Message: ‘Grace shouts… You have a place to belong!’ pt.2 Text: Luke 15
Introduction: In late September Kathy and I visited our youngest daughter Becky and her family. While there, our granddaughter Riley showed us the new shoes her Mama and Dada bought her.
- PP: Red, glittery shoes.
While they looked very cute on her and she was so happy to show us her new shoes… I immediately felt a sharp pain in my chest as I realized the meaning behind the new shoes.
- Riley is too young to understand, but I saw it as a confirmation that Becky, Dairin and Riley would be staying put in their new home.
What I pictured was a scene from the end of the movie, The Wizard of Oz.
- Dorothy spends the majority of the movie trying to find her way home.
- Finally she learns that she had the ability to go home all the time.
- PP: All she had to do was click her ruby slippers 3 times and say ‘There’s no placed like home.’
- To me, seeing my granddaughter Riley in those red glitterly shoe, reaffirmed the truth that Kansas would be their forever home.
To add insult to injury, guess what Riley was dressed up as for Halloween? You got it,
PP: Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz!
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There’s no place like home!
- As much as I enjoyed getting away for vacation, I have to admit that when I’m resting comfortably in my own bed, I think ‘There’s no place like home’. How about you?
You see, home is where you belong.
- It’s the one place where you ‘fit,’
- where you’re almost always the most comfortable,
- where you, not I, where you can let your hair down, so to speak.
And a home is one of the greatest promises in the Bible. When we repent of our sin and place our faith in Jesus, we belong to Him…
- We belong to God!
- We are His treasured possession.
PP: For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 7:6)
In other words, we have a home with God.
PP: Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:23)
God… makes His home with us… let that sink in for a moment.
Everyone wants a place to belong, everyone longs for a place to call home. Especially those who are lost.
PP: Background: Luke 15 is a chapter of three parables. All three parables teach of something lost and then the great joy when that which is lost is found.
In the case of the third parable in Luke 15, there’s great joy when the lost find a place to belong, when the lost find their home, with God.
Some context: The Israelites in our text, were living under Roman rule.
- They were an occupied country, there were Roman soldiers everywhere and Roman politicians ruling over them.
They felt out of place even in their own land… they wanted a place that was theirs, that they could truly call home, a place where they knew they belonged…
- And, they were looking for someone to make that happen… God’s promised Messiah.
Jesus, all through His ministry on earth, was trying to show them that their ‘home’ the place they belonged was not a physical location… but a person… Jesus, that He was God’s promised Messiah, the King of God’s Kingdom.
- So that when they had Jesus, when they placed their faith in Jesus, they belonged to, they would have a home, in God’s kingdom.
Let’s see how the master Teacher Jesus, skillfully lays this out.
III. Luke 15: 11-32 Lost sons, loving father
- Luke 15:11-32 An overview
PP/5 Slides: Luke 15:11-32
And He said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’
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That’s a lot, I know. Don’t worry, we won’t be looking at all that this morning. But, since this is such a well known and beloved parable, I wanted us to get the big picture before we take a dip in the deep end of discipleship, by examining each of the three characters individually.
Today we’ll take a look at the younger son, next Sunday the elder son and the father, then draw come conclusions from chapter 15.
First, the parable speaks of two, lost sons
- The younger who’s lost in the pursuit of pleasure.
- The elder who’s lost in the pursuit of self-righteousness.
While one repented and found a forever home with God, we’re not told the other one did.
Second, This parable is really about a loving father who desires his lost children to repent and find their home with him. To that end, he speaks kindly, extends grace, to both sons, showing that with him they have a place to belong.
So… on to the parable.
- Luke 15:11-24 The younger son
PP: Luke 15:11-12
And He said, There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them.
Under Jewish law a father was not able to leave his inheritance anyway he liked. Here’s how it worked.
- You would divide the estate by the number of sons, with the eldest son getting a double portion. (Deuteronomy 21:17)
- In this case, there were two sons, so the elder would get 2/3’s and the younger 1/3 of their father’s estate.
It was also not unusual for the father to choose to divide his estate and give the inheritance to his sons, before his death. Some, like today, choose to retire early or are physically unable to continue managing the family business.
However, in this case, it was the younger son who outright demanded his share of his father’s estate.
In a cold, and heartless manner, the younger son was telling his father he couldn’t wait untill he died to get his money, he wanted it now.
- It shows his impulsivity, his utter selfishness
- He independence w/o any accountability or responsibility in the family.
- He doesn’t care how taking the money might harm the rest of the family.
- He’s tired of being under the control of his father.
- He looked out his bedroom window and thought how great life would be if he was anywhere but there.
- What he asked for showed total disrespect for his father.
By the way, since we’re not told he was married it’s fair to assume he was in his late teens…
- So parents, parents of older of teenagers, does this remotely sound familiar?
We’re not told why the father agreed to the younger sons demands, but we do know why, from the intent of the parable…
- It was to bring the younger son to repent of his sin; his pursuit of pleasure, and to seek his father’s forgiveness.
- It was to teach all those who are lost in the pursuit of… whatever… that when they repent, God will forgive and give them a home with Him.
But, apart from that, I just don’t like what the father did… We have a lot of parents today, even Christian parents, who do just that.
They keep funding their children’s sinful pursuits.
They know what they’ll do with the money or gifts, but they don’t care
- because they want to be their kid’s friend,
- they don’t want their kids to leave home,
- or any number of other reasons.
Listen and this is extremely important:
- This parable is NOT an example to teach us to give our children whatever they want whenever they ask us for it.
It’s about how God gives us free will to choose to sin, but also allows us to suffer the natural consequences of the poor choices we will inevitably make.
- It’s about God using that to draw us to Him, to repent, to see that w/o Him we will not survive, yet with Him, we’ll thrive and have a home with Him forever.
PP: Luke 15:13-16
Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.”
The younger son gathered all he had. His share of the inheritance would have included land, animals and other things owned by the father. He sold those things to get cash.
With his money bag full, he takes off to a far off country, to greener pastures.
It’s not long before he spends all his money on reckless living. Reckless living here literally means living w/o saving anything.
- Now that’s a lesson all by itself…
Reckless living is living in the now, not caring about the future. Not saving for the future. The result is… he’s flat broke.
- His stomach is starting to growl a lot.
- He’s sleeping outside on the park benches of his day.
- He’s developing an odor because he can’t wash his clothes, in fact he probably sold his extra clothes and only had the ones on his
back, and they stink!
- And I can assure you, all his friends were gone, as we’re told in verse 16 and no one gave him anything.
Well, it gets worse… while he’s broke, a famine comes to the land, so he takes a job working for a pig farmer.
We learned last Sunday that shepherds were at the bottom of the Jewish social ladder. Well, those who worked with pigs were the muck the social ladder was standing in.
- For a Jewish man, this was a defiling job.
But you say hey, he still had a job. Yes, but the pay was so low that this he wanted to eat what the pigs were eating.
You’ve heard the term used with addicts, ‘They’ve hit rock bottom.’ And that exactly where this young son is… rock bottom, only here it’s mud and whatever else the pigs contributed to the mud.
- The grass is not as green as the young man thought it would be away from his father’s home.
The story is often the same even today.
- We’re selfish, impulsive.
- We misuse what we have.
- We separate ourselves from what was once important to us, like family, the church.
- We make a lot of bad choices, and then we deal with the consequences of those choices.
Let’s look at who Jesus was talking about by using the young man as an example. He’s describing the life of the sinner, of the lost:
- squander/ waste the blessings that God, in His common grace, showers upon us.
- We care only about the immediate and not the future, the eternal future. We live for the now, for our sin.
- We’re spiritually bankrupt, we have nothing, we have no one, our righteousness is as filthy rags, like what the young man was wearing.
- We, in our sin, stink to God!
- And we’re separated from God by a great distance… as this young man was separated from his father by living in a far country.
BUT, but, adversity, desperate situations, often lead the lost, to God.
PP: Luke 15:17-20a
But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” And he arose and came to his father.
Jesus, in this text, shows us the nature of repentance, what it looks like.
- The big picture is turning away from your life of sin and turning to God.
- It’s realizing that what you call home is really a tomb, BUT, God offers life in a home where He is present.
That’s the big picture, here are the details so eloquently laid out for us in the parable.
There’s a knowledge that God cares and provides abundantly for those who are His.
- How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread
There’s a reflection upon our sinful life, that how w/o God we know we’ll perish.
- but I perish here with hunger!
There’s an intentional choice to seek God that results in action.
- I will arise and go to my father, And he arose and came to his father.
There’s an honest recognition and confession of our sin.
- Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.
There’s profound humility.
- I am no longer worthy to be called your son.
There’s a hint of faith
- Treat me as one of your hired servants.
Be sure to notice that repentance does not make deals or set conditions with God.
- Repentance recognizes that you have nothing to offer, nothing from which to bargain.
OK, lets pull ourselves out of the parable and look at Jesus’ audience.
- The people, including the religious leaders would have said ‘That’s what that horrible, brat-face young man should do. Go back to his father with his tail between his legs.
But, they would not have expected the father to do what he did. They would have been horrified over it. No respectable Jewish father would ever do what he did.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time here because I want to delve deeper when I look at the father character in the parable. So, I’ll just give the birds eye view by way of bullet points.
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While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion,
- The father was eagerly waiting the son to return.
- And when he saw him from a distance, his heart skipped a beat. Love, joy, rushed through his veins.
and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
- The fathers embrace and kiss showed affection and reconciliation.
- This must have removed any doubt the young man had that his father would forgive him.
And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.
Upon hearing his lost son repent, he immediately restored him.
- The robe was given to him to replace his filthy rags. It was probably the best robe in the house. It was a sign of status.
- The ring was a mark of authority. To give a ring to someone was a sign of favor.
- The shoes were a sign of freedom as servants often didn’t wear shoes. Since the young man was probably shoeless, his father didn’t want him to remain dressed like his servant when he was his son.
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.
- Doing what he did, the son would have been considered dead to the father.
- But, he has repented and is now alive.
And like the 2 previous parables of the lost sheep and coin that were found… The father says
And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. And they began to celebrate.
- There is great rejoicing over one sinner who was lost and is now found.
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Great story… but its truth is even more amazing!
- No matter how far you’ve gone from God.
- No matter how low you may have sunk into sin.
When you repent, God will forgive and welcome you into His home and give you a place to belong… forever!
What we see in this parable is that
- God doesn’t just call us to repent.
- He doesn’t just call us to believe.
- God calls us… to belong.
Remember the three parables in Luke 15 are in response to the Pharisee’s rebuke of Jesus eating with sinners. In all three parables the lost find a home, they have a place where they belong.
- Grace shouts… You have a place to belong!
ILL: On a cold night in England many years ago, a group of children slipped into a church to get warm. The preacher was speaking on Luke 15:2, which in the King James Version reads, “This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.”
Afterwards, one of the children, a girl of 8, went up to the pastor and said, “Pardon me, sir, but I didn’t know that my name was in the Bible.” He asked, “What is your name?” “Edith, sir.” “No,” he said, “Edith is not in the Bible.” “Yes, it is,” she replied. “I heard you say, ‘This man receiveth sinners, and Edith with them.’” (Steven Cole “Our Daily Bread.”)
That little girl understood what the pharisees didn’t. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost and to welcome them into His home, to give them a place to belong.
How about you?
- Do you know that you have a place to belong?
- Do you know that you have a forever home in heaven?
- Do you want one?
Talk to me about it!