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3-31-19 Sermon

Luke 15:1-3; 11-32

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son into our world to bring sinners back to You. Through the power of Your HOLY SPIRIT, help us to realize that we come before You as sinners who have been redeemed by Your saving grace. Please free us from our arrogant pride in our self-accomplishments, and help us to trust solely in Your amazing grace. This we ask in CHRIST’s holy name. Amen.

Is your God a generous God or a God that makes you earn what you get? Do you believe that God wants to give you everything? Or has satan deceived you into thinking that God doesn’t give-- He takes, and demands. He spoils some but not others?

 

Satan portrays God as unfair, demanding, and mean. But that’s really not who God is.

 

God is more like the Father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son - which could probably be better named the Parable of the Prodigal Father —the Father who prodigiously gives and gives and gives some more.

 

First he gives his younger son his share of the inheritance. It was embarrassingly shameful for the son to even ask for his inheritance, because it meant he wished his father dead. And even though the Father knew it was not in his son’s best, he lets him have it.

It’s the Father’s character to give - even his servants were well cared for and had more than enough. So when the son returns, after having lost everything - money and reputation - the father gives him even more. This parable is a description of the generosity of our God.

But there’s something else here that the Father gives, that we might easily overlook: the Father gives his honor. He allows himself to be shamed in order to honor his son.

 

When the younger son asked for his inheritance, instead of the father refusing, which would have allowed him to retain his honor in the community- he allows himself to be dishonored. By giving the younger son his inheritance, he shamed himself. The Father was perceived as weak, gullible and stupid. But it gets worse.

When the younger son returns after his scandalous adventures, the father doesn’t make his son crawl in the dirt; instead he honors on his son! He runs out to meet his filthy, pig stinking son. He embraces and kisses him. He covers his filth with a new robe and sandals and ring, and throws an expensive feast for him and the Father becomes the gossip topic again.

In the culture of that day, he should have made his son beg to even see him; beg to be allowed into his presence! Never should he have embraced this filthy, poor excuse for a Jewish son, much less give him his best robe, new sandals, and the family’s signet ring, which would be like giving him the password to your online banking accounts. The father gives up his honor to honor his son.

And the Father does it for his older resentful, hated-filled, son as well. Because the older son disobeyed and disrespected his father by refusing to come into the party and the father goes after him too.

He doesn’t flex his fatherly muscles - he goes to his older son and begs him to forgive his brother and come and celebrate his return. No sensible, self-respecting Father would do that! Show those ungrateful brats who’s in charge. Make them do it. Make them change. Make them earn it.

That’s how satan wants us to think. But it’s not how God thinks.

 

In the Epistle Paul tells us how God acts: For our sake he made Jesus to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Jesus we might become the righteousness of God.

 

The Parable of the Prodigal Father-- who knew no sin, took his sons’ sins - took their shame and rebellion - upon himself, because he wants to give them everything.

 

That’s what God has done for us in Jesus. Jesus had no sin-- took ours. He had no shame—but took ours. He who was obedient--took our disobedience upon Himself. He who deserved only praise took our ridicule. All this, so we might be forgiven and honored cleansed and exalted. God has given us everything.

 

So how do we respond? Like the younger son, run away from God to find fun, excitement, and independence? Or like the older son, do we resent the blessings of others? Are we dissatisfied with the gifts God gives?

 

Or are we like both sons, focusing only on the things of this world and this life, willing to loose our souls for few moments of pleasure vs. the joy of here after.

I think we all resist repentance and confession; instead we make excuses for our behavior--thinking we’re the good one, or at least not as bad as the other guy, so we deserve our Father’s favor.

How utterly foolish it is to think we can get more, do better, and be happier apart from our gracious, Heavenly Father.

 

The Body and Blood of His dear Son is here for you to forgive your sin, to strengthen your faith, to feed your soul. Not because you are a hired hand, but because you are His dear child. He will graciously give us all things. Not as we demand, but in love, as we are ready. Amen