Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 11 The Father Heart of God :- Series 2 . The parable of a Loving Father - Part 3

. The parable of a Loving Father - Part 3

The father heart of God (Series 2)

THE PARABLE OF A LOVING FATHER (PART 3)

 

http://crossfitarmoury.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Lost-and-found.jpgIntroduction.

Welcome back to Gentile Land. This is where we left off last week, where the prodigal son not after too many days from demanding his share of his father’s estate took his possessions and left to a distant country. We started our series looking at some critical background information, from there we moved to the Shameless Demand of the younger son. This has now led us to the Shameless Revolt, and that is where we continue today. Let’s just read again the first few verses to get us back into the story.

Luke 15:11-12 (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."

Let’s continue then with The Shameless Revolt.

Look at Luke 15:13 (ESV) 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.”

Here we have a son who demanded his part of the inheritance that was only due to him when his father dies. He comes storming in like a wave would roll into a ship and he demands his share, now, on his terms for his purposes. What he receives from his father is more than just riches. He receives ‘bios - bios’ which means the living or livelihood of the family. And now look at what he does with it. He arrives in Gentile Land and he throws it away, he scatters it, he squanders it. But on what?

Verse 13 tells us that he squandered it on ‘reckless living’. The KJV says “riotous living”, the NIV says “wild living” and the NAS says “loose living”.

The Greek words are 'asotos {as-o'-toce}' and ' zao {dzah'-o}' which literally means a dissipated life, a debauched life and a dissolute life. In the parable Jesus causes the older brother to say later that his brother “devoured his property with prostitutes.” (Luke 15:30 (ESV). Now remember again, this is a parable. There is no real father with two sons here. This is a message to the Pharisees and Scribes, and we go with the story wherever Christ takes us. So, the older brother is not surmising things in the story. Jesus is for a reason putting those words in his mouth.  Oh, just think of the heart break of the father. I give my son my livelihood, my life and he throws it away through reckless, riotous, wild and loose living even amongst prostitutes.

What a life? Sadly this kind of life misleads many people. I remember many years ago listening to the testimony of a man who was part of the Italian Mafia in the USA. You hanged onto his lips as he spoke of the power, the riches, the Cadillac’s, the girls and everything he enjoyed to hearts content. Other people’s lives meant nothing. You get in our way, we kill you. It is all about us, what we do and what we own. You had to prick yourself to wake up and listen to his conversion experience. That old life seemed so attractive.

This is exactly what this young man’s life represented. He is a picture of the kind of sinner that Jesus will eat with, the kind of sinner Jesus wants to save. They live amongst us today. They are dissolute, debauched, immoral, dissipated and they make no pretence of faith in God the Father or love for God the Father. These are the tax collectors and prostitutes of their time, they run from God, they hide from God and desire no relationship with Him. They do not darken the door of the church and are totally uncomfortable in the presence of believers. And they seem to get away with it. Right?

But sin does not always work out in real terms the way it seems on the surface.

Luke 15:14 (ESV) 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.”

The first part of verse 14 says: 14 And when he had spent everything…”

How many a man and how many a woman, has lived this kind of life. They arrive in town, they are high rollers, they are popular, they buy their friendships, they gather around themselves people who think that having money makes you cool, but in the end they are not real friends. They might be nothing more than riff-raff, scum and lowlifes and when your money runs out, they will run out as well.

Two things happen in this part of the story. Firstly, he now experiences devastation due to his own conduct. He blew it all. He took his father’s hard earned livelihood and he squandered it on a lifestyle with no value and no meaning. And now he sees the end of it, but a second thing happens. Look at the second part of verse 14: “a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.”

So, not only is he now facing the effects of his own loose living, but now he has to face that which he has no control over, namely what we will call, ‘an act of God.’ I don’t think any of us will even know what it is to experience not just a normal famine, but a severe one. You have pictures of this in the Old Testament when Israel was under siege and the famine was so severe that women secretly ate the afterbirth of their babies and they even cannibalised their children. You can read about this in Deuteronomy 28:57. That is severe people. There are stories throughout history where parents sold their children into slavery for food, other supposedly normal upright people would steal from one another by attacking one another like savages of the worst kind. All this, just for food.

This is a famine. I can tell you many gory stories of severe famine. But let me just say this. Even in Africa, entire villages have been wiped out due to severe famines. Severe famines bring about a level of desperation that's beyond anything that we can conceive of.

By now the Pharisees and the Scribes must be feeling the weight and the horror of this story. So, who eats with a sinner like this? For them, Jesus is actually shooting himself in the foot with this story as the horrific detail simply seems to undergird their concern with Christ. Sadly, they would like most, so focus on the young man, but Christ is actually telling them the parable of a loving Father.

How low can one go on? This man has gone from a wonderful place under a loving father in a generous environment, and look where he has ended. He is in Gentile Land, his money is gone, all his friends that he bought with his money are gone and he has no family and nowhere to turn. The party is over. Time to go home now. But sadly for him not yet, and this is the picture of a common sinner. I am not willing to humble myself, face the consequences of what I have done, put away my pride and apologise to the father, no, Frank Sinatra’s theology still reigns and I will keep on doing things my way.

So he does what most people tend to do when they hit bottom. The last part of verse 14 says: “and he began to be in need.”

And what is the solution? Sinners will keep on running from God. Why? Romans 8:7 (ESV) 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”

So, instead of running to God, I will find a solution, I will get a job, I will make money, I will bounce back, but if one thing is true - I do not need God in my life. This is so sad. This young man did not get what he wanted out of this escapade. He forfeited the pleasure of life in the Father’s home, and all he got was pain and unfulfillment and yet he goes further down this path.

He is now detached from his father and his brother and his home and his country, and what does he do? Look at Luke 15:15 (ESV) 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.”

So, detached from all he knew under his father, he now attaches himself to one of the citizens of that country. The citizens in those days were honoured people who were on the city roll. But look what he does in the words of Christ. Our translations say he attached, enjoined and hired himself out. But, the Greek word here again is of major significance. It is ' (kollao) which is ‘to glue’. The implication here is that it was not the other guy, the citizen’s idea. He was not welcome company. He simply became a beggar who saw his rescue in this man and he would not go away. I saw this in Israel, where a beggar attached himself to me. He was walking with me, touching me, hanging onto my coat, pulling my arm and begging and begging and he just would not go away. Eventually an Israeli soldier had to come to my rescue. The level of desperation is what causes people to do this. He attaches himself and the only grace he gets from this citizen is that he “sent him into his fields to feed pigs.”

 

Now picture this and put yourselves in the shoes of the Pharisees and Scribes. A Jewish boy, being a ‘servant of a gentile’ and not only that, ‘he is feeding pigs’ in ‘Gentile Land?’ Such scum. How low can you get? This guys is not in the gutters, he is under the gutter. But Pharisees and Scribes, that is not the end there is more. This guy is so down and out what does he do? Luke 15:16 (ESV)16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.” He was not just feeding pigs, but he was competing with them for their food source, and was unsuccessful as no one gave him any. Imagine this, here the pigs are crowding their food source, and here he is trying to get some of it as well, but he is still fighting a losing battle. Most believe that the pods that are spoken about here are carob pods. These pods comes from what is traditionally known as the carob tree, St John's-bread, or locust bean. In those days they would extract molasses from the beans and then the left over pulp would be thrown to the pigs. This is worse than eating Brussels sprouts and hardly anything can be worse than that. Nowadays, they make cocoa and chocolates from it for diabetic sufferers.  Others believe that these are prickly, wild pods that only swine’s snouts could reach. Whatever, he did not get any, and it was pig food.

What a sad picture. He had it all in the Father’s house, but he wanted life without responsibility, life without accountability, and he wasted his life. Now, picture how the Pharisees and Scribes would understand this story. This guy is not just feeding pigs, he has become one of them, as he desires to eat with them. We have a saying, “you are, what you eat”, right? You just cannot get any lower than this. It seems that this man was not even going to be paid a wage for his work, and neither was he successful even in eating pig slop. He longed, which means he had a strong desire, and that strong desire was not met. Oh that a man can fall that low. But church family these people live around us. They run away from God the Father, desiring the things of this world, but it will never satisfy.

For the Pharisees this is the greatest rebellion, the greatest breach, the greatest waste of a life, waste of an opportunity, this is the most despicable kind of conduct that they could conceive. And now he's even starving to death. He who had so much is now poor, hungry and hopeless.

What is the lesson here for today?

The lesson is that sin is rebellion or revolt against God the Father. It is not rebellion so much against His Law, it is more a rebellion against a relationship with our Heavenly Father. It is the violation of the Fatherhood of God, it is a violation of His love. Sure, sin is turning your nose up at God's Law, but it is more than that, it is turning your nose up for God's person, God's authority and God's will.

Sin is shunning all responsibility, all accountability. It is to deny God the Father His place. It is to hate God. It is to wish God was dead. It is to not love Him at all but to dishonour Him. It is to take all the gifts that He's surrounded you with in life and to squander them as if they were nothing. It is to run as far from God as you can get to give Him no thought, no regard and no concern. It is to waste your life in self-indulgence and debauchery and unrestrained lust. It is to shun all except what you want and it is reckless evil and selfish indulgence that ends you up in the pig slop, spiritually bankrupt, empty, destitute, nobody to help, nowhere to turn, facing eternal death. And then the foolish sinner exhausts all their own plans, I'll fix my own life, I'll take drugs or medication, I'll run to alcohol, I'll go to some self-help group, I'll move to a new neighbourhood, I'll marry a new person. When all that stuff is exhausted, the sinner wakes up at the bottom. And this is where the young man is, a shameless demand that simply leads to shameless revolt.

We have so much more to say on this, but let me say this today. The story is not remote, this is the story of every irreligious sinner, the story of every sinner who ran as far from God as they could get.  It's the story of the outwardly debauched, debased, immoral, self-indulgent, and lustful of all sinners who come to the point where it's over, it's ended, lost everything. Nothing has meaning, nothing satisfies. They're just fighting to survive. This is how it was with those tax collectors and sinners.

But praise God that there are those who realise that they are sinners and it's why they came to Christ, unlike the Pharisees and Scribes. Finally, they wanted to hear from the One who has the bread of life. They want to hear from the One who offers forgiveness. They want to hear from the One who said Father God will restore you, Father God wants to reconcile you, and Father God wants you back in His house. Like the sheep that was brought back, like the coin that was recovered, Father God is in the business of recovering destitute, washed-out, lonely, desperate sinners. This is where Abba Father finds His joy. This is where heaven rejoices, this is where we discover the true Father Heart of God.

And do we realise, that at one stage or another we were all there, and this was our story. But maybe today I am speaking to someone, and this is still your story. Come home to the Father today!

And this leads us to the positive side of this story. The shameless demand that led to a shameless revolt now leads to a shameful repentance. But, that is for next week.

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: 23 November 2014