Luke 15: 11-32
“There’s no place like home”
“See him wasted on the sidewalk in his jacket and his jeans, wearin’ yesterday’s misfortunes like a smile. Once he had a future full of money, love and dreams. Which he spent like they was goin’ outa style. He’s a pilgrim and a preacher, and a problem when he’s stoned. He’s a walkin’contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction. He has tasted good and evil in your bedrooms and your bars, and he’s traded in tomorrow for today. Takin’every wrong direction on his lonely way back home”.
Words from the Pilgrim-A song by Kris Kristofferson that could apply to the prodigal son in today’s text. A man that seemingly had it all, a good life on the land, financial security and a loving family.
The word prodigal means to “live extravagant and wastefully” and indeed it seems the younger son was “A man that had a future full of money, love and dreams, but which he spent like they were going out of style”.
I’ve seen several times, particularly in farming where a son asks for his share of his inheritance so that he can be independent. But this young man, the prodigal son gave his father the greatest insult and hurt you could imagine. Not so much by his leaving home, but back in those times in him asking his father for his share of the inheritance, he was effectively wishing that he-the father was dead. This was like an act of treachery that could result in the son being in physical danger should the locals get hold of him.
Yet, his loving and generous father, much I would imagine to the disgust of locals and his family agrees to his request and once received, the son promptly sets off on a long journey to a distant land and begins to waste his fortune on wild living. When the money runs out, a severe famine hits the country and the son finds himself in dire circumstances. He takes a job feeding pigs, and as pigs were considered unclean in Jewish society, he has fallen to the lowest of the low, never mind that he is so destitute that he even longs to eat the food assigned to the pigs.
The young man is destitute and without friend, favor or future and if he still has any pride he would have surely felt those eyes looking, yet not looking as he picked up cigarette butts or asked for a few dollars out the front of the IGA while his soul burns with shame knowing that he has no one to blame but himself. The shame and guilt carried that can consume a person and alluringly, almost teasingly entice further self-destruction. This man is on the knife edge but in his desperation he remembers what once was and by the grace of God sees a ray of hope in life, that of returning home. But not as a son to the man he hurt and insulted, but to beg to be his servant.
The father who had been watching and waiting, seeing his bedraggled looking son walking towards him rushes out, stops his son in his tracks and before his son can get out his planned speech, receives him back with open arms of compassion. He is overjoyed by the return of his lost son! Immediately the father turns to his servants and asks them to prepare a giant feast in celebration.
Meanwhile, the older son is not one bit happy when he comes in from working the fields and discovers a party going on to celebrate his younger brother’s return. And dare I say could we not understand this as his brother having sought his share of the inheritance returns with nothing and is smothered in love by his father. Maybe thoughts of now he will get another slice of the inheritance pie came to mind. But the father tries to dissuade the older brother from his jealous rage explaining, “You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” And we are left at the end of the parable to wonder the outcome of the older brother.
One prodigal son has returned, one is still on his journey.
In our busy lives we walk past people. Stressed we have arguments and disagreements. Wronged we seek justice and when unloved we become unloving until that moment when it’s too late. To when if only we could have that one more moment where we could take that loved one in our hand and hold them once more. Not to forgive them because that’s not even a thought, but just to have them home again and be with them is enough. Even though we are sinners, we know that love. That love though which is miniscule and judgmental in comparison to God the Fathers who gave his own Son for you, that you may with him like the son returned home-so it is too you.
When the boy came home, he had everything he threw away restored by the good grace of the Father.
1. The Robe – His Purity – Here stands the son in the rags of his sins. He doesn’t look like a child of this father. But, the father orders the best of his robes to be brought and to be put on the son. This robe would cover all the stains and dirt of the pig pen. This robe would make him look like the father. Imagine a servant walking up, who had net been there when the son returned home and seeing this boy from behind in the father’s robe. He would naturally mistake him for the father! This robe served to erase all the visible signs of this boy’s sinful past. When a sinner comes home, they also receive a robe from the heavenly Father. This righteousness is not the righteousness of good works or of human goodness. No, this is the very righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to those who receive Him by faith. When we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, all the pain and the stain of our past is forever washed away! All the dirt and the filth of a life of sin is forever washed away from us!
2. The Ring – His Privileges – After the robe came the ring. The ring was a symbol of son ship and authority. The one with the ring could speak for the Father! The one with the ring had access to all that belonged to the father! The one with the father’s ring was in a position of great privilege! When old, lost sinners repent of their sins and come home to the Father, they are given the great privilege of being recognized as His sons, 1 John 3:1-2. They are given the privilege of speaking for the Father, Act 1:8. They are allowed access to all that belongs to the Father as well, Rom. 8:17, Psa. 24:1; Psa. 50:10. When we come to the Father, He opens the storehouses of His grace and gives us everything He has!
3. The Shoes – His Position – The father calls for shoes to be brought for the feet of his son. Only the slaves went barefoot, sons wore shoes! This boy returned home desiring to be just a mere hired servant, but the father is determined to recognize his position as a son! In the boy’s eyes, he didn’t even deserve to be a slave, but even lower, even a hired servant. The father, however, looked at him and said, “This is my son!” The father alone determines the position and worth of his children! Saved by grace, you became a child of God! He no longer sees you as a slave or as a sinner, but he sees you as His darling child, whom He loves like He loves His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ! We are right to humble ourselves in His presence, but let’s never forget that if we are saved by grace, that it is the Father Who determines our standing in the family and not we ourselves! What I am saying is this: Don’t let the devil or the flesh keep you down by telling you that you are not worthy to be a child of God. In Christ you are truly saved, you have been accepted by the Father in Heaven and He has called you His child!
C. V. 23-24 He Found Rejoicing – Ill. The fatted calf was kept for special occasions. The fatted calf was the Father’s way of sharing His joy with all around. Instead of a wasted life, the father was celebrating a life redeemed and restored! So it is when a sinner returns home to God tb he Father! There is rejoicing in Heaven. There is rejoicing in the House of God. And, there is rejoicing in the heart of the redeemed sinner!
All that have walked this earth apart from Jesus have sinned. Yet all those that once walked this earth in faith in Jesus now truly know his love in its fullness. For us that still remain, who still sin and make mistakes Jesus says come to me for I will give you rest and bring you my father’s love, for as I spread my arms on the cross in bearing your sins, my father’s arms are still spread in love waiting for those still wandering.
I have sinned and no doubt will sin again as will we all. Yet Christ walks with us that we know of God the Fathers love. His love that has no boundaries. His love that asks us not to be saints but makes us saints. His love today that comes to us in Christ Jesus who looks at us with loving and understanding eyes and says “I know how tough it is-so come to me and rest. I gave my life for you-that you may live in peace. I love you now, as you are-know that peace because I have restored you for in me you are that younger son, and what I did for him I do to you.
Brother and sisters in Christ, you are sons and daughters of God. You have been restored. Let it fill your hearts with peace and pray for those still on their lonely way home.