“The Lost Son”
Text: Luke 15:11-32
Preached by Pastor Don Hubbell at the
York First Church of the Brethren on
October 11, 2015 at the Morning Worship
Introduction: At NOAC, cousin Bob, in part 2 of his study on Jesus’ parable of the “The Lost Son” noted that the parable holds more than one meaning, but the interpretation must fit the text. Today’s parable, he said, is not yesterday’s parable because today we are not the same people we were yesterday.
He also had disappointing news for everyone who had come to hear him speak on the topic “A certain woman had two daughters,” which had been announced as the topic for the day’s study. He had given that title to the NOAC planning team six months previously, but had found in the time since that it didn’t work! No one seemed to mind as Bob mined Luke 15:11-32 for more gold.
He surprised more than a few listeners when he pointed out that it is the older brother, not the parable itself, that suggests the Prodigal younger brother misspent his share of the inheritance on wine, women, and song. “Maybe the women are part of the older brother’s imagination,” he said. The original Greek text states that the Prodigal lost the money in “self-destructive living.” Cousin Bob asked his listeners to imagine that the Prodigal was part of the Diaspora of God’s people, that is the scattering of the Jews throughout the Persian and Roman empires, he might have sought his destiny in the wider world with his father’s blessing. (We all know how young people are when they get an itch they want to scratch it so to speak. In other words, go out and experience life in the wider world)
Whatever happened, the money was soon gone and the younger brother experienced not repentance, or a turning away, but conversion, a turning towards. Whatever he had been attempting to do had failed. In leaving, he discovered who he really was, and had determined to come home.
Cousin Bob reviewed other Bible stories, such as that of Joseph and his brothers, about people who take great risks to become part of the Father’s blessing – – and the different roles of the older and younger siblings in such stories. These stories demonstrate that “parental love is never equally distributed,” Bowman said, and the older and younger siblings must come to terms with that truth.
The older brother, “teetering on the edge of his dilemma, of unequally distributed love in the world,” has an important choice to make. He had never learned the lessons of failure that led to the younger, Prodigal brother’s rediscovery of true identity. So Bob dramatized several possible endings to the story, in some of which the Older Brother’s choice leads to joy in the family.
Definition: Prodigal – recklessly wasteful, extravagant, profuse in giving, exceedingly abundant, lavish.
We have all known people who are like the younger son in this powerful little story that teaches so many lessons.
A.) One who accepts blessing while at the same time turning their back on the source of the blessing.
Example: I heard it said years ago that at age 17-18 parents are as dumb as dirt in the eyes of their teenage children but by age 25-26 that have become the smartest people on the planet. Is this true?
1. There are some things in the story of the Lost Son that seem to be obvious to me.
2. He is sinning in taking the fathers estate and leaving home.
3. He is not wise in the ways of the world and because of this loses his windfall quickly.
4. He tries, perhaps because of pride, to make things work out for himself before he comes to his senses and returns to the one sure thing that he can trust in this world and that is the home in which he grew up.
Example: We make an assumption that Jesus is telling the story about a Jewish family. If this is in fact the case then the feeding of the pigs in the story would be something a Jewish person would never do. That gives us a clue to how desperate the situation had really gotten.
5. In “coming to himself” is another way we might say, hitting rock bottom.
6. Self-realization of the hopelessness of the situation and the futile circumstances is the first step towards true repentance.
7. The challenge is coming to the point of realization of how bad things really are, and admitting to ourselves that we are the cause of it.
8. Our own actions have brought us to this point and led us away from God’s love.
II.) Repentance and Renewal
A.) The challenge of recognizing and returning to the place we belong.
1. Our actions, attitudes, and pride stand between us and the restoration we seek.
2. Our only hope at this point lies in God’s mercy and grace.
3. Humility is crucial for true repentance and renewal to take place.
Example: Humbling ourselves before God and seeking forgiveness and restoration is our desire. How can we be restored to that place where we once were? The greatest story that I know of besides God’s gift of his son, Jesus for the restoration of all of humanity is the story in the Old Testament of King David and his affair with Bathsheba. How when he is confronted by the prophet Nathan, he repents of his sin and finds restoration in his relationship with God.
4. Simply stated, repentance leads to a change in behavior and action.
5. The important thing was not that the son had gone away, but that now he was back!
6. His humility and conviction are sincere!
III.) Three implications
A.) The sin is against heaven, not just against himself.
Example: God, through the writer of Romans defines what sin is when we read in 3:20, “For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”
1. We don’t like the law because it does show us where we have fallen short.
2. The son confessed to his father.
3. Sin is rarely private and personal.
4. It impacts and affects others, even a whole community.
5. He is no longer worthy in his own eyes and thinking.
6. Once we turn away from God, it is only through God’s grace that we can be restored!
IV.) The restoration
A.) The robe, the ring, and the shoes.
1. Symbols of complete restorations.
2. Trust and authority restored.
B.) The fattened calf.
1. A very special animal that was saved for only the most important occasions.
C.) The high point of the story.
1. Don’t we just love a story with a happy ending?
2. Because we know this story so well, we take for granted the happy ending, right?
3. The son who was dead and lost is alive and found!
Conclusion to the story: But wait there is more to the story! How can we apply this story to ourselves and the York First Church of the Brethren? Of the two brothers in the story, we do not related to the younger brother as well as we do to the older brother in the opinion of the renewal team who is suggesting this story as a guiding story for our efforts in the area of renewal. Yet there is meat here for us to consider in our journey. We have been a blessed congregation in many ways and at many times down through our history. We have had tremendous wealth and resources through out our long history. Today, with a dwindling, aging congregation those resources aren’t as plentiful as they once were and yet there is still life!
Look at the out reach we have done in just the past year in regards to the crisis in Nigeria, in regards to the medical needs in Haiti, in regards to the recent disaster relief auction that raised close to half a million dollars. On and on the list goes of the story of our on going faithfulness.
Do have areas that need work? Of course we do! Are we on the right track back to the father? I believe we are. There is new life and restored hope in the congregation. Vigor and vitality are visible in many places of our community together. All ages are being ministered to.
Next week we will be talking about the older brother which is where the renewal team feels we are as a congregation. I hope it will become clear to us why the older brother represents our journey as a congregation and as individuals.