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The Forgiving Father   Luke 15-11-32

Parable of The Lost Son may be the most well-known. It is a parable, a story used by Jesus to teach a spiritual truth, it is likely not a true story. It is a picture of our heavenly Father’s love. 

Three characters:

1st     The Prodigal or Lost Son       Prodigal means One who is wasteful=Us

2nd     The Father                              Our Forgiving Heavenly Father

3rd     The older son                         Pharisees and legalists of today

The Lost Son                 Luke 15:11-13

When young people first step out from under a parent’s control and all restriction are removed, many fall into the trap of freedom, they can fall victim to the enticement of sin found in this new freedom.  Adam and Eve fell for this trap.  It is that sinful nature inside each of us that rises up when we leave it unchecked.  We are all prodigals, wasting the gift God has given us, if we are given the chance.

Luke 15:14-16

·       Times turned hard, famine, when the money ran out so did his friends

·       Couldn’t find a good job-turned to feeding filthy pigs-he was a Jewish boy

·       Hungry-Carob pods-indigestible for humans-couldn’t eat what he feed pigs

·       Party friends were gone, no one would help-He even failed as a beggar

The freedom the young man had wanted was really sin.  Sin promises us a lot but I guarantee you that it will always leave us broken and lost.  Sin puts us in bondage that leads only to death. For so many of us, what we thought would help us “find ourselves” only caused us to become lost.

Luke 15:17-19 

·       He remember how his father treated his hired servants. 

·       His father was a generous man who took care of his servants. 

·       “What am I doing out here starving when I could go work for my father.” 

·       The young son who turned his back on his father would now turn back to him! 

·       It is called repentance.  

The younger son represents all of us who haven’t had a relationship with God.  Do you remember life before you knew Jesus?  Do you remember the moment when you turned away from the world and turned back to God?  When all of a sudden the enticements of the world lost their attraction.  That moment when you asked God to forgive you?  In many ways we were the enemy of God until that moment when in our helplessness we cry out to the only one who can save us.  But God doesn’t see us as enemies.  He sees His children.  And He loves His children.

Romans 5:10 

Have you ever felt like you had wandered to far from God?

·       Remember God’s power to forgive is greater than you power to sin.

·       Jesus cried out from the cross, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!” Luke 23:34   

·       He forgave one of the men crucified with Him. 

If Jesus can forgive the ones who nailed Him to the cross, I think He can forgive the ones whose sins put Him there.  That was His mission and purpose, to save those of this world who would put their hope and trust in Him.

The Loving Father   Luke 15:20-21

·       The father continued to look for his son after he left

·       When he saw the son he ran to him, undignified but his joy as overwhelming

God, our Father, does this every time a sinner repents, turning away from their sin and back to God.  The Lord rejoices when His children turn around and run back to Him. 

·       The son was quick to confess to his father his sin.  We must do the same. 

1 John 1:9

Turning back to God while confessing our transgressions give us a righteousness, an ability to be reunited with God that we can never do on our own. 

That is what we see in  Luke 15:22-24.

Upon repentance God lavishes gifts on his children.  He give us the best robe.

 Galatians 3:26-27   

 We have laid aside our dirty garments of sin and by faith received the robes of righteousness in Christ Jesus.

The Father gives us a ring, symbol of authority, like Pharaoh to Jacob

Genesis 41:24

The father was overjoyed to have him home, he was totally disregarding the law found in Dt 21:18-21 which allows the parents of a rebellious son to have him stoned to death.  Instead He was rejoicing.   

Our heavenly Father, is thrilled to lavish His mercy and grace on us to spare the punishment and to give us what we could never earn for ourselves, eternal life.  It is by God’s grace, His undeserved love and kindness that we are restored to Him.

Ephesians 2:4-5 

We are made alive again by God’s love, mercy, and grace which allows us to come back home even after a lifetime as a prodigal.

Did you notice that the father never even gave his son the chance to give his whole speech about treating him like a servant?  When God offers us His forgiveness we are completely forgiven.  We are restored to our full position as a child of God, not a servant.

The unforgiving Son    Luke 15:25-27

How would you react to your brother’s return?  

Overjoyed like your father or would you feel something else?

Luke 15:28-30

·       The self-righteous get angry with God’s compassion

·       Remember Jonah, when God causes all of the Ninevites to repent?     Jonah 4:1  

·       Jonah was angered by God compassion

·       The older son is angry about the father’s compassion for his brother.

·       Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttering Jesus was spending time with sinners. 

·       Attitude that sinners should be excluded because of their sinful life style.

Not remembering that Jesus was not looking at the outside of people but the inside.  They didn’t think these sinners deserved a chance for salvation.  Yet in reality they were blind to their own sin.  This group of men thought of themselves so highly, puffing themselves up and lording themselves over the very ones that God had called them to serve and care for.

·       Older son was faithful in his service to his father, but his heart was not in it.

·       He was not working for his father not out of love but out of duty.

Scripture says that it is by grace you are saved, through faith, not by works so no one can boast.  The Pharisees spent years learning and memorizing the scriptures but they never really learned what God was all about.  They knew His words and law but failed to see and understand His love.

·       Jesus said two greatest commandments were to love God and love others.

·       His anger at his brother will not even let him acknowledge him as a brother, instead he calls him, “this son of yours.” 

·       There is no forgiveness in his heart. 

That will be a terrible day for us if we choose to live our Christian lives this way.  In fact, if we do I don’t think we can call it a Christian life.  Just as Jesus lived on this earth to glorify His Father and to save us through his love, we must find a way to imitate Him and do the same. 

Pastor Warren Weirsbe writes, “If we are out of fellowship with God, we cannot be in fellowship with our brothers and sisters, and conversely, if we harbor an unforgiving attitude towards others, we cannot be in communion with God.” 

1 John 4:19-21   

Do we still have Pharisees today?  Yes we do.  Who are they, well in this example they are the “Legalist”.  They are the ones that are quick to point some ones sin, condemning them for it rather than helping them overcome it.  They fail to show love, mercy, and grace like God does to those in need.

Luke 15:31-32

The parable ends with our Father’s reminder that he is always with us, He has given us everything including the power to change this world. 

We are to celebrate when someone turns to God and receives salvation or when a brother or sister turns away from their sin and comes back into full fellowship.  God’s forgiveness extends to all of us, there is no requirement to do anything to win back his love and to receive His grace.  Simply turning back to God and placing your hope and trust in Jesus death on the cross and resurrection from the dead is all we have to do.