something also. Cause it is always about them.        

Here is another thing about Pharisees and hypocrites, they may not sin in the same fashion – they may not visit prostitutes or get drunk or blow the family fortune, but inwardly they want too. They have the same lusts and desires but many times are afraid to act on them. Look at what the older son says:

“But as soon as this son of yours – he wouldn’t even call him his brother – came who devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.”

How did the older brother know about the harlots? The confession of the son was probably overheard or even told to the servants. The servants told the older brother. Nevertheless, the older brother threw it in the face of his father because of his hypocritical anger. The older son was angry!

[This leads us to…]

          5B     The Availability of the Older Son, (VS. 31)

“And he said to him, ‘son you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.’”

By the way, the father used the Greek word for my boy, my child, a very tender endearing term. All that father had could be used by the son and was his when the father died. The older brother begrudged the love and compassion his father was showing his younger brother.

The Jews, particularly the Pharisees had access to the riches of God. They spent their lives with the scripture and the worship of God – but they never possessed any of the treasures enjoyed by repentant sinners. You can enjoy all that God has, you share in the inheritance of Christ, but without repentance you never get to enjoy it.

“”It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again and was lost and is found.”
[What do you say we wrap this up?]

That verse summarizes all three parables in this chapter. The father rejoiced over the repentance of his son. God rejoices and has great joy when one sinner repents and trusts in the grace and goodness of God through His Son Jesus Christ.

We have a real problem here don’t we? When you finish reading verse 32 aren’t you looking for verse 33?

·        What did the son say?
·        What did the son do?
·        Where is the ending to this story?

Do you think the older son saw his sin and repented? Do you think he put his arm around his father and said, ok dad, let’s go into the party and celebrate?

Let me tell you how I think this story ended. I think the older brother got further enraged, picked up a piece of wood or stone and bet his dad to death.

Just a little while later the Pharisees and the Jews will pick up a piece of wood and nail Jesus to it and kill him. The Pharisees and hypocritical Jews never repented. I don’t think, if this son represents the Pharisees repented. And the father who should have had both sons punished was put to death. 

Jesus came to Israel and they missed the point. He didn’t come to the Jews in the manner that suited their pride, their position, their program. Jesus came to the younger brother, the Samaritans, the Gentiles, the lame, the sick, the wicked and the profligate. They hated him for that. They killed him for that.

This is the longest and most detailed parable of them all. Unlike most parables it has more than one lesson or main idea.

·        The prodigal son is an example of true biblical repentance that leads to salvation. Anything less is just self-righteous efforts at sweeping sin out of the house in an attempt to make it more presentable and acceptable.

·        The older brother illustrates the wickedness of the Pharisees and the self-righteous. It shows the hatred and prejudice to those who do truly repent.

·        The father is a wonderful picture of God, who seeks the sinner, is eager to forgive, and longs for repentance.

Our theme is just like the theme in the other two (2) parables, God loves and rejoices when sinners repent. It brings great joy to God to forgive and restore repentant sinners.

Remember Jesus said in Luke 15:7, “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”

Let’s pray! J

1 comment:

nashvillecats2 said...

Sorry I am late in commenting:
As always I find your post most comforting and this one is no exception.
Thanks Gregg for "Up lift"