This sermon was based on Luke 15:11-31
The Parable of the Prodigal Son
11And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17″But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘ 20And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25″Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'”
Who is Jesus Addressing with this Parable?
- The chapter starts with Jesus speaking to Tax collectors and sinners. Tax Collectors were looked down upon and really hated as the worst of the worst. Sinners here refers to people who were considered very low in the community and outcasts. These are people who others have a low opinion of and who have a low opinion of themselves as well.
- The Pharisees and Scribes were also listening in. These were the most religious people you can imagine, they followed the rules to the letter. People look up to them and follow them. People have a high opinion of them and they have a high opinion of themselves.
- So we have one group who hears this story and knows they aren’t good enough and they identify with the son in the story. We have another group who are probably thinking ‘well that’s not me that’s all these others’ and fully expecting Jesus to come down hard on the sinners.
The Son in the Story
- The Son in the story here is preparing his apology speech. He’s working out what he needs to do to get back into the household. He’s thinking ‘if I work for my dad I can maybe go home as a servant’.
- The tax collectors and sinners here will be relating to this, feeling this is what they need to do to get right with God.
- The Pharisees and Scribes would be thinking ‘Yes Jesus, make them pay, show them that they need to make up for their sin and their poor choices, show them how difficult it is to be like us and work to keep the rules. Bring it home Jesus, show them how bad they are, convict them. What’s it going to cost them, show them what it costs.’
The Father in the Story
- The Father has a totally diofferent approach here though. His response is insane, the son took the fathers money, squandered the fathers money, belittles and dishonours the fathers name and then comes to his senses. The father is so overjoyed he doesn’t even mention any of the things the son says in his apology speech, he just takes the weight of all that’s happened on himself and welcomes the son back with open arms. This is Grace!
- The tax collectors and sinners would be listening to this and imagine the release they would feel! Its outrageous and its scandalouos and its beautiful!
- The Pharisees and Scribes on the otherhand may see themselves reflected in the older brother who is full of judgement and anger.
The absolutely scandalous grace of God is that whether because we’re a younger brother sinner, taking too much licence and going off the rails, or being an older brother pharisee and being too legalistic, either way …. God invites us into the party. We all get a second chance.