My Two Sons
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
Today…we will be looking at Luke 15. A very famous, familiar stories, parable if you will about, one who is lost! Luke 15, starts with the parable of the lost sheep. Then the parable of the lost coin. Then…the most familiar parable, “The Parable Of The Prodigal Son”. What does “Prodigal”, mean? It means, to be wasteful, reckless in spending, yielding abundantly, and so on. So…with that, you have the “wasteful son”.
The Parable Of The Prodigal Son is a very familiar story, simply because it deals with someone who is lost. There are three characters in this short parable, you have the Father, and two sons. Another famous interpretation of this parable is, The Fathers Love, compassion, and mercy. A father who didn’t hold a grudge against the wrong that was done towards Him.
So…this afternoon let us open up this parable look at the parts of the story, that may make you say… “I’m a prodigal son”, or (Child )
My hope is that you’ll be motivated as a result to use the parable as a tool for self-examination and self-assessment. Because the parables, like all of Jesus’ teachings, has a purpose. They are intended, not merely to deepen our understanding, but more importantly, to change our lives.
To transform our thoughts, attitudes, motives, and behavior. To enable us to know God, and direct us in living our lives honoring and pleasing Him.
I have one request as we continue with this message. And that is…that what you do know, and remember about this story, is that you keep an open mind, a soften heart on what God may say to you this afternoon.
The first two verses are full of meaning. "There was a man who had two sons," Jesus begins, and immediately we know that this story has something to do with relationships, between a father and his sons, between an older brother and a younger brother.
We know instinctively that they are going to make different choices in life, and that the story is going to examine those choices. I must admit, that for the longest time, I was only focused on the father, and the youngest son. Never really looked into the oldest sons’ story.
Jesus goes on by telling the story….
12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
I find it amazing that the father complied with this outrageous demand. He certainly was under no obligation to do so. It must have grieved him terribly, knowing that his son’s intention was to leave home, perhaps forever. It must have broken his heart, knowing the pain and sorrow his son would likely bring upon himself by his foolish choices.
But in spite of all that, he granted the request… Why? Because he knew that although he can force his son to stay, he could never force him to return his father’s love. Love can’t be compelled. It has to be freely given. And so his father gave him what he wanted and watched him go.
I can only imagine the scene. The father sad to see his son go, tears running down his face. The son so…happy and excited of his wealth, and freedom, probably didn’t even take the time to say goodbye, kiss his father goodbye…not even a thank you. Didn’t even look back to see his fathers face. He was gone!!! To him, he was free to do whatever he wanted. No more rules, just straight out…I am having the time of my life!!!
Now… under Old Testament law, the portion of the estate which would pass to each of the sons was defined by statute.The older ones always gets more. It wasn’t up to the father to determine how much they would receive, it was fixed by law. And so the younger son was legally correct in claiming that a percentage of his father’s wealth was coming to him eventually.
However, he had no right to demand that his father distribute his wealth prior to his death. Could you imagine that scene? Your sitting down with your dad, and your asking him for your inheritance…and he’s still alive!!! OUCH!!!
Most parents would be shocked and offended by such a proposal, and rightly so. I expect that the father in the parable was too. Why? Because it showed that the son valued his father’s "stuff" more than he valued his father. He loved his dad’s money more than he loved his dad. His father was a checkbook, a bank account, ATM.
He cared little for his father’s love, because it had no "cash value". His father was rich, and all he wanted was his money. He wanted it right there, right now!
What is next in the story?
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.
So… he got what he wanted and left. He wanted to get as far away from his father as possible, he wanted nothing to do with him. Perhaps there was conflict, or some tension between him and his father. Perhaps he was tired of living under someone else rules, and craved freedom and independence. Or maybe he just wanted to get off the farm and see the world. At any rate, as soon as he could get his things together, he left.
The son only wanted the benefits of sonship, without the obligations and responsibilities of a relationship with his father. Sadly…that is the worlds attitude towards our God. Many wants Gods blessings, but does not want God. They want to enjoy all the good things that come from God, but without God Himself.
Sure…they may show God some respect, here and there, by attending church, or things that involves the church. But that is as far as it goes. Just like the younger son, “he got what he wanted, and left”.
Sadly…let me say it again. Many want the benefits that God can give, but does not want God Himself. They want to be blessed, but does not want to submit with His authority, His rules. They don’t want God involved in their lives. Just like the young son. They want to run their own lives their own way, without any interference. And so spiritually, they put as much distance between themselves and God as possible.
Sometimes, I joke around with my wife. I tell her…especially when we’re out of town, at a restaurant, just about to order, I tell her… “I am going to order a bottle of wine”. Nobody knows me here, I’m not a pastor here….different area code, it doesn’t count.
“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. Then she just gives me that look! In her mind shes saying, in a loving, non offensive way…that is just dumb. ( Don’t want to use the “S” word ) Wherever I may be, I’m still a son…a child of God. Regardless of who’s around. God knows what I will be doing.
The younger son in this story made several errors. He thought that he was missing out by remaining with his father, that in order to live life to the fullest he had to leave his father’s household.
He could have just asked… dad, can I have some money? I want to see the world, explore. Dad out of his love for him would have given in to his request.
He thought that indulging his desires would bring freedom, when instead it only brought him into slavery. But the most foolish mistake he made was in valuing his father’s wealth and possessions more than his father’s love. And so he gave up something of very great worth and settled for something of relatively little worth. Do we make that same mistakes at times?
Let me ask you some questions… the younger son showed and received what he wanted. What do you want? What is your hearts desire? Why are you here today? Why are you a Christian? Do you really desire a relationship with your God?
Or are you a Christian mainly because you want the things that you expect to receive from God… a happy marriage, or material prosperity, or good health, or nice friends, or a pleasant life, free from tragedy and loss, and if you get those things, then you’ll be content, even if there’s little or no relationship with the Father, through Christ Jesus.
Many will say they want God, or even think that they want God, when what they really want isn’t God at all. They don’t want him, they just want what they can get out of him. But our attitude should be like that of Paul, who wrote…
8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.
The great reward of being a Christian, the great goal of the life of faith, isn’t merely to obtain good things from God. It’s to know God Himself, to experience His love, to live in relationship to him. Everything else, by comparison, is just "rubbish". ( Power point “Garbage”) Original translation of “garbage” on this verse… “dung, manure”
Are you truly seeking to know God? Is a relationship with Him…your hearts desire?
Are you giving thought to how you can grow spiritually? Are you spending time in prayer? Are you reading God’s Word?
These are all parts of your relationship with your Heavenly Father….your relationship with Jesus Christ.
Going back to our story…The Prodigal Son
For a while after the son left home, everything was great. Life was one big party. Wine, women, and song. Eat, drink, and be merry. But then reality hit. First, his money ran out, and along with it went his so-called friends. His party pals treated him the same way he had treated his father…as nothing more than a source of funds.
And just then, the economy tanked. Everyone was out of work. No one had anything to eat. The best job he could get was feeding pigs.
14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
Now…to give you a short Old Testament story, let me remind you. For a Jew, this was the ultimate low. To the Jews, pigs are considered unclean animals. Jews were forbidden to eat pigs. “No lechon for the Jews”. And now the younger son has become a caretaker for the thing that they detest. Homeless, hungry, he was eating what the pigs were eating. He just hit rock bottom!
How different this was… than what he had imagined when he left his father’s house! Where was his great "freedom" and "independence" now? And this is when, the parable tells us…
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
This is a picture of repentance. First, he admitted that he was in bad shape. He didn’t sugarcoat it, or try to make it sound better than it was. He was starving to death. Second, he recognized the cause of his problem, which was his own sin. He didn’t blame his friends, or the economy, or bad luck. Third, he acknowledged that he had no claim on his father. He no longer had any right to be called his father’s son. And so Fourth, he determined to seek grace.
Not justice… justice would keep him in the pigpen. But grace, undeserved favor, unmerited goodness. Only by Gods grace. And that’s just what you and I have to do.
When we find ourselves distant from God, we need to repent. We need to acknowledge our sin, we need to turn around and return to God. We need to confess our unworthiness, and seek his grace and forgiveness. The good news is that when we do this, when we turn to God in heartfelt repentance, he is absolutely certain to receive us.
Our God is not emotionless. He is not reserved. He is not made of stone. On the contrary, when we repent, he’s overjoyed! He’s filled with compassion and love. No matter what we’ve done, no matter how much we reek of sin, as soon as we turn to him, he runs to us and throws his arms around us and embraces us! He celebrates! He calls everyone over and throws a huge party! Why? Because he loves us with a boundless, limitless love, an extravagant love.
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Well, it would be great if the story ended there, but it doesn’t. Because now the elder brother enters the picture. He’s offended that his father is giving the prodigal son such a reception. He becomes angry… All this time, I thought the older brother was innocent, just an obedient son. Let us now look at his story, shall we…
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
“‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’’
Woah!!! Whats his problem? The problem is that the older son, at the end of the story, doesn’t love his father any more than the younger son did at the beginning. He has been toiling, and working, and following his father’s commands for years, but why? Out of love? No. Out of nothing more than duty and obligation.
He knew…that by working side by side with his father, helping with the family business, that he would have a bigger chunk of the inheritance.
Just like his brother, he also valued his father mainly for what he stood to gain from him, the only difference is that he was willing to follow the rules, and work and wait for it. This attitude made him self-righteous, bitter, resentful, and it all spills out here, in the story as he rebukes his father and accuses him of acting unjustly.
Again like the “youngest son”, he could have asked. “Dad we have all this stuff, can I have a party with my friends? You think the dad would say no!
The older brother views his relationship with his father…as that of a slave who deserves a reward for his hard work. That’s the way it is with people who are moral and religious, but whose religion isn’t motivated by love. They view all their devotion, and service, and sacrifice, and self-denial as works which ought to earn God’s favor, which ought to merit God’s approval and hence a reward.
They don’t repent, because they see no need of repentance. They don’t confess their unworthiness, because they see themselves as being worthy. They don’t seek grace or mercy, because they view themselves as deserving of blessing, rather than guilty of sin. And so when God blesses and welcomes others, whose sins are more notorious, they consider God to be unjust. They are blind to their own sin, to their lack of love to God, and to their lack of love for their neighbor.
This may be just a parable. A story told by Jesus…but it has a life changing value.
It showed a Fathers love, mercy, and grace. It showed the relationship of two brothers, each having a different attitude towards their father. Two different attitudes of the flesh.
Here’s another question. Which brother are you?
The truth is that we all exhibit characteristics of both the younger and older brother at times. But which are you most like? The prodigal, going your own way, giving God lip service but content to keep God at a distance? Seeking his benefits but neglecting to seek a relationship?
Or are you the older brother, outwardly obedient, faithful, serving in the Lord’s vineyards but inwardly resenting his demands, and bitter at his unjust treatment?
Keeping his commandments, but having no love for God and no love for his people?
Again…the fact is, at one point or another. We are those two brothers. It just really all depends on the situation. But we are like them just the same.
The good news is, that there is always room to improve. There is still time to change. Our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And he will not fail to change you and I from the inside out!
6 being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Continue with the Lords Supper:
Pastor Richard Santos
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