Good morning family and friends, What a glorious day to be alive. Praise Jesus. No matter what is going on in your life, good or bad, God loves you and He's still in control. Glory to God. Can I hear an amen?
Today's message is going to be a bit different. Yes, we are still going to be looking at verses in the Bible, but I want to have everyone involved. I'm going to ask each of you questions as we do this study. I'll take turns asking each of you a question and would ask that you keep your answers short and to the point.
Reading from the book of Luke Wednesday morning, I received much meaning from what Jesus was and still is trying to get across to us. This parable about the prodigal son is a story that we've heard many, many times. In fact, there was a member on Cross Roads Fellowship who refereed to this parable on another Christian site a few days ago. Yesterday morning, our grandson was watching a cartoon on the same parable. Maybe, because I have been leading church services for 2 and a half years and continually trying to hear what God would have me teach, or maybe because of I feel with everything within me that we are about to enter into a very trying time in this world like we have never seen. Whatever the reason, I thought it important to share this this morning. Let’s read from the passage. Please turn to Luke 15:11-32, if you will.
Luke 15:11-32 KJV And he said, A certain man had two sons: (12) And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. (13) And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. (14) And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. (15) And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. (16) And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. (17) And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! (18) I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, (19) And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. (20) And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. (21) And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. (22) But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: (23) And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: (24) For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. (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.
There is a very powerful message if we really dig into what Jesus was telling in this scripture. Jesus told many parables and even the disciples at times had a hard time understanding the meaning. As I say in all my Bible studies, it is so important to be in God’s Word. The more we are in it, the more meaning we get from it. What I am in hopes to do with this is to explain the importance of being in God’s Word.
So many have not read God’s Word. So first we need to read it. Secondly, after you read God's Word, you need to understand what it means. You ask yourself, "What does He mean by what He said?" Then the third thing you ask is, "What does it mean to me?" And that's application and that's what I hope to explain in this. How do you apply what you learn from God's Word?
Now you know this passage. Some people refer to this passage as the lost and found department of the New Testament. I don’t want to bring out all the facts Jesus gives here, who did what, when and things like that. I am in hopes to show how we can apply this to our lives.
So we read. Step one. Who are the main characters? Father and prodigal son? If that's your answer, you're correct. I ask another question. If that represents what the facts are of the story, the second thing we want to do is interpret those facts. So let me ask you this: Who is this story directed to? Who is the audience Jesus is telling this parable to? And the answer is the Scribes and the Pharisees. How do we know that? If we go back to chapter 15, verses 1 and 2, we learn that there were tax collectors and sinners and Pharisees and Scribes.
Luke 15:1-2 KJV Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. (2) And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
What do we know about tax collectors? Tax collectors collect taxes, right? But tax collectors were people especially unpopular among the Jews because they were Jewish people collecting taxes from Jewish people to give to the Roman government. Who can honestly say they like to pay taxes? I mean , we pay taxes for almost everything we do. Food tax, property tax, clothes, taxes on what we sweated for during work. Even when we die, many states have a death tax.
Who are the sinners referred to here? Well, it doesn't actually say, does it? But we do know this from other passages of Scripture, that the Pharisees saw as sinners anybody who did not keep the Law the same way they did. So if you weren't a Pharisee, in their minds, you were automatically a sinner. From reading from the book of Acts a couple days ago, I really have that embedded in my mind. And then the fourth category here, the Scribes. These are people who dedicate themselves to the study of the Law. The problem with all of these people is they are not living lives that are very pleasing to the Lord.
Now we've looked at the category of people here. We've read the story. That's the first step you do. We're interpreting the story now, so let me ask you some other questions from this passage. Who do you suppose the father represents in this story? This is a parable. A parable is not designed to be historical. It is designed to teach a spiritual truth. Amen? So who do you think the father might represent? God? So God the Father is represented here by the father in the story. Who might the sons represent? Sinners. Us. Generally we will find ourselves on one side of the Father or the other. We find ourselves as the prodigal or we find ourselves as the older brother. If the sons then represent us and the father represents God the Father, you know when you come to application, the application you are going to look for is, “What is my relationship to the Father?”, because that is the point of the story.
Now if you go back and ask yourself, what do you suppose the attitude toward the father is of the first son, the son who runs away from home? What are some words that would describe his attitude toward his father? What do you think? My first thought would be disrespectful. He demands of his father a portion of the inheritance. Insensitive? This man is asking for his inheritance. He is asking his father to sell a portion of the family land and give him the proceeds so he can spend it any way he wants to. So the attitude of this prodigal, this younger brother, is not good toward his father.
We also read about the older brother. What do you suppose the attitude of the older brother is? Self-righteous. As he is really ticked off at his father for having this party when his younger brother comes home because he never gave a party for him. So he's obviously self-righteous. What else about this older brother that you see? Angry? He's very angry. He won't go in the house because he is very angry at his father for treating his younger brother with such compassion.
So now we have a father involved, we have a younger son involved, we have an older brother involved, and then we have this father's relationship to the two boys. I want you to look right into this passage and when it comes to the father's relationship to the younger son, the prodigal, the one who left home, when the prodigal decides to go back home again, show me the verse that shows his change of attitude toward the father. What verse would that be? I find it in 21. The son said to him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. The son makes up his mind that he has to go home. And when he goes home he does exactly what he says he is going to do. He's going to repent before the father. He is going to ask the father to forgive him.
Friends,we are talking about application, so what is the attitude of God the Father to repentant sinners? What does God the Father want to do for and what attitudes do you see on the part of God the Father, and what characteristic of God the Father do you see at play here in this passage? He ran out to him before he even had a chance to get to him. And he was very eager to welcome him home.
OK, here we are at verse 20. Look at the this passage. It says, While he was still a long way off, his father 1) saw him, 2) was filled with compassion for him, 3) he ran out of the house, 4) had compassion on him and what did he do? 5) Embraced him. He threw his arms around him, gave him the biggest bear hug this kid had ever had. Now, make an application with regard to God the Father and you and me. Number one, saw him. What's the application there? God sees us, He's watching for us. If we've wandered away from the Father, God is not off busy somewhere. He's looking for us to come home. He had compassion on him. He ran out to get him. How does God run out to get us? He sent His Son, Jesus. He didn't stay in the comfy position in Heaven. He had His Son leave Heaven to come out to get us. Jesus was on a rescue mission to take us back to the Father.
So first of all, he saw him a long way off, he had compassion on him. God loves the world, He gave His only begotten Son for this world. He goes out and runs out to get us, He embraces us which is what the Gospel is all about, embracing sinful people in the world. And He brings us into the house. He brings us into the family of God.
There is only one interpretation of Scripture. Whatever the original teller of the parable intended, that's how you and I interpret Scripture. So He's telling a story here in which He has a particular interpretation for us to understand. There is however, more than one application to Scripture and you and I can apply this in a dozen different ways. We can apply it, God the Father, to a wayward son or daughter like you and me. How would we apply it in the home of a family member where a son has run away from home? If you want to know how God would have you act, then you can see here the example of how God would want you to welcome back your wayward child. God doesn't set up this list of things, this check off list. His prodigals have to go through the hoops they have to jump through in order to come back to God. Amen? Am I painting a picture here?
And we shouldn't do that for our prodigals as well. Sometimes we make it so difficult for our prodigals to come home that they don't want to come home. So let's learn from this passage, let's apply this to our own lives. When it comes to the father and the son who ran away from home, the father greeted him with open arms, no prior conditions having been met. In fact, the son wanted to throw himself at the father's feet, repent of his sins and say, "Just make me a servant." But the father wouldn't do that. Instead, what does the father do? Puts the ring on the hand, puts new clothes on his back, puts the shoes on his feet. They kill the fatted calf and they have a gigantic party. Because anytime a sinner comes home to God, that's worthy of having a party. In fact, Luke 15:7 says this:
Luke 15:7 KJV I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
Luke 15:10 KJV Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
As I said, it's a wonderful, powerful story, because the sinner left, the sinner came back and his father received him. We could stop the story right there. But if you are going to really apply this passage correctly, you have to interpret it correctly. And to interpret it correctly, you and I have to read it correctly. If we're going to apply the story correctly to our lives, then we have to go back through interpretation and instruction and ask some questions, and here they are. Amen?
We looked at this earlier. To whom is Jesus speaking when He gives the parable? And you know the answer. The answer is the Pharisees, Scribes, sinners, tax collectors. Just your ordinary church bunch. See, if you make an application of this story that does not take into consideration who Jesus was telling this story to, you probably have missed the interpretation of the story that brings about an appropriate application. I, prior to this had done exactly that. So Jesus is talking to Pharisees. Are Pharisees generally people who run away from home or are Pharisees people who stay at home and whine about others? They are not son number one. The Pharisees better fit son number two, which may lead you to believe, when you interpret Scripture correctly, there is a prodigal in this passage. But it is not the boy who left home. It's the boy who stayed home. I want to focus on the older brother. What did the older brother do? Ran and joined the party? Clapped? Became a part of everything? What the older brother did was what the Pharisees would do. He whines about it. He doesn't like the fact that the father is receiving this sinful son back just like the Pharisees didn't like the fact Jesus was eating with sinners. Afraid because Jesus was stirring up things that might make the Romans mad. So if the father went out and got the younger son who left home and brought him into the family, what does the father do with the older son? Exactly the same thing. He leaves the house, goes out to the son who won't come in the house and he says, "Come on in and join the party." And then this son begins to whine and complain to the father because he hasn't killed a goat and given him a party and yet this younger son, you make a big deal over him. And he is just as upset as he can be because he is a Pharisee. And that's the whole point of this.
We are applying what this passage means to us. If you look at this passage and you say, "Who ends up with the better relationship with the father at the end of the story, the younger son or the older son?", what's the answer? The younger son does. So at the end of the story, the younger son who left home is in the house and at the end of the story, where is the older son? He's not in the house. He's outside whining about what's going on in the house. So when the story ends, there is still a prodigal here. But the prodigal now has become the older brother. I think when you look at the context of the story, when you see who it is Jesus is telling the story for, I think you have to come to the conclusion that the primary interpretation of this parable is not about the son who goes away. It's about the son who never goes away. It's not about the son who destroys his life and comes back and has it restored. It's about the son who stays home and destroys his life because of his sour attitude toward the father.
Isn't it interesting the only stable person in this entire story is the father and both the sons are kind of bouncing off the father here, both of them have a significant need, and the need is a relationship with the father.
I hope that I might have helped someone here. This passage really talked directly to me. I learned things about me and my attitude. I learned how to deal with some situations. I also learned a different way of interpreting the Bible to hopefully be a better teacher. God is so awesome and when I have prayed to receive a better knowledge of what He wants to teach me and how, if He desires me to teach from His Word, to teach others, and to do it in a way that will penetrate deep into the listener, and most importantly, Honor and Glorify God the Father. Praise God.
God bless you.