Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 11 The Father Heart of God :- Series 2 . The parable of a Loving Father - Part 8

. The parable of a Loving Father - Part 8

THE PARABLE OF A LOVING FATHER (PART 8)

 

http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Abba-Father.jpgLuke 15:25-30 (ESV) 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!’


Introduction.

We continue today with that which is commonly known as the parable of the prodigal son’. We have chosen to call it ‘the parable of ‘a loving Father’, as the motive for Christ telling this story to the scribes and Pharisees is to show them why He would eat with sinners. Behind the coming of Christ to this earth, is a Heart of our Father that loves and that rejoices in the salvation of the lost.

In reality, those who for their own theological reasons titled it the ‘parable of the prodigal son’ would have done better to call it the ‘parable of two prodigal sons’. They both were distant in their hearts from their father, the one in a ‘far land’ and the other one ‘right at home’. Too often we ourselves see the prodigals as the wayward out there in the world kind of people on drugs, drowning their sorrows in alcohol, loose living in discos etc. when they can be prodigals right here in our midst.

We have seen with the younger son how the Father acted in total contrast to the expectancy of the Pharisees and Scribes. This story is created for them. It is so that they can see themselves the way they truly are, and that they can see God the way He truly is. It is to help them understand why Christ would eat with sinners. We cannot ask any more questions from the story, and we cannot judge any motives, except for the way Jesus presents it. This story goes where Jesus wants it to go. We cannot change it, we simply need to ask, now why would Jesus say this or that, or why would He portray the Father in this way or that way? This we have done so far for seven sermons.

So, in the story, the prodigal son returns form Gentile Land and Jesus allows a party to start in the absence of the older brother. He leaves the older brother in the field, and I believe the reason is to show that this son was as much a prodigal as the younger son. It is the heart that creates the distance and not the terrain. When we looked at the first son, I mentioned that the betrayal of the Father happened in the heart long before he packed his bags. The same betrayal is in the heart of the older son, he just has not packed his bags yet, as it is convenient for him to be at home. The heart of the problem is the heart.

Now, I guess it will be truthful to ask, what would have happened if the Father asked the older brother to organise the party? Well, we cannot actually ask this question, as Jesus does not take the story there, but we know the Pharisees well, don’t we? So, I believe that the attitude of the older son would have been exactly the same.

So, with that said, let’s get back to verse 27 where we left off last week.

The son arrives home, and he asks a young boy what is going on as he hears the music and dancing. The young boy responds in Luke 15:27 (ESV) 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.’

Now in real terms, the excitement of his brother being home, should have overshadowed the fact that Jesus left him in the field in the parable, while the party was starting. He knew that his father loved both sons, he knew that they both scored on the dividing of the inheritance, he knew how his father looked out for his brother, he knew that his father would receive his brother back, and that a ring, shoes, robe, fattened calf and a party would be par for the course. Is this not how we know God? God does not ask how far you have fallen, whether it is in Gentile Land or the field on the farm. God cares whether you are willing to repent and to come home. But this Pharisaic brother’s worst nightmare just became true. His brother is home. Why? He thought he had Logos Community Church all to himself and God adds broken and fallen sinners who as babes in Christ still dirty their nappies with sin. This is just unacceptable.

There is something beautiful in the Greek here that is relevant and should excite us. The young boy says to the older brother in verse 27 that the Father had received the younger brother back “safe and sound”. That sounds strange, doesn’t it? This is an Old English colloquialism that originated in 1300 AD that simply means to be out of harm’s way while exposed to harm. The word sound makes no sense. It is simply an alliteration of the letter ‘s’ in both words. But the Greek is more interesting. The Greek word here is not two words but one namely  hugiaino {hoog-ee-ah'-ee-no} which means ‘to be well or in good health’. We get our English word ‘hygiene’ from this word. What is more interesting though is that in the Greek Translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint this word is almost always connected with ‘Shalom’ which means ‘Peace’ and the Pharisees knew that.  So, the Pharisees would understand that this son is not just received back in good health, but the Father received him in Shalom, he’s made peace, he is fully restored as a son, there is no rift between him and his father, and therefore there is a party.

 

Once again the Father’s behaviour is shocking to the Pharisees. This son squandered family resources, even blowing it on prostitutes, and now he is depleting more family resources, and he is the favourite guest at the party which is really a party to honour the grace of the Father.

 

Church family – that is the picture of heaven’s joy. God embraces sinners just as they are. Here is the New Testament version of what we are saying here. Romans 5:8-11 (ESV) 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.We were saved, we were reconciled, we are at peace and we have a party as the angels rejoice, but more than that we are now heirs again and we have sonship.

Sadly, legalists who thinks you earn your way to heaven don’t understand that God's joy is found in justifying the ungodly, that Christ's joy is found in forgiving the sinner who is bankrupt and has nothing to offer. Sadly, the older son, and the Pharisees will be filled with outrage, while our Father is filled with joy. This son like the Pharisees would be angry and he would not want to be part of this shameful event. His brother has shamed himself, the Father is shaming himself over and over by going against Jewish culture and Pharisaic expectations, and so we arrive at verse 28:28 But he was angry and refused to go in.” Not only has the brother shamed himself by his actions, and the father shamed himself in the way he forgave, but now the Father has gotten the whole community involved in this shameful celebration. And he as the older brother is not going to be a part of it so he becomes angry, throws his toys out of the cot and refuses to go in.

This brings us exactly to where our story started. The issue for the Pharisees was plain and simple. Why does Jesus eat with sinners? So they love the older brother, don’t they? He will not eat with sinners, he will not braai with sinners, he will not share a sport’s field with sinners, he will watch a movie with sinners and he will not tolerate the inclusion of certain kind of sinners into his church.  Pharisees just don’t understand that God's joy and God in Christ's joy was in receiving repentant sinners, prodigals, the immoral, and the outcasts. For a legalist, that's outrageous conduct, absolutely outrageous.

Even though this son was at home while his brother went to gentile land, he had no love for his brother, neither before or after, he had no love for his father, neither before or now. He did not defend his father when his brother demanded his part of the inheritance, neither does he do it now. It is all about him and his. It is not about the Kingdom of God and the lost. You see this same attitude reflected clearly in the lives of the Pharisees in John 11. Let me show this to you quickly. John 11:47-48 (ESV) 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.For them it is about their position, their place of worship, their nation, and they fail to see that God is redeeming unto Himself a people that are born again, blood washed and adopted into the family of God. There joy should have been everybody believing in Christ, because that is the Father Heart of Jaweh who they claimed to have as their father.

The older brother could not care two hoots that his brother left and he did not rejoice in having him back. We see this even in church life today, don’t we? Some members can leave the church and the leadership rejoices. But let another person, especially one with money leave, and he will be pursued. Sadly, many of these kind of Christians are actually prodigals, but they are prodigals at home. They love to play church, they love to control things, they love to play the game on the basis of man-made rules and they protect the institution rather than the Kingdom. For them the church is no more than a club. This is a typical religious hypocrite standing on the outside condemning the gracious work of salvation. He's angry. That's the only emotion he feels. And you know what? The Pharisees and scribes think it’s okay, as they would feel justified to share in that anger.

Legalists don't understand grace. They don't understand unmerited favour. They don't understand free and total forgiveness. They don't understand the removal of punishment. They don't understand somebody else bearing their shame, taking their scorn. They don't get that. And suddenly in this story, we now have a public display of private hatred. The hatred has been there all along, the right button was just not pushed for it to reveal itself. The agenda of getting rid of the brother was there long ago, the right opportunity did not reveal itself. Everybody thinks the older brother is the holy one, the just one, the righteous one, the faithful one, and even now as he reveals his hatred the Pharisees will still miss his sinfulness, because he is one of them, he is a brother to them and they will not condemn his behaviour at all.

This is religious hypocrisy. It's still in the world today, it's everywhere. They're all over the place. People who look like they hang around the house of God but they don't know the heart of God. They're trying to earn their way to heaven by playing church, through their traditions, good works, legalism and all of this is the greatest deception that Satan has ever invented and it is the characteristic of every false religion on the planet.

True children of God know that salvation comes only to those that are spiritually bankrupt, destitute, impoverished and fall on their faces as beggars before a God they trust will be willing to forgive them, and repent of their sins, and then they receive His lavish love and all that comes with it. But legalists don't like that. How can you do that when he didn't deserve it? It's all about what you deserve and what you earn and what you gain and how good you are. That is why we often say, that we are simply beggars telling other beggars where to beg, because we have discovered the real Father Heart of God, and it is our privilege to introduce others to the Father.

So the older son has the perfect opportunity if he chose to honour his father. But the truth is, he's a rebel. The difference between the two sons. The younger brother was an outward rebel, but the older brother is an inward rebel, and in the Kingdom of God they are more dangerous.

Just like his younger brother he is a sinner, desperately in need of the grace of the father. But he hides his sin, he masks it, he justifies it. He experiences the same lusts, the same desires, but because of his greater desire for honour and position, he finds ways to justify his sins, or he establishes laws that condemns others but somehow frees him. And so he's driven by pride more than he's driven by immoral things. But the immoral things are still there. And now all of a sudden we know that he hates his father and hates his brother. We know that he's indifferent to the recovery of his brother and indifferent to the compassion of his father. He can't rejoice with either one. And that's exactly the way the Pharisees were.

When you think about a hypocrite, you have to think a little more deeply than the surface. Hypocrites stay near the house of God. They hang around. They're religious. They're moral. They have no relationship to God. They have no desire to honour Him. They have no interest in His honour or heaven's joy. It's all about their own self-promotion thinking somehow they can earn their way into the good will of people and even God. Religious hypocrites do what's expected on the outside. They follow the external religious and moral patterns. But inside they're just filled with secret sins.

Jesus says that they are like white plastered tombs, beautiful on the outside but filled with rotting corpses on the inside. If you were to scratch under the surface you will discover that they are filled with pride, bitterness, hatred, jealousy, anger, lust and lack of forgiveness. The hypocrite is as lost as the son in Gentile land, because he spends his whole life convincing everybody just how good he is and sadly is a long way from admitting that he is actually wretched. The younger brother realised that he is wretched and he was willing to be taken back as a day servant. Pharisees don’t associate with that kind, they will not come to the party. Hypocrites are more deadly to any religious environment because they set a tone for the kind of conduct that kills spiritually and eternally.

Church family. Jesus came to save sinners, self-confessed, repenting sinners. Did you know that there are really only two kinds of sinners in the world? There are religious sinners and irreligious sinners.  There are moral sinners and immoral sinners. There are sinners that hang around the things of God and try to keep the Law, and those that run as far as they can and live in wild wasteful immoral living.

But the Father is there for both. Whatever kind of sinner you are, Jesus came into this world, born into this world in order to live and to die and to provide salvation for both kinds of sinners and all those in the mix in between.

That’s enough for today. We will continue next week.

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church:- 22 February 2015