Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 11 The Father Heart of God :- Series 2 . The parable of a Loving Father - Part 2

. The parable of a Loving Father - Part 2

THE PARABLE OF A LOVING FATHER (PART 2)

http://www.ruforgiven.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/love-of-God-3-300x225.jpgIntroduction.

Last week we focussed on some of the background that will help us understand this story in context. We saw the continuous struggle between Jesus and the Pharisees and Scribes. Their total concern was to discredit Christ and the best way to do it was to judge Him on the basis of the company He keeps. Jesus eats with sinners, and they don’t, and so they criticise Him on the basis of the company He keeps which is all a sign that Jesus was doing what He did through the power of Satan.  Christ now through three parables will expose their own hearts and at the same time try and get them to understand the fact that He came for the very purpose of seeking to save the lost. He did not come to play religion-religion with a bunch of self-righteous people. The third parable is then what we are busy with which is commonly called the Parable of the prodigal son. However, for this sermon series we are talking about the “Parable of a loving Father”. So, we continue today where we left off last week, and we are looking at his “shameless demand”. But before we do that, let’s now read the whole story keeping some of the background in mind.

Luke 15:11-32 (ESV) 11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. 25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ”

We continue with the shameless demand and again we will see something about the Father Heart of God as we see the father in the story that clearly represents our heavenly Father and how He in the story of Christ interacts with the sons. Now we must remember that this is a parable, so we simply go where Christ takes us as it is His parable, but we must understand it in the context of the Middle Eastern ancient world, as Christ knows who He is speaking to.

Now look at verse 12:12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ Some translations say “my share of the estate”. The Greek word here is tas ousia {oo-see'-ah}’. This is the only place where it is used in the whole of the New Testament. Now, let me explain why this is important. Firstly, when there are two sons or more, as Jesus gives us in this story, there was a special way in which an inheritance was divided. The first born always scored. Deuteronomy 21:17 (ESV) 17 but he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the firstfruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his.The firstborn always got two thirds irrespective whether the wife he was born from was unloved.

But, secondly, there is a real issue here? Normally when it came to an inheritance they would use the word ‘kleronomia’ When this word is used then there are certain terms and conditions to the inheritance. That means that with your estate there comes responsibility as you will manage the estate and grow the estate for future generations.  So with ‘kleromonia’ came responsibility and accountability. The word that Jesus uses however ‘tas ousia’ simply means that the son wants none of that. He wants his material possessions now. He basically says to his father. I cannot wait till you are dead, so give me my stuff now, land, animals, buildings, and money, whatever. I want it for me and I want it now irrespective of what it does with the present household. I care zippo for my father and brother and others who depend on this household. I demand what’s mine now, because life is all about me.

The Pharisees and Scribes must clearly understand what is going on here. They are observing a son who wants freedom, independence and distance. He wants to go as far away from the father’s restraints as he possibly could. Have you seen Christians like this? We know that those who are still lost in their trespasses and sins are still like this. And over time we will see that Israel was like this, and many people who claim today that they are Christians are exactly like this. It is all about me, my needs, my wants, my desires, my rules and my entertainment. I take my Heavenly Father and the blessings I receive from His hand and from His people for granted, and I want to enjoy it without constraints. Their favourite theologian is Frank Sinatra. Why? “I’ll do it my way”. But when the paw-paw hits the fan, I know where to run back to. But, let’s not go ahead of our story.

Now, by the way. According to Jewish culture, the father had all the rights to say to his sons; ‘listen, one day when I die, this will be yours, and that will be his’, ‘so in the meantime I want you to look after that portion, grow it, work with it, but it will never be your possession until I die.’

But we know that the younger son is not asking for that. He is not asking for what he will get in the future. He cannot wait for his father to die. Now, as I said last week, the father could merely slap this son in the face, they can take him out of the village, throw stones at him and drive him away, and they could have a funeral. Because based on Jewish custom, this father is dishonoured. For the Pharisees this picture is clear. Here is a son that should be rebuked, put to shame, punished and dismissed from the family and the village.

Now, in the midst of this ‘shameful demand’ Jesus now puts the Father Heart of God on display. Look at the next part of verse 12. Luke 15:12 (ESV) “12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them.”

Now notice two things here. This son does not ask. There is no ‘may I have?’  We all know that in the Lord’s Prayer we pray: “give us this day our daily bread” is posted without a question mark, or the polite words, ‘can I please have’ or ‘may I’. But there is a difference here. We are asking for our daily bread. But this son asks for the share that is coming to him, or that falls to him. The Greek word here is  epiballo {ep-ee-bal'-lo} which is ‘to rush in.’ This word was used when waves would rush into a ship. It is unwanted, and without permission the waves would seize the ship, or take over the ship. So the word was used further for seizing a prisoner or laying hold of something. This son simply says, it is mine and I will seize it, like a wave will seize a ship.

 

But here is the critical thing that will shock these Pharisees and Scribes. You expect the next phrase to be. So the Father slapped him, told all the villagers about it, they chased him away with stones and they had a funeral. The son does not ask, on the contrary he comes with a ‘shameless demand’ but the Father gives. He divides his wealth. I am sure you could pick the faces of the Pharisees and Scribes up from the ground.

 

But here comes the bigger shocker for the Pharisees and Scribes. Verse 12 says that the father ‘divided his wealth’. Guess what the Greek word is here? The normal Greek word would have been πλοῦτος (ploo’-tos’) which means wealth, but Jesus again with purpose uses another word namely  (bios) which means ‘life’. That is why the KJV translates it in such a way indicating that the “Father divided his living”. He divided that which was his life, which generations have produced. He divided that which represented him. And he did not do it so that they can each take responsibility over it till he dies, no, he gave it. The son demanded his dad’s whole living so that he could squander it in his living. That is always the sign of a prodigal, they will take away your living so that they may live.

 

At this point, the Pharisees would expect the father to slap his son, but rather than slap him across the face for his insolence, the father grants him what he wants. The Father Heart of God is on display, and he extends to him, his freedom because he is willing to endure the agony of rejected love. And this is the agony that's the most painful of any personal agony, the agony of rejected love. The greater the love, the greater the pain when that love is rejected. This is God. This is God giving the sinner his freedom. There's no law in the customs of Israel that would forbid a father to do this. He's not doing this because he thinks this is best. He's giving the sinner who denies the power of his relationship with his father freedom.

Turn with me to a section of Scripture that I like to call the story of all the combined prodigals. We see this in Romans 1 don’t we?  Romans 1:21-26 (ESV) 21 For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions.” You want to be free, God will give you your freedom, but with freedom comes consequences.

The sinner has no relationship to God whatsoever. Doesn't love God, doesn't care about God, wants nothing to do with God, nothing to do with the family of God, wants nothing to do with the future of the family of God, wants no accountability to God, wants no interest in God, doesn't want to answer to God, doesn't want to submit to God, doesn't want any kind of relationship at all. In fact, he has none. And God in the agony of rejected love lets the sinner go.

Well, step 1 for the son was to get his part of the estate. But there was a step 2. Up to now we have looked at the shameless demand, but now we look at.

1.2 The shameless revolt.

Now it does not take long for the revolt. Look at verse 13: 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.”

This is a one man army in rebellion. I need to say something at this point. Even though we are shocked at the young man’s revolt within a few days, we must realise that the revolt started in his heart long ago. It is like Judas. Judas betrayed Christ in his heart, long before he betrayed Him publically. This young man has been waiting for this day for a long, long time. He's sick of being in the father's presence. He's sick of having any accountability or relationship with the family. He has no love for his father. He has absolutely no love for his older brother either and his older brother has no love for him. And, by the way, as a footnote, the older brother has no love for the father either. But more about that later.

So the father basically has no relationship with either son. These are two kinds of people who have no relationship with God. One is irreligious and one is religious. One is as far away from God as he can get. The other is as close as he can be, but both do not enjoy a relationship with the Father.

But, let’s get back to the younger son.13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.” Literally that says he turned it all into cash. Technically he could sell the property. Once it was given to him, even though the father still had some oversight and could get the interest off it and they couldn't actually take possession of it until the father died, there was a loophole, there was an out in the ancient tradition and that was this, he could sell it to somebody who would buy it, but not take it until the father died. It is very similar to what we see in our modern world where people buy ‘futures’. I invest in something now which will pay dividends later. This kind of system was already in place. And whoever bought from this son, ten to one got a bargain, as he was desperate to sell.  Even in those days you would find somebody who is more than happy to hold on to the value of that property and wait the years until that man dies and then take it and put it into his own family's estate and future.

This is the foolishness of the typical sinner. He wants to get away from God and he wants to do that now.  He wants no accountability to God. He sells cheap all of the opportunities that God has provided for him, all the good gifts, all the gospel opportunities, all of the fellowship he could enjoy with believers, everything that's good that God has put into his world. All that goodness and forbearance of God that's meant to lead him into a relationship with God he spurns and once he gets his cash, you see what happens in verse 13, "took a journey into a far country,”

“Far country” in this context simply means the ‘gentile lands’. You cannot in a Jewish context scorn the love of your Father more than going to a gentile land. This is the ultimate way to squander everything you have in a land where nobody knows you. There is simply no accountability. It is like the Christian couple who changed towns. He came back from work on his first day and said ‘good, nobody knows that we are supposed to be Christians, so now we can let our hair down as we always wanted to’. Prodigals in making, right?  This conduct was worthy of that family funeral. Not only is he dead to the family, but he is now dead to the community and dead to the nation and what they stood for. Israel was supposed to be a Theocracy under God. This man just gets out from under everything.

As we end today there are again a few questions we need to ask.

Do we maybe identify with one of the sons so far? I know our focus so far is on the younger son, but where is the older son in the picture. There is no indication that he is taking his father’s side. The younger son wants to get out of the house, the older one wants to stay in the house, but they both have relational problems with their father. The question today is this. Would I be happy if I could just get everything I can from God, but I want very little to do with God? Would I rather spend my time around the gentile land, than God’s land where God’s people dwell? Simply this? Are you more comfortable in the world than amongst God’s people and around God’s word? If you are, then you need to ask yourself if you are a prodigal in making. You might already have started denying God in your heart, all you need to do is to do it publically. But, I have good news for you. Jesus welcomes sinners, and He will eat with you, now and forever. Come back to Jesus now, before it is too late.

So far, I present to you a loving generous father who's provided massive gifts to two sons, a Father who is willing to endure the agony of rejected love. One is a flagrant rebellious irreligious sinner, the other is a religious one who stayed home but neither of them has any relationship to the father or to each other. They both hate each other and the father.

 

Next week we will see the son and his experience of gentile land.

 

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church:- 16 November 2014