11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”
20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
25 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 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.’
28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore, his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 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.’
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads here today. This is a very familiar story that we all have heard and learned quite a few lessons from. A story of forgiveness, mercy, and love. This Father’s day… I want to look at what makes a great dad according to this story. The very first thing I noticed is that a great dad sets his kids free. The story begins with a horrible request – “give me the portion of goods that falls to me”. “give me my share of the estate”.
It is a slap in the father’s face, a rejection, a selfish demand. This son is not mature enough to wisely handle the responsibility and does a terrible job with it. the story says he, “wasted his possessions with prodigal living” In light of the result, we are tempted to blame the father for giving in to the request, we are tempted to criticize him. Until we remember that in the story Jesus is telling, the “Father” represents God. If we accept that representation, we have to see some wisdom in the Father’s decision, and I think it is this, he sets his son free, even to make mistakes. That is a hard thing for a parent, I’m sure I am not the only parent in here that is not afraid to see their children make mistakes, but I think it is a part of remembering that our children really are their own persons, able and responsible for making their own decisions, and that even though we do our very best to guide and to teach, there comes a time when we must set them free.
The second thing I notice is that a great dad never stops believing. Verse 20 says… “when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him”. That tells me he was watching, he was hoping, he was believing that the home of love that he had worked so hard to create would be powerful enough draw his son to return, as the Scripture says, “But when he came to himself”, and return home. For some of you, this might be tough, perhaps your relationship has been strained, and there is great distance between you and your child.
Don’t give up! Don’t stop believing! Your child can never go so far that they are out from underneath God’s care, and God’s love. Take responsibility for whatever part you played in the breakdown of that relationship and keep believing that it can be restored.
The rest of verse 20 says… “when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him”. This is packed with emotion. There is compassion, there is excitement and exuberance, and there is physical affection. There is compassion instead of condemnation and I think this comes because the father truly did set his son free. You see many fathers today would be full of pride if this was to happen. On a side note, the Bible gives a clear command on father’s when it comes to their relationship with their child.
6 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
And again on…
20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
“provoke or exasperate” To irritate, to frustrate intensely. To anger, to annoy, antagonize, to provoke.
You see, there are many ways that we…as parents or dads can provoke/exasperate our child.
Calling them names, your stupid, what were you thinking. Don’t you ever learn anything. Your good for nothing, your lazy. Here’s an innocent way that parents/dads can exasperate a child.
Many may not see it, but judge for yourselves if it’s true or not.
We can innocently exasperate/provoke a child, when we start comparing then to their siblings or another child.
Here’s some examples, again…judge for yourselves.
Why can’t you be more like your brother/sister!
Your brother/sister gets straight A’s, why can’t you get straight A’s!
Your brother/sister never gets into trouble, how did you end up this way!
Our neighbor’s kids help with the chores, why can’t you!
Does all this sound familiar! It also goes with your relatives, cousins, nephews, nieces and so on.
You get the picture. You see…we are not all created the same way. We have done quite a few baby dedications in this church. And one of the things mentioned is that, your child is a gift from God/ a loan, that needs to be taken care of.
Every child is created differently. And guess who is the Creator? GOD of course! By comparing child with another child, we have taken away their worth! Totally a different reaction from the father in our story. Anyway, back to our story…
The father did not harbor bitterness, he did not greet the son with harshness, even though the son comes back understanding that he had rejected his father and was “no longer worthy to be called (a) son”, the father responds with compassion. This father lives in the present, not nurturing the hurt of the past, but instead focusing on what is true today which was this… “for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
In this line, the compassion is together with excitement and exuberance. The father runs to meet the son. Now remember, the father does not yet know how the son is feeling – he could be coming back for more money, he could be coming back unrepentant, he could be coming back completely unchanged – the father doesn’t know yet.
All he knows is that his son is coming up the path. But he doesn’t wait, he doesn’t believe the worst, he runs to his child. Some of us fathers maybe need to do the same, show our kids how excited we are in them, show them our love, believe the best and run to meet them in their lives and their worlds.
This father shows his love with physical expression. He hugs, and kisses. Dads, our kids need this – they need positive, affirming touch. They need dads that will wrap their arms around them and gently demonstrate their love through positive and affirming touch. Yes, even when they are old enough to leave home!
The story continues with the father’s instructions to his servants… vs22-23, “22But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it and let us eat and be merry”.
The dad threw a party…how insane is that!!!
What I notice here is that a great dad gives his children the best. The son gives the start of his “prepared speech”, about how he is no longer worthy, and the father’s response is to yell to the servants, whom he instructs to go and get the very best for his son. The best robe, the ring, the sandals, the fattened calf. The massive, hold-nothing-back celebration. What an incredible picture of forgiveness! It is not reluctantly or grudgingly offered… it is a celebration! Instead of punishment and penalty and penance, there is exuberant forgiveness and joyful celebration.
Dads, (I’m in this too) here is a pointed question, do our children get our best? Now, in our affluent society I am not talking about material possessions here. Do they get our best efforts? Our best love? Our best time? Our best attention? Do they know that we are still excited about who they are, (the same excitement as when they were born) that we still celebrate them with joy and exuberance? A great dad, like the one in this story, gives his children his best.
A Great Dad Works For Family Unity. The last thing I notice about a great dad is this. A great dad works for family unity. In the last part of the story, we see the jealousy and selfishness of the older brother – the “good kid”, like I had mentioned earlier, It’s not fair to compare a child to another. Here we see a jealous son, who is so ripped off by the father’s welcome of the prodigal son, that he won’t even go in to join in the celebration. Notice what the father does…
28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore, his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ 31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 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.’
He didn’t just go out to the first prodigal – that father went out to the second prodigal as well – the prodigal who never actually left home, but whose heart was far from his father’s. And he “pleaded” with him – he talked and listened and tried to help the brother understand how important it was to celebrate. His actual words are significant… “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.” He reaffirms his love and dedication with this older son, and that “everything I have is yours”, you see, they were treated equally and then introduces his perspective on why they must celebrate. I’m sure it was a difficult confrontation, but through it we see the father working for family unity.
For those of you who are fathers, my prayer is that you would find something encouraging and something challenging in this story, that would help you to be the father that God desires you to be. (YES!!! I am included in this also)
It is hard work being a dad/parent. But…God in His sovereign power gave us children, that we can be called parents/dads. I Think in a way… God knew that we were up for the task. One thing I know for sure is that…if God gave us the gift of children, he knew that they would be well taken care of. After all, they are His!
Happy Fathers Day!!!
Pastor Richard Santos
Audio copies of previously delivered messages are now available in CD. Requests can be made on the 'Contacts' tab.
Video message is now available in YouTube as of Jan. 2020