The Prodigal The Rest of the Story Part 1

June 1, 2014

What would be the worst job that you
could possibly imagine yourself in?  If
the bottom fell out of your world, and you had no safety net what would be on
the very bottom of the list of occupations? 
Perhaps the person in charge of Rob Ford’s Public image?
Now imagine if you will that
you had been born into a very wealthy and privileged family, never had to work
a day in your life, enjoyed everything that life had to offer and suddenly it
was all taken from you.  You had gone
from the top to the bottom in less time than it took to say it, and now you
were at the very bottom of the food chain. 
No job experience, unused to physical labor and hungry.  What would you be willing to do to keep from starving
to death?
Jesus tells the story in the
book or Luke and it begins with the scripture that was read earlier, Luke 15:11 To illustrate
the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.”
Had to be two sons for the master story teller, one would
have been have been too few, three or more would complicate the story.  So there were two sons.  An older son to whom 2/3 of the family’s
estates would go to.  But as Peter Parker
was told, with great power comes great responsibility, and so he would be
expected to take care of Mom and Dad.
The younger son, would get the remaining
one third of the family fortune and he would be free to either hang around or
hit the road it would be up to him, he’d get his 1/3 either way.  A story that could have been told about you
or about me there was nothing special about these two kids they were just
people. 
Most of us know it as the story of the
Prodigal son, but it could have been called the Story of the Forgiving Father,
or the Story of the Unforgiving Brother.


And so the story goes on, Luke 15:11-12 To illustrate
the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. The younger
son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So
his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
Now as we mentioned before that 1/3 of
the family fortune, whether big or small would have been his when his father
died, but hey who wants to wait around for that?  And so he said, “Hey Dad, why can’t I have my
share now?”  We don’t know what the
Father’s initial reaction to his son’s demand was but we do know that eventually,
he divided his property between both sons, not simply the younger one. 
I don’t know if the older son wanted his
share up front or not, but he got it, and with it he got the responsibility of
dealing with Ma and Pa.  Now what the
sons received was not necessarily just money, although that was a good part of
it.  But the most important thing that
the sons received was control over their destiny.  Up to that point they were still under Dad’s
control but with their inheritance they obtained their freedom.
The father was saying, “I love you my
son, enough that I’m ready to let go”
Now we can draw a parallel here with the
gift of free will that we are given by God. 
God is saying, “My child I love you, I love you so much that I never
want to be separated from you, and I would never hurt you, and there are times
I wish I could keep you from sinning. 
But I loved you so much that I gave you your freedom, even if you use it
to be separated from me.” 
This man loved his son more than words
could express and even though he probably had an inkling of what might lay
ahead for his youngest he loved him enough to give him the freedom to choice
his own path.
Luke
15:13
“A few days later this younger son
packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all
his money in wild living.
1) He Chose to Leave
His father had given him control, and he stayed only long
enough to decide to leave.  So he
gathered up his choice and his free will and left home.  In the story Jesus tells us that the son left
for a distant land, but he didn’t have to he could have moved next door and the
story would have stayed pretty much the same. 
Jesus said that he wasted his money in wild living, but he didn’t have
to he could have invested it carefully and lived comfortably ever after.  But he didn’t
He chose to leave and he left.  Different translation use different words to
describe how he spent his money.  The
NKJV called it Prodigal, the KJ called it riotous, the TEV said it was reckless
and the NIV and CEV call it wild living. 
Now to be truthful we really don’t know what the kid did with his money,
“Prodigal Living?”  I didn’t even know
that prodigal was a word. 
But we can take a pretty good guess. In
the end, he blew his money.  Bought a new
Harley, got himself a condo in Miami Beach and threw a party, he got down and
funky.  I’m sure that he was having a
blast as a matter of fact if you could have caught his attention and asked
him:  “Excuse me Mr. Prodigal, what
exactly are you doing.”  I’m sure that he
would have said, “I’m enjoying myself.”  And
maybe then you could have responded with, “well perhaps you think you are
enjoying yourself but in reality you are miserable.”
You ever heard Christians use that line
of reasoning with pre-Christians?  Or
preachers take that track, “Oh sinners you might think you’re having fun, you
might think you have the world by the tail, you might think you’re having a
hoot, but you’re not kidding me, I know that you are really having a terrible
time.”  Uh-huh.  Right, if sin wasn’t fun it wouldn’t be a
temptation. 
Face it if sin were like root canal people
wouldn’t be lining up to get in the dental chair.  Here’s the reality though folks, sin may be
fun but it ain’t permanent.  Although the
price you pay may be.
Even the word of God acknowledges that in
Hebrews 11:25 when it talks about the
pleasures of sin that last for a short time. 
It doesn’t say that sin isn’t pleasurable, but it does say that it’s not
going to last forever.  And your ability
to play is directly proportional to your ability to pay.  Now I know the mind set of “Well I know when
it’s time to quit” and I’m going to have 
a little bit of fun now and then I’ll serve the Lord, I will sow my wild
oats and pray for crop failure.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “Sin will
always take you further then you want to go,
It will always keep you longer then you want to stay
And it will always cost you more then what you want to pay.”
But don’t get me wrong prodigal is not
simply a matter of a wild and crazy style of life, uh, huh.  He could have married the girl next door,
lived in a split level tent and drove a four door chariot and still not been
right.
When we decide to do what we
want to do at the expense of what God wants us to do we are in trouble.  And the time will come in every one of our
lives that we have to make that very decision and as that great American
philosopher Yogi Bearra said, “When you come to a fork in the road take it.”  God won’t simply let you coast.  You say, “But Denn, I haven’t made a choice
not to serve God”, maybe not but you haven’t made the decision to serve him
either, and you need to come to the place that Joshua did in Joshua 24:15 when he told the people of Israel Joshua 24:15 But if you
refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. . . But as for
me and my family, we will serve the LORD.”
Now we can approach this from a different
angle.  Maybe the son did make a
conscience decision to remain with his father but after a while changed his
mind.  You know there were too many
rules, wanted to let his hair down, sow his wild oats.  He may very well have been a perfect son
while he was home, but now he is gone.
Now I know that people want to play games
with this one and say, “See that proves that if you are a Christian and you
backslide, or walk away from the Lord that you will come back.”  Nope the story said he did come back, not
that he had to come back.  We can get
into all kinds of arguments by saying “well what if he had died when he was
still in the foreign land?”  Well
personally I feel that he would have died a pauper and been buried in an
unknown grave because he had choose to leave the privileges of being his father’s
son far behind.  But not everyone
believes that way, and I’ve been wrong before.
But you do understand that he had blown it.  He had walked away from his relationship with
his father and he had blown it.  And he
was able to come back and he did come back and the moral of the story is that
you can come back too.  Luke 15:14 About the time
his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve.
Denn’s translation was, “He was broke” and remember what I
said earlier about your ability to play being directly proportional to your
ability to pay.  You got it!  When the money dried up so did his friends.  It wasn’t the famine that made his life
wrong, but it took the famine to show him that his life was wrong.
And you know as well as I do that you can
be surrounded by everything you ever wanted, craved and coveted and still be
empty.  You can have a beautiful family,
a wonderful job, everything the Jones have and more.  Be secure, confident and comfortable and
still be experiencing a famine in your life. 
Because those things only fill a temporal need.  The one big need we have is to be at one with
our maker.
There are all kinds of people out there
who look like they have the world by the tail, but they are out of step with
God.  There comes a time in our lives
when we look around at all we have accumulated and say “What does it all mean?” 
We can be prodigal and not even know
it.  We’ve developed a twisted sense of
what being out of the will of God is.  If
a woman cheats on her husband and lies about it then she’s out of the will of
God.  If a man is a wife beating drunkard
then he is out of the will of God.  Sure,
but so is the nice clean cut business person who only attends church to keep up
appearances.  You ok?
Because in the book of John 3:3 Jesus said, John
3:3
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth,
unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
It has
nothing to do with what occupation you have, what church you go to or how you
vote, Unless a person chooses to begin a relationship with God, in effect
beginning a new life, experiencing a new birth, 
then they are choosing to remain separated from God.
But the story doesn’t end
there.  In Luke
15:16
The young man became so hungry that
even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him
anything.
He was broke, destitute, without hope and
without prospects.  He was so far down he
had to look up to see the bottom.  He
hired himself out as a pig keeper, now for you being a pig keeper might not be
bad, but remember where the story was taking place and how it was laid down in
the Old Testament that the pig was an unclean animal.
This boy was had broken every barrier and
now this was the final insult, to be a pig keeper.  Ouch that had to hurt.  You know a lot of us have been pig farmers,
and we’ve discovered that just because you’re down in the swill and dirt you’re
not alone.  People have been there before
and crawled out and so can you. 
Sometimes it isn’t even all that dirty, sometimes swill is served on
fancy china in a swank restaurant, you know what I mean.  Cause if you are supposed to be a child of
the King and you’re not then everything else is just swill.
Luke
15:17
“When he finally came to his senses,
he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare,
and here I am dying of hunger!
And then one day he woke up and
said, “Whoa Nellie, what am I doing?”   I’m sure that he knew it all along, but he
finally admitted it.  You ever been
there, you ever know what you should be doing, and what you shouldn’t be doing
and just refuse to acknowledge it?  But
in his case it took more than knowledge, it took action.  It wasn’t enough to simply acknowledge the
truth he needed to act upon it. And so if we continue to read in the story we
discover in Luke 15:18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned
against both heaven and you. . .
I would think that this would have been
tough.  Imagine having to go back, cap in
hand and admit that you had been wrong, ever had to do it?  It’s not the easiest job in the world to
do.  But he recognized that he blew it.
It’s only when you can get to the point
that you can finally admit that it is not your parents, and not society, and
not your spouse but you who are responsible for
where you are, that you can move on. 
Christ won’t come as your personal saviour until you take
personal responsibility for your sins. 
Luke 15:20 “So he returned home to his father.
. .” 
2) He Chose to Return
It’s not rocket science to figure this one out people, the
kid returned home.  It doesn’t matter
what your theological position is, the fact is that the prodigal son went home,
he didn’t stay in a far off land, he didn’t stay feeding pigs instead he went
back to his father’s house.
You have to make that first
step, if you have walked away from the Father, you have to walk back to the
Father, he’s not going to carry you kicking and screaming. I love the last part
of this verse because it says Luke 15:20 “So he
returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father
saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced
him, and kissed him.”
His father didn’t drag him home, but he
must have been watching and waiting for him to come back because when he was
still a long way off, his father saw him. 
He probably kept a porch light on and got up every morning thinking
perhaps today will be the day my son will come home.
If you’ve walked away from God
I want you to know that he’s left the porch light on for you.  And notice that the Son didn’t come back as a
second class citizen, the father didn’t give him a job with the workers in Luke 15:22-24 “But his father
said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on
him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we
have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was
dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the
party began.
The Father forgave his son, not just a
little bit but completely.  Because with
complete repentance comes complete forgiveness. 
So, where you at this morning?  Do you need to come home?  The Father still has a light on and there is
still a celebration waiting, listen to Jesus words in Luke 15:10 In the same
way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner
repents.”