Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 11 The Father Heart of God :- Series 2 . The parable of a Loving Father - Part 9

. The parable of a Loving Father - Part 9

The Father Heart of God (Series 2)

THE PARABLE OF A LOVING FATHER (PART 9)

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5yfa96hhgnQ/UG7F6aicufI/AAAAAAAAAug/SxUYbLdcf50/s1600/The-love-of-God-heart-ribbon.jpgIntroduction:

We turn once again to Luke 15 where we continue this story of a loving Father who has to deal with two rebellious sons. We see in the story two kinds of sinners. The one son in his rebellion left home to a Gentile land, but the other son stayed at home but his rebellion is seen in his heart towards his father and brother. He is outwardly religious but inwardly far from that. The rebellious son who left home is always easy to identify. It is the religious sinners, the hypocrites that so easily hide behind the masks of their religious pretence that are more difficult to identify. The irony of the story is that the one who openly disobeyed, the one who flagrantly dishonoured his father winds up being reconciled and the one who appeared to obey and honour his father ends up unreconciled.

Let’s read the text once again. Luke 15:25-32 (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!’

You will remember that this story is one of shame. It started with a shameful demand, and a shameful response, and a shameful rebellion, and a shameful repentance, and a shameful reception, and then in the eyes, of course, of the Pharisees who are listening to this story, the father gives a shameful reconciliation and a shameful celebration. We are still busy with that shameful celebration as we look at the second brother. So with the older brother we arrived last week at the reaction of the brother, and I want to join other theologians in calling it:

2.1 A shameful reaction.

We will thereafter have five more points namely, a shameful posture, a shameful reply, a shameful accusation, a shameful response, and a shameful resolution and then we are through with this series. So, what is the shameful reaction? We saw it last week in verse 28:  28 But he was angry and refused to go in.”

It is at this point that we have the best demonstration of the Pharisees themselves. They were consistently angry with Jesus. They were angry that he associated with sinners, embraced sinners, forgave sinners and reconciled the wicked outcasts with the Father.  They were continually outraged by the conduct of Jesus associating with sinners, which indicated they had no idea of the Father heart of God, no understanding of God as a Saviour, and no understanding of how heaven rejoiced in the salvation of sinners. Remember when Jesus went to eat at the house of Zacchaeus in Luke 19, we read in verse 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” Like the older son the Pharisees and Scribes don't believe in grace. They don't believe in forgiveness. They believe in righteousness and justice and restitution. And you earn your way back. There's no such thing in their system as free forgiveness as the removal of punishment apart from any works. It has to be earned. You earn your place with God. You keep the law. You tow the line. This is the same damning lie that holds the religious world captive and sends them all plummeting into hell. Many of us have grown up in extreme legalistic environments, where Christians made laws day by day by which your were micro-managed. Some of those were sincere and borderline Pharisees and believed they were doing good. Don’t think for a moment that these Pharisees and Scribes were insincere and thought that they were doing bad. In their book they were protecting the honour of JHWH and the Law.

If there is one verse we can quote to the angry brother and the Scribes and Pharisees on this day, as they refuse to go in to eat with repentant sinners, then it is the words of Christ in Matthew 23:13 (ESV) “13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.”

Later on Jesus says to them in Matthew 23:28 (ESV) 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Hypocrites are all sinners on the inside because hypocrisy has no way to constrain the flesh internally. The Pharisees resented grace and one thing we must always realise is that: "Free will without grace has the power to do nothing but sin."

Do we realise, that this is actually what the Reformation was all about? Martin Luther identified that the Catholic Church was exactly where these Pharisees were. Catholicism became work based, repentance became work based. Favour with God was earned. Martin Luther realised that the heart of the gospel from a Biblical perspective was salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Sadly, many of the offspring of the Reformation fell back into the same kind of legalism just on another level.

Now, let me just say this. None of us are against good works, are we? Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) says:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

That is not the issue. Works are good as they help people, they relieve people’s suffering and they are charitable. But works done as a means to salvation is actually sin as the true motive is self-glorification and not the glory of God. And anything that is not done to the glory of God is done then to the glory of man and that is the sin of all sins. They are really expressions of human pride. Good works as a means to salvation always prevents a person for seeing himself as he really is. The self-deception simply grows deeper and deeper. Good works apart from grace simply feeds pride, it feeds hypocrisy and it gives us a false hope, but it cannot change a sinful heart. It is simply an outward appearance.

So, now we see what is in the heart of the older son. He was angry and refused to go in.

But, we turn our attention once again to the father.

2.2 A shameful posture.

Luke 15:28 (ESV) 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him,”

This is such a short statement, but it is rich. I just love this father. Once again he is the initiator. We remember with the younger son how the father left his home, ran through the village for all to see, bearing scorn and shame,  violating public common conventional behaviour, so that he can protect his younger son from shame.

Now, we see the father leave the party in full view of everybody, once again to entreat and to restore a sinner. This is our Father people, this is our Father in Jesus Christ entreating sinners to come home in their hearts.

The Father knows he has a second rebel son and we're now going to find out how God feels about religious hypocrites. The community would have expected the father to be outraged by the older son’s behaviour, in spite of the Pharisees justifying his behaviour. This son’s behaviour is an absolute insult to the father's honour and the father's joy. He neither loves his father or brother. And the traditional Middle Eastern response would be to take the son and give him a public beating for such dishonour.

But nothing goes the way you'd think it's going to go in this story. It's just one breach of perceived honour after another after another, after another, after another. But instead of the father ordering him to be beaten and locked in a room somewhere until he can be dealt with, the insulted dishonoured father comes out. And he starts begging him. Here he shows up again in condescension. Here he shows up again in mercy. Here he shows up again in compassion and love and humility and kindness, leaves the party, comes out with everybody watching and the buzz sure is going to go through the crowd and they know what's going on. Another act of selfless love kindly toward this son in the same way that he ran to embrace the younger son. He goes out in mercy and he reaches to the hypocrite the same way he reached to the young rebel.

I want you to notice the word "entreating" there. I just love this. It says that he began entreating him. The Greek word is  (parakaleo) “to call alongside or to exhort or to encourage”. Now, I have said this time and again. This is the exact word that is used in a noun form for the Holy Spirit. He is our paraklytos. So, if that is how the Spirit of God works, well then what else do you expect from the Father in the story in relation to the son at home?

Church family. This if our Father. He is not in the business of just punishing left right and centre. He is not looking out to find somebody He can beat with a stick. He reaches out to those lost in the world and He reaches out to those lost in the church. He reaches out to those asleep in darkness and He reaches out to those asleep in the light. He reaches out to angry sons, and He reaches out to the Pharisees and scribes.

So, here is this wonderful compassionate grace of God reaching out to these angry hypocrites. He is always ready to ‘parakaleo’ us, to call us alongside Himself, to council us, to restore us.

And this brings us to the shameful reply of the older son.

2.3 Shameful reply.

Now, remember, the story goes where Jesus takes it. Christ tells the story in a particular way and on purpose. Now, I want to show you something. Remember when the younger son came home. What was his opening line to the Loving Father?

Luke 15:21 (ESV) 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.’”

How does the older son address his father? Look at Luke 15:29 (ESV) 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.” In Jewish culture, you did not address your father starting with the word ‘look’. This is totally disrespectful. He is not treating his father as father or even his equal, he is talking down to him. How did Jesus teach His disciples to pray? Did He start with “look, give us this day our daily bread?” No, He starts with ‘our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be your name’. Every time Jesus prayed to His Father He would respectfully address Him as ‘Father’. The Spirit cries with our spirit, ‘Abba Father’.

Starting with ‘look’ shows no respect. Now, watch the attitude of this son. ‘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.” The word ‘served’ here is literally the word ‘slave’ from  douleuo {dool-yoo'-o}. That is the legalist mentality, which is a no-fun, no-joy posture. I serve the Lord as a slave to earn brownie points, and I just do not get them.

This reveals service with the wrong attitude. And do you realise we can be guilty of the exact same. Do you realise we can serve just like that. Our men who since March 2012 have helped to set up this place every Sunday morning from 08:00 can so easily be disgruntled and say: “look, I am now tired of having to do this Sunday after Sunday with no physical reward, when others icluding that other son of yours simply enjoys a party.” Our ladies on tea can say the same: ‘look, here I am slaving away, Sunday after Sunday giving others to drink and eat. I am now tired of slaving away for God so many Sundays a year, it is time for my reward.” But do you realise if we did that, we are no different than the older son.

Remember the younger son in the beginning was exactly the same: ‘give me, give me, give me’. Finally he came to his senses and what does he say: “make me a slave”. The older son, has exactly the same problem. He classifies himself as a disgruntled slave who did not get what he wanted on his terms. The one son left home to get what he wanted, the other one just hung around to get what he wanted. But neither, valued the joy of serving their Father freely. The one son wanted freedom and became a slave but arrived at his ultimate freedom, the other son already was a slave in his own eyes, but he never embraced freedom.

And then if you want to know the self-image of a hypocrite, here it is, "and I never disobeyed your command,” Wow! Now if that isn't the language of a self-righteous hypocrite, I don't know what is.

How many Christians don’t we know who think they are not sinners? Or, at least their sin is never as bad as yours. Remember the rich young man in Matthew 19 and Luke 18. Jesus says, "Here are the commandments," and he responds by saying, "I've kept them all.’ Here is the proud hypocrite. Here is the guy who because he has done ‘good’ is under the illusion that he is good and he is deceived because deep down he is a sinner.  And he lives with this illusion that he has never ever neglected a command that his father had given him.

Here and in Matthew 19 and Luke 18 we see the amazing self-deception of a hypocrite. They think they are perfect and above the rest, because they keep a few of their own created laws, and you don’t. They sadly have become blinded in their own pride and have no clue what true perfection, true righteousness, true justice and true honour is. They think they have it all and in their snobbishness they are deluded regarding themselves. In their books, even God the Father has lost the plot, in the same way in which this father’s behaviour was nothing but shameful. As far as perfection is concerned, the older brother thought he was perfect and his father not, which we will see in his next statement starting with an accusation: “yet you never gave ……”

This is the typical hypocrite. Works are done for the sake of reward, and grumbling all the time while doing it. Do you know Christians like that? Are you like that? Or, are you willing to serve for the sake of your love for God, and your gratitude towards Him.

For the sake of time I will stop here today. We should finish this series next week. But let me end by reminding you. Friend, it does not matter if you are a sinner in gentile land, or a sinner at home, Abba Father is calling you alongside Himself and He is entreating you to come home and to be restored in your heart. Whether you are a rebel in a distant land or a rebel at home, he cares for you. You might be disgruntled away from home or disgruntled at home, but the Father is entreating you to be restored in your love for Him and the lost.

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: 1 March 2015