The Father’s Delight


Text: Luke 15:1, 2; 11-32.

Jesus presents three parables to his audience in Luke 15. His audience comprises of “all the tax collectors and the sinners” who “drew near to Him to hear Him.”  And also complaining from afar, were Pharisees and scribes who said, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Perhaps to explain His actions, Jesus presents three parables in Luke 15 – The Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son – and how in each case, with the recovery of the lost object, there is great celebration in heaven as well as in the households.

We shall look at the parable of the lost son and study the three main characters presented by Jesus.

The Father

Owner of property, his livelihood. Divides his livelihood. Could happen at his death but does it anyway. Sees his son departing from him.  Must have missed him daily and eagerly awaited his return because, “when the younger son was still a great way off, he saw him and had compassion and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” His father meets him halfway! He is overjoyed at receiving his son back in one piece! He doesn’t even hear his son’s feeble mumblings of “father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son”.  He turns to his servants and instructs them, “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.” They celebrate the lost son’s return!  The father lavishes rich gifts on the son.  However, he is mindful of the older son and his absence from the celebration.  He goes out, finds the sulking older son, and pleads with him to join in the celebration. Upon being ticked off by the older son for receiving ‘this son of yours’ and celebrating his return, the father says, “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.”

The Younger Son

[Prodigal means: recklessly spendthrift. Prodigal living is characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure.]

Proudly says to his father, ‘Give me the portion of good that falls to me.’ Wanted something he had not worked for; couldn’t wait to get his hands on his father’s goods. Soon, he gathers his portion of his father’s livelihood and moves to a faraway land/ country where he wastes his possessions with prodigal living. Soon, everything is gone! A severe famine hits that place. He begins to be in want; feels his poverty. So he goes and starts serving a citizen of that place who sends him to feed swine. Oh how he has crashed! He would have gladly eaten the pods that the swine ate but “no one gave him anything”.  This is the reality of life. Fair weather friends won’t be found when one is in need!  Then something happens! He comes to his senses! He regrets his error. He realizes that in his father’s house the hired servants have more than enough food while he is dying of hunger! He decides to return home to his father and in all humility confess his fault and beg his father to make him like one of the hired servants. He rises and trudges back homeward and came to his father.  Wonder of wonders! His father meets him halfway, brushes aside his mumbled regrets and lavishes great gifts on him!

The Older Son

At the time of the father’s reconciliation with his younger son, the older son was out in the field. As he draws near to the house, ‘he heard music and dancing’.  He calls one of the servants and enquires about the goings on in the house. The servant tells him of his brother’s return and how the father, ‘because he has received him safe and sound’, has killed the fatted calf and the whole household is celebrating the event. This infuriates the older son. When the father comes out looking for him and pleads with him to join in the celebration, he answers and says to his father that he had been faithfully serving him for many years without breaking even a single of the father’s commandments and yet he had never received even a young goat (a kid) to celebrate with his friends. Contemptuously, he says, “As soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.” The father reminds him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.”

Application

The Father – loving, compassionate, and forgiving

He saw his son from a great way off, had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. – Luke 15:20.

With great longing, the father was always waiting for his son and anticipating his return home. The house must have seemed empty without him. He must have been constantly thinking about his son. When we go astray it hurts the Father. The Father mourns like someone is dead. His heart aches until we return, like someone who has lost a precious child longs to find it.

God is willing to meet the returning long lost soul halfway!  The Father sees you from afar! He knows where you have been; what you’ve been through. He knows what you have done. We don’t have to worry about the past. God has wiped it all away the moment we turned to Him in repentance. We don’t have to worry about our future because God has prepared ahead of time what we will need. All we have to do is trust God with our lives and allow Him to be the Father.

The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. – Psalm 14:2; 33:13; 53:2.

God always has His eye on us, waiting for us to seek Him!

The Younger Son – the prodigal who repented and returned home

“Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” – Luke 15:18, 19.

The younger son wanted his share of the father’s property and live life his way. So, upon receiving his share, he goes far away and lives life gratifying his carnal desires. He spent his money in recklessly extravagant living and lost everything. His circumstances, brought on by his prodigal living and natural calamity (famine), brought him to his senses. He realized what he had forsaken – the comfort, happiness, and security of his father’s house – and what could be gained by returning, though with a humble frame of mind.

“He arose and came to his father.” – Luke 15:20.

We come to our senses when we realize that we can’t make it on our own. That all our choices in life without God were big mistakes. We then surrender control of our lives to our Heavenly Father. We come to ourselves when we go to the Father with a penitent heart and ask His forgiveness of our wrong doing.

We all need to “come to ourselves” from time to time. If we don’t we will go astray. We will “self-destruct” without God!

As proud sinners, we are reluctant to come to ourselves and return to God, but God is quick to run to us as He sees our brokenness and penitent heart.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise. – Psalm 51:17.

If we have distanced ourselves from our heavenly Father for some reason, we should know that God has his eye on us and is waiting for us to seek Him and draw near to Him.

The Older Son – resentful and angry who refused to celebrate

“[H]e was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.” – Luke 15:28.

We find the older son’s heart full of anger and jealousy. He contrasts his unrewarded righteous living with his brother’s greatly rewarded sinful living.

He couldn’t understand why his father would lavish so much love on his younger brother after all the wrong he had done! It didn’t make sense to him. Mercy and grace never makes sense to someone who is not the receiver; only the receiver, with relief and gratitude, understands.

When jealously and anger grips our hearts it paralyzes us. It makes us do things that are selfish. The older son was offended because his focus was on the “good” he, and the “bad” his brother, had done.  Being critical or judgmental towards others is a sin. The older brother was just as guilty of wrong as the younger brother.

The Father Has The Last Word – It is right that we should happily celebrate

“And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ” Luke 15:31, 32.

All that I have is yours. Your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found. It is right for us to celebrate this event!

Conclusion

So Jesus gives the reason for the joy and celebration in each of the three “Lost” cases.

I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. – Luke 15:7.

“Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  – Luke 15:10.

It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ” – Luke 15:32.

Our heavenly Father delights in [celebrates] the repentance, recovery, and restoration of lost souls.


God Is Calling the Prodigal
Words & Music: Charles H. Gabriel (1856-1932)
Source: Public Domain

=======================================
God is calling the prodigal,
Come without delay,
Hear, O hear Him calling,
Calling now for thee.
Tho’ you’ve wandered so far from His presence,
Come today,
Hear His loving voice calling still.

Refrain
Calling now for thee,
O weary prodigal, come;
Calling now for thee,
O weary prodigal, come.

Patient, loving and tenderly
Still the Father pleads,
Hear, O hear Him calling,
Calling now for thee;
Oh! return while the Spirit
In mercy intercedes,
Hear His loving voice calling still.
Refrain

Come, there’s bread in the house
Of the Father, and to spare,
Hear, O hear Him calling,
Calling now for thee;
Lo! the table is spread and the feast
Is waiting there,
Hear His loving voice calling still.
Refrain


Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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