I had the privilege of preaching at Grace Harbor this morning on Luke 15 and the story of the prodigal son. Only, it is not the story of the prodigal son but the story of the lavish father and his two wayward sons.
The main point of the sermon was that God’s lavish love is meant to lead us to ongoing repentance.
1.Introduction, reading of the text, and comments on the first two stories (00:01)
2.The Young Brother’s Self-Indulgence (12:30)
3.The Father’s Lavish and Scandalous Love (25:00)
4.The Older Brother’s Self-Righteousness (33:00)
5.The Shocking Conclusion (46:30)
Lessons for Parents of Prodigals (and All Parents)
1. The father loved his sons in a lavish and scandalous way. Though we focus on the son(s), all three parables in that chapter are meant to show us the love of God seeking sinners. His love was so great it exposed him to scandal. (You can listen in at about 26:00 to hear the scandal). If God allows prodigals in our lives, it is a chance for us to understand more deeply the love of God and grow in that lavish, self-sacrificial love ourselves.
2. The father endured great pain and shame. He would have had to liquidate some of his holdings. Furthermore, the younger son was essentially saying, “I wish you were dead.” Rather than rebuking him and disowning him, the father loved him anyway. Similarly, parents of prodigals often have to endure relational pain inflicted by the child and feelings of shame from the Christian community. Lavish love endures pain and shame.
3. The father endured great pain and shame with the older son. No this is not a typo. The end of the story shows that the father had been living with a rebellious older son whose relationship was not filled with love. His body was at home but his heart was not. It had turned in bitterness against the father. And when the elder son makes a scene and shames the father at his own party, he still goes out seeking the elder son. The rebellious child in the home presents a different type of pain.
4. The father does not grow bitter. Rather than thinking about how he has been sinned against, we see the continued love of the father. Like Joseph, he has forgiven the sin even though the physical distance is great. Based on all the sacrifices we make for our children, it is easy to grow bitter or depressed if they turn away. Joseph could say, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good” (Genesis 50:20). May we hold on to that promise as well.
5. The father did not cause the waywardness. Though not stated directly, it is certainly implied. How could a man who has the previous characteristics have caused the waywardness of the two sons? Many times parents of prodigals live under the guilt of, “What if…” We are commanded not to exasperate or embitter our children and yet, having done our best, we are not ultimately responsible for their choices. We influence but do not control.
6. The father prayed in faith. Again, this is not stated directly but I wonder how the father saw his son coming from a long way off. It seems the answer is obvious–he was praying up on his (flat) roof! Rather than accepting the situation, he was seeking God’s face. Parents of prodigals, knowing the love of God and his sovereign control, should be “up on the roof” seeking God in prayer.
7. The father did not give up. I wonder how many times the father climbed the roof to pray. How many times did he release his sons to the Lord? Though he must go about his day, his heart was out seeking them. In the two previous stories, the shepherd and the woman are actively seeking their lost item. So even though, his body was not out seeking them, I think his heart and his prayers were. Like Job, he fulfilled his fatherly, priestly duty of prayer.