Contend Earnestly: Prodigal Son: Part II

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Prodigal Son: Part II

Because my notes were so extensive for this second part of the chapel service...I am going to break it up into two posts. Again, this is pretty close to what I actually said during the sermon, but some things I have left out in these posts because it would have little affect on the readers, compared to when I was speaking to the students at Rainier Christian. The first post is here for you to read.

The Son’s Misplaced Trust

We left off on the last post when the son started to form his repentance speech he was going to give his father. Here is what he came up with:

“Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight;
I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”

What’s wrong with this statement?

The first part is correct…he has sinned against heaven, he has sinned against the father and he is no longer worthy to be called his father’s son. But then look at the last part. He wants to pay back his father by being a hired man.

The son is missing the point of being forgiven and accepted by his father and is actually downplaying his sin at this point. He thinks he could actually pay him back.

Remember. He has wished his father dead. He not only took his father’s property, but remember what word was used for his father’s property that he took? Bios, or life.

He also made his father, who was very wealthy and well known in the area, lose respect and honor, which was huge in the time of Christ.

So, by saying, “I’ll just be a hired servant and pay my dad back” he was really downplaying what he did to his father.

Let me give you an example.

What if Bill Gates showed up to your house and said to you:

I am going to buy you and your family a mansion, any car each of you want, and when you get out of high school I will pay for whatever school you want to go to and make sure you get the best available job in your field of study.

Pretty cool, yes?

You think about it and you say, “yes, that would be cool…” and then you handed him a dollar. He asks, “what is this for?”

You respond by saying, “I just wanted to pay you back for doing all this for me”

Have you now cheapened the gift given? Very much so. And you sound ridiculous.

This is exactly what the son will be doing if he asks his father to become his hired servant. He is going to not only sound ridiculous, but he will cheapen the grace and mercy that is supplied to him by his father.

We will come back to this understanding as we seek to find how the father and the elder brother responded.

The Forgiving Father

“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Honestly, this part of Scripture is more shocking than we realize. The Son gets up and makes his journey towards his father. The whole way, rehearsing what he’ll say, how his father might respond and what will happen if he is rejected..knowing he will probably be rejected.

Think of this…how nervous would you be making this journey back to your father?

What reaction do you think he was expecting?

So, as he is making his journey he comes over the horizon where the Father sees him and what happens?

The father had been wished dead, socially embarrassed, physically stolen from and spiritually his life was torn apart.

Also, in this period the inferior always ran or came to the superior…this wealthy nobleman would never go to anyone in this village, much less a person who wanted him dead to take his money.

Yet, it says that while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, ran and embraced and kissed him.

Notice…has the son said anything yet?

Just seeing His son, it says the father felt compassion for him. This term means to literally be moved from the deepest part of the soul.

This is where we start to see the gospel very clearly. Remember…who is telling us this parable?

It is Jesus…Jesus uses this term compassion when speaking of the Prodigal. Who is the Prodigal in this story so far? Us…and the crowd listening, more specifically the sinners.

It is said that the term compassion is used more for Christ than any other emotion. Jesus is trying to show the connection between himself and the Father at this point. He is trying to say that he loves these people and he desires their salvation. He desires the salvation of the most crude people of the day, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the cheats, the sick, the lame, the pedophiles, the wife beaters, the whores, the drug dealers and the zealots.

The father not only feels compassion but he runs to the boy. Now, in the days of Christ, noblemen didn’t run. The reason is because all they wore was this kind of robe, with an undergarment that was long and went all the way down close to the ankles…so to run, they had to pick up the garment pretty high and would be in danger of showing off parts of themselves that shouldn’t be shown.

But this father, so overcome with joy, doesn’t care that he is a nobleman, doesn’t care about the disgrace of running, doesn't care about what the village would think of him…his only care is to seek out his boy whom he sees.

Notice that as he approaches his son, he embraces him and kisses him.

Think of this. Does the father know whether or not the son will accept him or reject him? I mean…couldn’t the son be there to merely ask for more money?

The father shows that he has fully forgiven the son before the son ever even asks for it.

Think of Christ at this moment as he is speaking this. You see like the father, Christ came from his home to us. He ran to us, he joyfully came to live among us…but unlike the father he wasn’t welcomed, he was rejected, he was crucified on the cross.

You see we know the story, so we forget that the father does all this without knowing whether or not the son will accept him. But, Jesus, does all these things for us, knowing he will be rejected and despised and it still states this:

and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2

The son, not knowing how he would be welcomed, must be overcome at this point. But notice he still follows through with most of what he is ready to state:

‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

He gets most of it out, but what happens? Does he even get to the point about paying back his father? Because of the repentance of the Son, what now happens?

From before we see that the Father has forgiven him, but now we see the son receives three things:

“But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet;

The robe is given to those who are a welcomed and honored guest. This robe will cover the filth of the son who was living with pigs.

I will rejoice greatly in the LORD,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
Isaiah 61:10

Like the Father, Christ has clothed us with righteousness, so that our filth is seen no more.

He is also given a ring, which for the family, gave the son authority and allowed the son to make business transactions on behalf of the family. He has been given back an inheritance that he squandered.

By doing this, it will cost his father much. But if he doesn’t, there will be no redemption for the son and he will never truly be called a son to the family. It costs his dad to do this because part of his bios, his life, was taken when the son left with his inheritance. So, the father’s life is being taken for the son to be redeemed.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

Christ, like the father, gave up his literal life, to save and redeem us.

Not only did he receive a robe and the family ring, but he received sandals. Servants didn’t wear sandals, only those a part of family did. This shows the full acceptance that the son is fully restored. He is truly a son. Not a servant.

So, think of this. We have the fullness of the gospel. A sinner completely separated from his father, sins willfully, squanders everything, lives how he wants to, but desires to be restored. He goes to the father and the father, instead of holding anything against him, runs to him, hears his repentance and fully restores the son as part of the family. Notice that the son has done nothing besides repent.

Because of the sacrifice that the father has made, the son can be restored.

Remember the speech that the son had prepared for his father? Was he able to even finish it?

No, and notice that the part that was left out because of the father’s joy to fully restore his son, was the part where the son wanted to repay his debt. By not allowing this to happen, the father is saying, there is nothing to repay, because I have paid it for you.

Such a clear example of our Christ. The gospel speaks to us and doesn’t ask, “what have you done for Christ,” the gospel cries out and says, “Look at what Christ has done for you!”

Martin Lloyd Jones, a famous pastor who has now gone off to be with God used to ask, “Right now, are you a son of God?” He said many people would respond by saying, “I’m trying”

He then told them, “You don’t know what it means to be a son, because you want to be a hired servant”

As if this wasn’t enough, the father continues and says:

and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;
for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

So, not only has the son been fully restored as a son, the father doesn’t stop…he throws a full out bash for the whole town. Imagine the great joy that is happening in the father’s house. This is probably the best day in the Father’s life.

For all he knew, he would never see his son again. His son could have been merely coming back for money and leaving again. But no, his son has repented and come back home. He wasn’t physically dead, but was completely separated from his father and his home, he was spiritually dead, but he has returned.

When you were dead in your transgressions…He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,
Colossians 2:13

To show how joyous he is, he kills the fatted calf. Now to understand how crazy this is, know that they hardly ever ate meat back then and probably had never had such a celebration. The whole town would be invited to share in this amazing celebration of joy. This would be like your parents renting out the most expensive restaurant in Seattle and inviting all your neighbors and friends to join you…it was a huge bash.

This is why Christ says that there is much joy in heaven over even one sinner that repents.
In the next post, we'll see what happens after it is seemingly a story that will end with a huge celebration and much joy over the restoration of not only a son, but the fabric of the whole family. Just as all seems joyous and back to "normal", enter the vengeful, elder brother.


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