Verse of the Week
“For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate.” [Luke 15:11-24]
The Big Picture
Jesus is teaching in Parables. Pharisees are asking him why in the world he’s eating with sinners and tax collectors. The parable is about the older brother. The one who was upset that the lost brother was found and celebrated while he was not. God leaves the 99 to get the one. God looks for the 1 lost coin even if he has 9 found ones. Jesus came to seek and save the lost.
The Rebellion of A Son:
Our problems begin in the conspiracy for autonomy (Independence) from the One who made us. “Freedom for the younger son meant doing what he wanted to do.” The desire for freedom is the pain he inflicts on the heart of his father. In the Jewish and Arab world there is no precedent in or custom of a father to divide his property with his children before his death. Father, I would rather you be dead is basically what he is saying here. The result of this insult in this culture would be to uphold the family honor, beat the son into submission or just disinherit him. The Father allows him to take his stuff and go. We can look all the way back in Genesis 3 and see that our problem originates with the desire to be independent. Sin is rejection of God’s good design. He squandered it with wild living.
Living apart from the Father doesn’t go well for us. He squandered the inheritance. Living outside of God’s design leads to brokenness. God is Creator God, he created us for Him and for His purposes. Not only for His own glory, but for our good. He knows how he made us and how we can flourish in His good design. The root of the problem is embracing the desire to do life the way you want to do it. It never goes well! Your sin is probably a lot worse than you think and God’s grace is probably a lot better than you think. A good father in his grace, like in v. 11-12 he chose to bear his pain of rejection in order for the possible return of the son.
The Moment of Repentance for the Son vs.13-20
We can look at “came to his senses” as repentance, this was his turning point. The fork in the road where he realized it was time to start walking back home. His independence proved to come at a high cost! (He lost everything) It was his pain that prodded him home, not even the love for the father. (Would he have returned home if he had not become in need?) As humans sometimes it seems that when pain increases to an intolerable level that we finally are motivated to change. We can endure and tolerate self destructive habits until something bad happens that finally makes us ask, “What am I doing to myself?”
Many of us begin our relationship with the Father because our current way of life is not working. The son came home out of self interest and self help! (I’ll work my way back in) He tried to earn his way back into the good graces of the father. There were two kinds of servants: ones in the house and ones in the field. He still didn’t understand the love of the father fully yet. See he didn’t need to work, he needed to be saved. Remember the key to true repentance is seeing God for who He is and seeing sin for what it is. Truly seeing ourselves and our sin nature for the first time can lead to faith and freedom in Jesus Christ.
When the son returns home the father responds. Not in anger, or frustration, or humiliation of the son for what he knew was a terrible decision. The Father ran to meet his son and had compassion on him. The son said in verse 21, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.” A true mark of a believer is first and foremost this understanding. God I have sinned against you, I am so unworthy of your grace and mercy. I haven’t just messed up a few times, I'm not a decent person that has some problems. But God I am a sinner in need of your grace and mercy. This one verse shows a true understanding of our sin nature before a Holy God.
When we understand and believe this truth only then can Jesus begin to transform our lives. Only then can we see Jesus' payment for our sins as the amazing blessing and grace from God that it truly is. Now look at what the father does. V.22-24, “But the father said to his servants, Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry.” When we see Him for who He is and we see ourselves for who we are, Jesus has paid the penalty and we can go from death to life in Him. From a filthy sinner to a new creation clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
How has your week been spiritually? / What is God teaching you?
What are some of the obvious observations from this passage?
How does this passage relate to us individually?
Is there an area of your life where sin is robbing you of true life?
Who can you bring to Connect Group next week?
What next step is God calling you to take?