Then He said: “A certain man had two sons.
The ‘certain’ man is wealthy, with a house of abundance, best robes, gem encrusted rings, many servants who all live well, stock for celebrations as well as business. In fact each of the parables indicates Jesus is addressing a wealthier class than just the poor – a man with 100 sheep; a woman with ten coins as a headdress.
Lk 15:12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.
The younger son’s request prompted the father to divide the inheritance to them both, so both the elder and the younger received their inheritance at the same time. We will be blessed when we are in the father’s house. What we do with those blessings is our decision. The way we steward our inheritance is very important. It’s amazing how large the doors are that swing on such small hinges. Esau was happy to sell his birthright, his inheritance for a bowl of stew. His destiny, his double portion of blessing, his priesthood in the family, all gone because he preferred to satisfy a carnal appetite in a small moment of time. What price do we place on our soul? What value do we place on our God-given destiny? This is only measured by what we will sacrifice for it.
Lk 15:13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. Lk 15:14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Lk 15:15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
Separated from the Father the prodigal becomes joined to a citizen, a cruel taskmaster who didn’t even feed his employee, maybe only offering him shelter. Now he learned the gracious father he had wanted to escape from, was like heaven compared to the cruelty of the tyrant he was now joined to. The crowd shuddered as Jesus spoke of a young nobleman being degraded to feeding the despised and forbidden swine.
Lk 15:16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
His father had given him everything, but he had in turn given no-one anything of his inheritance. He had only spent it on his own pleasures. Now he was reaping as he had sown – no-one gave him anything.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
There is a day when all of us ‘come to ourselves’. We remember who we really are. Being distant from God and His house causes us to forget who we are and behave differently than we did when we were in the House. When we come to our own self, and accept who we are, we begin the return to the Father. He knew that to return to the father, he needed to return to the House. The Father and His house go together. The Father didn’t leave the House. He always remained at the House. All of us find the Father in His house. He knew he had to make a journey back to the house. He knew that even the servants in the House were far better off than he was away from the house. They had good food and food to spare! Church should definitely be a better place in life than anywhere else. Every pastor and leader should make church the best experience in town. There should be abundant provision, acceptance for sinners, parties, restoration to their best life & celebration. People who have been in church should be able to come to their senses realizing they were far better off in church than they are anywhere else.
The crown of sorrows is the sorrow of remembering better times and how our own actions have forfeited them.
Lk 15:18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,
He was completely confident in his father’s character being filled with mercy. He knew his father’s love would not have failed, nor his faith given up. He knew his father’s generosity would not forbid him at least a servant’s lifestyle.
He rehearses his prayer of repentance, summoning humility to frame his words.
He realizes that to sin against his father is to sin against heaven and God Himself. How did the son sin against his father? By shaming him by the way he lived; by wasting the money he had demanded from the father; by leaving the house to escape accountability.
Lk 15:19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’
True repentance must accept that we are not worthy to be called sons of God. Let God call us worthy. He simply wants to be accepted back into the house and the covering of that house.
His earlier prayer was ‘Give me’. Now his prayer is ‘make me’, which is a vastly different to his first.
“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.
When we begin to return to God He moves towards us, even when we are still a great way ‘off’. When we come into visibility before God, He has compassion. God ‘runs’ – moves swiftly to those who come to Him, and kisses and embraces the returning sinner. Mercy is the environment in which true repentance takes place, not in a condemning atmosphere.
Lk 15:21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
The prodigal doesn’t even get to the part of his rehearsed speech where he asks to be just a hired servant. The Father stopped him short. He would only receive him as a son.
“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.
There is no announcement of forgiveness, just simple actions and this is how God shows forgiveness, with actual real events, like healing, deliverance. Just as sin has consequences, so does forgiveness. To say that a person is forgiven but will still need to suffer the consequences of sin is folly. When Jesus healed the palsied man, he announced him forgiven, adding that healing and forgiveness were the same.
The best robe is the robe of Christ’s righteousness. The Lord is our righteousness, not our own goodness. We are righteous with Christ’s perfect life. He lived his perfect life so we could receive it as our own. This is God’s great gift to anyone who simply comes to the Father. It is Joseph’s robe of favor, a thousand colors of grace, attracting the blessing of God and the shrieking hatred of the world, even brothers. It is the robe of worship, which is a privileged gift from God to sing praise and enter His Presence. It’s the robe of armored clothing protecting us from the snares, schemes, and arrows of the enemy.
The ring is Joseph’s power of attorney to act on behalf of the King. A person wearing such a ring could punch it into a clay tablet at any place of business and it was like a credit card. It would be accepted as payment. It could be used to transact legal documents. It could be used to establish rights and privileges in political affairs and authority with government officials. We are given the name of Jesus immediately when we return to the House. It is His authority given to us, neither earned nor merited. It is the ring of belonging to the royal family.
Servants had no sandals. God gives us sandals to lift us above the level of the unshod servant to the status of sons. In the Old Testament, Moses was told to remove his sandals in the presence of God. Here in the New Testament sandals are fitted on our feet because we have the standing of Christ in the New Testament. Under the Old Covenant people could only stand on their own righteousness and that was not enough, even for a holy man such as Moses. We stand before God, in Christ, not in our works. Astonishingly, we have been granted the same standing before God as Jesus Himself, seated with Him at the right hand of the throne of God.
Lk 15:23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; Lk 15:24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
The House of God should be the place of a continual party with returning prodigals being greeted with grace, blessing and celebration.