Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 11 The Father Heart of God :- Series 2 . The parable of a Loving Father - Part 10

. The parable of a Loving Father - Part 10




Luke 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!’



We arrive today at our second last sermon in this series on the parable of a loving Father. The temptation is to recap much, but we do not have time for that. Just to remind you that the purpose of the parable is not to tell you the story the way you would have it unfold. It is told with purpose to the Pharisees and Scribes to show them how they are. The story is not so much about the older son in real day living or a logical situation, than it is about the Pharisees and Scribes, and the son now has to represent their thinking, and in their thinking there should be no party at all, and the Father should not eat with a sinner like the younger son.

Remember, their problem was that Jesus would eat with sinners.

So, last week we saw the older son, angry and embittered because there was a party for his brother. No matter which direction you come from to the story, his reaction would be the same. In the way that Jesus tells it, the Father can now entreat him, ‘parakaleo’ him to come in and share in the joy. But we saw his response. He has no respect for his Father, he stays close to home for his own reasons, and not because of his love for the father. We saw it in his shameful reply in 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.”

He does not address his father as ‘father’ but a disrespectful ‘look’ or ‘wakey-wakey’ or as we would say today ‘helooooooooooooooo’. Have you not noticed? And then the son reveals his true heart. We all think he worked at home on the farm with joy. He says that he was slaving away, and then he tells a blatant lie when he says that he has never broken one of his father’s commandments. You see, that is the mind of a Pharisee. It is ‘works’ and it is ‘law’. They believe they are perfect and do not need repentance. No wonder the Shepherd left the 99 who did not need a Shepherd to find the one lost sheep. All you have here is an angry, bitter, slave mentality seen in the older brother. The Pharisees do not realise that nobody goes into the Kingdom of God without repentance. Believe it or not. By nature your heart is wretched, your heart is wicked, your heart is alienated and your heart is selfish. They were blinded to that spiritual reality.

Just picture the Pharisees and the scribes in the synagogue or the temple.  They are nothing but religious sinners making a public display of affection for God, wearing clerical garb, or attending certain kinds of rituals or certain religious activities. They were moral on the public front, outwardly good, outwardly obeying the law, keeping all the rules. But no relationship to God, no concern for the honour of God, no joy, no understanding of grace.

And so we saw the shameful reply of the older son. But, he is not finished. His shameful reply is followed up by a shameful accusation.

2.4 A shameful accusation.

This Pharisaic son is now revealing his true colours. Not only does he disrespect his father in the way he addresses him, but he now accuses his father. For him, his father is unrighteous and the violator of moral standards. Look at Luke 15:29-30 (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.

2.4.1 First part of the accusation.

There are two angles here as far as his accusation is concerned. Firstly the usage of the word ‘never’. Don’t we also so often use it? You ‘never’ tell me you love me, you ‘never’ allow me …………..” Need I go on? This often goes hand in hand with ‘always’. Secondly it is the contrasting words. I don’t get a goat, he gets the fattened calf. So unfair. So the Father’s behaviour is judged on the basis of equitability, fairness, righteousness and justice, and his father fails on all those levels.

So, while the younger son, came to his senses and came home and asked for forgiveness, the older son will not ask for forgiveness for his attitude towards the Father. On the contrary, he expects an apology from the Father. That is the outrage of hypocrisy and that is the outrage of legalism. It demands repentance from all, but self. And the Pharisees and Scribes will identify with him, because for them, the father is the one who has completely violated all conventional standards of respect and honour.

Now, look at the hypocrisy. He accuses the Father of unjust favouritism, but look at his own words: “that I might celebrate with my friends.” He is clear, that if he were to have a party, it would not include his brother, and it would not include his father. You must remember that Pharisees looked down on their neighbour. Turn to Luke 18:9-14 (ESV) and spot the older brother or the Pharisees and scribes in the story, and spot the younger brother.9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. (Self-righteous law abider – is that not what we saw in the text) 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ (Aha- he slaves away and wants all to know it) 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ (I am not worthy to be called your son.) 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” The older brother exalted himself and he was left in the field by Jesus, but the younger brother humbled himself and guess what? He got a party.

Aha, the Pharisees will say. Jesus, you have it all wrong. It is the behaviour of the Father and the younger brother that are sinful, and we don’t eat with sinners. And here the son shows why Jesus left him in the field in the story, because by his own choice he lives in different world, he has a different group of friends, he has no relationship with the father and none with the brother. The party, and not being there for it, simply was an outlet to throw a tantrum that was always in his heart. He only parties with those who thinks like he does and who acts like he does and nobody else, especially not his fallen brother who came home. Like the Pharisee in Luke 18 he thinks he is above the rest.  

He doesn't understand the father's love, compassion, kindness, mercy, forgiveness and joy. He has no fellowship with the father. He is angry, resentful, jealous, envious, impenitent, and greedy. He thinks he's worked as a slave so long and what has he gotten? Nothing. And when he does get what he wants, it's not going to be a celebration with the family because he has no relationship to them. His father is nothing more than a slave master. He's going to have his own party with his buddies. So classic in his description of the Pharisees who associated only with themselves, as we have seen in other texts.

At this point, we start seeing the real heart of the older brother. He carries in him a long term resentment towards the Father, he actually wished his father were dead. What you see now, is not a justified reaction but the volcanic eruption of that which has been boiling underground all the time. The Father in the story is the true embarrassment. The Father did not function the way the older son or the Pharisees would and this was shameful.

Don’t we see many so called Christians like that? God the Father must do things their way, otherwise He is unfair or He simply does not exist. I want my party and my goat and my Father must provide, otherwise He is unloving.  The Father must get out of the picture, if He does not serve me on my terms.

2.4.2 The second part of the accusation.

“30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’”

Now remember in verse 29 he does not address his father as ‘father’, it is simply ‘look’ or ‘helooooooo’. Now we see him not being able to even address his brother as his brother, it is ‘this son of yours’. It sounds like an angry husband or wife saying: ‘you know what your son or daughter did today?’ You can cut the contempt with a knife in that statement. It is unkind, it is sharp, it is hurtful, it is as if he sticks a knife into his father’s heart and turns it.

Now, how does he know that his brother spent his money on prostitutes in gentile land? This reminds us again, that Jesus generates the story to expose the hearts of the Pharisees. So, Jesus puts it in there, and you and I cannot question the story that Jesus tells or how it should be told. If the audience was different, the story would have been different. So all the time, our focus has to be on the Pharisees and Scribes, and we interpret the story in the light of what we know about them.

So, here we have the paradox or the contrast in the story.

At the same time there in the light there is a party for the younger son, while out here in the dark the older son is having a pity party.

Inside, the younger son and the guests are celebrating the Father’s love and forgiveness, while outside the older son is attacking the virtue, the integrity and the character of his father.

Inside, the younger son is celebrating that all his sins of the past are now forgiven, and that he does not have to come to his father as a slave, but that he is restored as a son with all the rights and authority. Outside, all of the feelings and inborn hatred towards the father and saved sinners is revealing itself. Before it was hidden, it was masked, it was underground, but now it is revealed. His cover is blown.

Inside, they are honouring the Father, but outside contempt is poured upon his head, because the father did not behave in a way, his older son would have him do.

Outside are the Pharisees. They see themselves as righteous, they see themselves as just. They sit in judgment on God in Christ and they condemn Jesus for His mercy, compassion, love, and the gospel of grace. While inside, sinners, who know they are sinners, and are willing to repent are basking in grace.

In the mind of the older brother, his brother should be stoned based on Deuteronomy 21:18 for spending money on prostitutes. But instead of being dead he gets a party. This is incongruous. This is outrageous. This is shameful. Everything about it is shameful.

But the real shameful behaviour is with the older son, who does not understand forgiveness based on repentance.

Let me say this before I close, and then we are going to end with the song ‘we fall down and lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus.’ When we stand in glory we know that our reward is because of Him and that He alone is worthy of the praise.

This fattened calf, did not glorify the son. Whenever a sinner comes home, it is because the Father drew him. John 6:44 (ESV) 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” The Father deserves the praise, He is the reconciler, He is the one who poured out grace instead of wrath, He is the one who in Christ took our shame upon Himself.

Sadly, the Pharisees, the scribes and the older brother would not notice that. They are seeking glory, they are seeking reward because they have kept the law and they have slaved away in God’s kingdom.

And so it's really the father who is being celebrated, just as in the end, in heaven, the joy of heaven, the eternal joy of the angels and all the redeemed that gather around the throne of God and even the joy of God is the joy that comes to God Himself for being the reconciler. When we go to heaven, the direction of our praise isn't going to be toward the sinners, it's going to be toward the Saviour, and we will cast our crowns at His feet, because He alone is worthy.

So here is this great feast and all the celebration honouring the father. And here at the same time is this son who heaps dishonour on the father simultaneously. The party symbolizes all the sinners who have collected around God to honour Him for their salvation. And outside are the Pharisees who are heaping scorn upon the Father God in Christ, for saving people like you and me.


Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: - 8 March 2015