Filling the House: Sheep, Silver, and Sons: The Heart Wrenching Truth of a Son Left Lost

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Sermon Notes

Filling the House: Sheep, Silver, and Sons
The Heart-wrenching Truth of a Son Left Lost
Full Scripture: Luke 15:11-32
Text Scripture: Luke 15:25-32
25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
During the past few Sunday mornings we have explored God’s desire to have His house of forgiveness, love, joy, and grace filled with people. The message of forgiveness and reception is preached to all people but only repentant people are allowed to enter and attend the Father’s grand celebration. The first two parables in Luke 15 express the recovery of sheep and silver along with the rejoicing that accompanies the completion of the rescue mission. These two parables are great carriers of heavenly truth, yet another story is needed to add humanity and divine grace that can only be communicated through family. Today we will explore this climatic parable filled with true grace, forgiveness, acceptance, restoration and joy and in the end, a heart-wrenching truth of a son left lost.
Jesus again turns the page of His storytelling to engage both audiences in a more direct way. Pass the field with the happy shepherd; go beyond the house with the woman and friends celebrating the found silver coin, and onto a large estate owned by a father who has two sons. The story Jesus brings His audience into is far from a pleasant one. The place, at first, sounds nice to American ears. A father, two sons, servants, and a large estate sounds Disney-like; however, unhappiness exists in the hearts of both sons. Relationships are shattered; greed, lust, and competition abound. The family splits as soon as the story opens.
The Hearts in the Matter
As the story opens, three people appear: the father and his two sons. The younger son appears as the “disrespectful daddy hater.” He asks for his inheritance and leaves home to live a wild, sinful life. While the younger son is away the older son stays home doing all the father asks, playing the part of the “good” son. Meanwhile the younger son is in a far country going broke. His choices are catching up with him and maturing him at the same time. The job he obtains in order to survive is
not filling. He makes the decision to go home. What unfolds next reveals the true nature of each main character. Follow me in your Bible as the events unfold.
I. The Arrival of the Younger Son (17-20a)
a) What happened in the far country? The far country was a hard experience for the younger son. He lived a sin-filled life that left him empty. In the far country he discovered that money could not buy happiness and what he truly needed was a relationship with his father! There is grace in the younger son’s revelation. Many people move to a far country, go broke, live miserably, get sick and die. It is the mere grace of a loving God to use a bad situation to convict the heart.
b) The heart’s desire. As mentioned in point “a” above, God’s grace changes the heart of man. God can use kindness or hardness to call men to repentance, but man’s repentance is of God. What happens to the heart when God is convicting? The younger son decided to take a big step and head home, face dad and confess that he had sinned greatly. During the time of the parable there was no guarantee that the son would be permitted back in the family and there was the possibility of severe punishment; however, none of this stopped his heart from leading him to the father.
c) The long road home. The younger son, who at the time was starving, broke, dirty, and anxious to go home, started down the long road to the father’s house. The parable emphasized the distance as a “far country.” It was not a journey without obstacles or one he could complete unless his eye was on the prize. The long road home was a small price to pay if his dad would simply give him a servant’s job. The decision for a person to repent this morning is not a light one. It is not one that will be done without effort. There is the fear of failure, rejection, embarrassment, and the unknown, but if God is calling you to repent He will place in you the heart to follow through!
d) Who is the younger son? The younger son is a picture of those that are sinners who come to Jesus. They were in the audience the day Jesus spoke and they are in the audience today. The younger son had the smell and brokenness of sin on his body that could not be hid, yet his heart was humble and desired to repent and be close to the father. There would be much to be done after he was restored but none of that mattered. All he wanted was restoration. Today, if Jesus is calling you home to the Father, be humble, be repentant, and be the younger son. Come to the Father!
Application: Will you walk the long road home today?
II. The Father’s Acceptance (20a-24)
a) The father’s view. How God sees you may surprise you. Yes, He has allowed you by your own will to wander off, but He hasn’t forgotten you and His love has not failed! God sees you as a son that needs to be home in His care. The Father recognizes you just as the father in our story recognized his son. You may be far off, years may have passed and your looks changed, but the Father still knows His son! The father did not see his child as a vagabond sinner but as a son in his family. That is God’s view toward those that come to Him!
b) The father’s embrace. The father’s embrace began with a sprint. The father longed to hold his son and to kiss him over and over. The father tossed out all decorum of the day in order to express his full emotion for his once dead child. Imagine the relief and pure joy of touching someone you thought you lost for eternity. The filthy, skinny man in which his son had become did not detour the father from latching hold of his child. What others thought of the scene did not matter, the same way it did not matter to Jesus what those of His day thought of Him receiving sinners. Love was above decorum! The Father embraces those who want to repent. He handles them as if they are with the promise they will not be the same after His embrace.
c) The father’s ridiculous spending. Jesus taught Nicodemus about God’s love and He measured it by the gift of His only begotten Son. God’s love looks ridiculous. His great spending for a shattered soul is incomprehensible. A billion dollars for a wrinkled piece of common paper doesn’t compare to the price paid for us. What did this father do for his son? Robe, ring, roast, and a party? His son was recently a reckless spender indulging in sinful pleasure without restraint and the father gives him the “best” without placing the son under close scrutiny? It was wild spending that the father used to communicate absolute forgiveness and express what his heart has thought of his son through the years. The father was certainly prodigal (giving something on a lavish scale). God’s love for us is extreme and vast beyond all measure!
Application: Will you accept the embrace of God?
III. The Elder Son’s Protest (25-32)
i. Lost at Home- The oldest son, being hard at work in the fields came home to hear and see the festivities. Curious about the situation, he enquired what had taken place. He learned his little brother had come home and dad had gone all out to welcome him back to the family. This set big brother off. “How could
dad do such a thing? Has Pop lost his mind? This boy caused him and the family grief and shame and does not deserve anything! He hasn’t worked for a dime!” This type of attitude proves that the elder son was lost while at home the same way his younger brother was lost away from home. Salvation is first relational and then geographical. First, I am drawn to God because of His great love then I am geographically
(positionally) with God. The elder son felt that being “close” to dad equaled loving dad. Lost and at home is a hard place to be.
ii. Slave or oon? The father heard of the mad, prideful, pouting son standing outside the house and came to him in order to bring him into the house as well. The older son knew to come into the house he had to agree with the father’s nature and decision on the matter of radical forgiveness, acceptance, and restoration and that, for him, was not an option. When the older son stated his case he used two words “served” and “commands.” At first, they sound noble, but underneath the seemingly good service was rot. The son felt that his work and obedience of duty gave him the right to judge the father. He believed that he was good enough and if anyone had earned the right to be rejoiced over it was him. This attitude reeks of religious pride and an unsaved heart. Keeping the speed limit, all your life only ensures you will not receive a speeding violation, but it does not generate a reward. Nothing was owed to the older son for doing right. Reward only comes by grace. The father in the parable knew this but the son refused to know it. The son saw himself as a slave and was lacking the same thing the little brother had lacked for many years and that was a relationship with the father.
iii.The son’s disapproval and father’s last call. The older son finally said it. “Dad, you approve of his behavior after all he has done, you are in agreement with a wicked person?” He cunningly called the father wicked. When Jesus began to teach in Luke 15 the religious crowd said that “he receives sinners.” He accepts them as family and the Pharisees meant that Jesus was in accord with wickedness. The sharp disapproval of the father’s decision to accept, forgive, and celebrate the return of a dead child was hideous in the sight of the elder brother. Instead of snapping on his son the father once again reminded him of the love he had for him. “All that I have is yours” and “You are ever with me.”
Then he reminds him that joy over a lost brother is necessary. The older son lost nothing when his brother left but a brother. It cost him nothing but it cost the father greatly. The only way the older son could enjoy his father was to enjoy the nature of his father. The story ends and the “good” brother is left outside the tent. A stark warning settles over the crowd who had been listening as Jesus made it clear that the father receives sinners to forgive them. Many will come from the corners of the world to worship God in eternity, but people like the Pharisees would be left out (Matthew 8:11-12)
iv. Who is the older son? It is clear by now that the older son in our story is the Pharisees that were in the audience the day Jesus spoke this story. They are with us still today. The heart- wrenching truth is many that know of God do not know God and will be left out the Kingdom of God on the Day of Judgment. This is the hard truth the religious people had to hear. This story, in fact, was the Father coming outside the tent entreating them that they come inside to the celebration and fulfilment of grace. These people had been faithful to do and obey yet it was out of control and not love. Their work was
strategy and not love. Their idea was God owed them and when God seemed to reject them they would simply point to how good they had been and how bad someone else had been. The plan sounds good from the human point of view, and works quiet well with other people, but God is not swayed by such antics and accepts people based on His grace and not their own merit.
v. The older son takes nothing away. The older son, being outside does not hinder the celebration of the dead son coming to life once again. Joy in heaven will not be broken up by the shrills of Hell. If the idea of the older son was to stop the great joy of the Father’s grace he was sadly mistaken. God is happy in Himself and we share His happiness when it is directed toward us by His grace.
Application: Will you rejoice with God as a true son and brother?
IV. The Missing Brother
a. God is good, God is just. God is good, therefore God forgives sinners.
At the same time God is just and must condemn and punish sin. How are these great truths reconciled in the parable of the prodigal son?
b. Jesus the brother. The only way the story ends with the younger brother in the father’s house is because Jesus is the author. The person telling the story can map it out as they wish. Jesus spoke the parable directly to both audiences. The younger brother is the sinner and the older brother is the knowledgeable Pharisee. Jesus tells the story knowing he would die for both. The judgment of the Father would soon fall on Jesus. Whoever ends up in the Father’s house will do so because of the cross of Jesus Christ. God forgives and judges based on the cross of Jesus Christ. He was the missing brother in the story. Only the religious crowd would know to ask how God can accept sinners in such a way. Many that heard the parable that day would soon hear the message of the cross and get their answers.
c. Repent, rejoice, or perish. Our teaching will close with this invitation.
To those who are younger brothers, God wants you in His house. He longs to forgive you and make you His. Will you repent? To those
that are true older brothers: will you rejoice with the Father? Will your prayers, labor, giving, and songs be one with your heavenly Father? Will you cast off pride and doubt and get happy over the atoning work of Jesus? To the religious and non-religious that are hard of heart: Do you wish to perish? Are you willing to die in the far country or outside the house of God? Will you be saved?
Application: Will you read each story through the lens of the cross? Will you live your life through the lens of the cross?