Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Non-series Sermons by Year 2021 Sermons . No Greater Love . No greater love (Part 11)

. No greater love (Part 11)





We finally reach the end of a series in which we have focussed on the “Parable of a loving Father”. Our story comes from the section commonly known as the Parable of the prodigal son. There were actually two prodigals, the younger one in Gentile land, caring for pigs and desiring to eat their food, and the older one who was simply in the field while he enjoyed the luxuries at home. But both were prodigals, and both were equally far from the father in their hearts. Bottom line, you can be a church member and faithful in attendance week after week and still be lost. Being religious does not mean that you are born again and therefore a Christian.


The basis of the story told by Jesus was the criticism of the Pharisees and Scribes that Jesus eats with sinners, while they would not. Christ tells them this story to expose their hearts as they should identify themselves with the older brother. Throughout the story the three role players do shameful things, depending on your prejudice. The father acts totally out of form as far as the Pharisees and Scribes are concerned. Now we do not have time to repeat all the shameful things, so you need to go back on my notes on our website.


Just to get us back into the context, let’s read: Luke 15:25-28 (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…”

In the last devotions we saw a shameful accusation, levelled by the older brother, representing the Pharisees and Scribes against the father. We saw this accusation in 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. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’”


The older son shows no respect for his father or his brother, and declares with great boldness that his friends (fellow Pharisees and Scribes) are what counts in his life. He might live in the home of his father, he does participate in the blessings and graces poured out from the father, but he has no interest in the father. His place in the household is all about him and what he can gain out of his presence in the house.


Just a reminder again that this story is Jesus’ story. It is not really about a farmer and two sons. It is about the Pharisees and Scribes. Therefore we do not get to edit the story. We simply have to read it the way He told it to discover His message for the Pharisees and Scribes of that day. They have already declared that they would not eat with sinners, and so Jesus designs a cultural story to show them their problem and their sinfulness.


And so, we get to another shameful deed from the father as far as the villagers would be concerned.


2.5 A shameful response from the Father.

Look what the father says to the older son. Luke 15:31 (ESV) 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours”.


What a tender response. Such a response would be shameful in the eyes of the villagers. This son has now shown his true heart and embarrassed his father in public. As far as they are concerned the father should slap this guy and chase him away from home. This mercy and grace demonstrated by the father is simply becoming too much for all and sundry. As far as the Pharisees are concerned his mercy and grace towards the younger son would be over the top, and as far as the villagers at the party are concerned, his mercy and grace towards the older son is over the top.


Now, I want to show you something interesting from the Greek. Eight times the word ‘son’ appears in the parable up to now and every time the Greek word  huios {hwee-os'}  is used which is the more formal word for son. It is used for both sons.



Now, why would Jesus suddenly use another word? He addresses the older son with the Greek word  teknon {tek'-non} rather that ‘huios’ that has appeared every time. Teknon is a more endearing affectionate address filled with love and mercy. Once again Jesus reveals the Father Heart of God. The same father that was willing to show love and mercy to the younger brother now offers it to the older brother. The same heart of the Father towards the lost goes out to wretched hypocrites. “Technon’ reveals the heart of the father in endearing terms, and this father’s heart based on context speaks of a grieving, painful, agonizing, compassionate, loving, and merciful heart.



God sees us as His ‘teknon’, beloved sons and daughters, and he cares for us, and His heart breaks when we fall while being in the house. He does not categorise our sins the same way we do with the sins of others. Pharisees want to crucify the sexual immoral, but will tolerate, anger, hatred, slander, and other sins which are on their ‘not so bad’ sins. They have not yet read James where he says that if you have broken one of the laws, you have broken all of it. God merely sees a sinner, whether in a far away land or at home. Paul reminds us that the more we sin, the more the grace of our Father becomes, shall we therefore continue in sin? No way’s, we are dead to it, but we all face the struggle between the flesh and the Spirit, and God reaches out to His children to be reconciled, to seek forgiveness. Remember the words of John in 1 John 1:9 where he tells us that if we as children of God, confess, Abba Father is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.



So, while the older son wanted to celebrate with his friends only, the Father is willing to reach out to both prodigals. Now remember, a short while ago the son could not even utter the word ‘father’ from his lips. He starts with ‘look’, ‘heloooooo’, ‘wakey, wakey’, ‘are you blind’, have you not seen my slaving away in this house and law keeping to the hilt? But the Father in turn does not do the same. He addresses him as ‘son’ in the most endearing terms.



Jesus here, shows the Pharisees and Scribes that God the Father is a loving, compassionate and merciful Saviour as revealed in Jesus Christ? I wish we had time for this. But remember in John 1 we see that Jesus is the Logos, the Word that became flesh, and He came to exegete the Father, to expose the Father, to be the Father’s Word of the Father’s heart to us. Sadly, the son in the parable uses no title, no respect. The son attacks the virtue, the integrity, the justice and the righteousness of the father. The son is saying in effect, "You need to be forgiven by me for the outrageous and unjust and dishonourable conduct that you have perpetrated." And here you see the patience of God with the sinners, even hypocrites.



Sometimes it's easier to be patient with prodigals than it is with hypocrites. We all love a great story about a wicked, outrageous sinner who is converted, but we are not nearly as excited about a hypocrite that is converted.


And, also, that is even rarer. People who are in false religion or false foundations don't come as often and as easy. It is interesting to note that we don’t read in any of the four gospels that a Pharisee is saved. We imply that Nicodemus was saved sometime before the death of Christ as he helped with the preparation of the grave of Christ and he spoke up for Christ amongst the Pharisees. We do know that Paul was a Pharisee and we read about his salvation in Acts. Pharisees have been around the house of God and the Word of God all their lives. They have tasted true religion, but it never reached their hearts. And so today we see many, many people around the church, participating in works, hearing the Word, even abiding by laws, but their hearts are far from God. They rather seek position than a relationship. So, they are around. That is why the father can say: “‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours”.


Now, there is something we must realise that is critical in this statement. The Father shows the same grace to all kinds of sinners. We must not see the wicked, fallen sinner in gentile land as any worse than the wicked fallen sinner at home. This son has no excuse, he has been around the faith, he has seen grace at work, and he has seen faith at work. If he wanted a relationship with the father, all he had to do was fall down on his knees like the younger son and plead for mercy. So, the father is saying to the older son: “If you ever wanted a relationship with Me, I was here and everything I have was here”. He does not have to split up the inheritance. All sinners equally become joint heirs in Christ. There is no rank and file.  And here's the picture of the generosity of God and the endlessness of His grace and His resources, it's all for all who come to Him. You’ll never earn it, it will never be yours by works.  But it is here if you ever want to establish a relationship with me.


And, then we see the story going back to where it started. Now, this is beautiful, watch it carefully, and behold the Father heart of God, understand why Jesus eats with sinners, even with hypocrites, hence the story of the lost sheep and the lost coin. Look at the next words: Luke 15:32 (ESV) 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”


Look at those words ‘it was fitting’. The KJV says that ‘it was meet that’, but I just love the NAS and NIV in this regard. They say: “we had to.” It is not a matter of, ‘father why do you celebrate the return of this wicked son?’ and the father could respond ‘because I wanted to, or because I can.’ The father’s answer is so accurate in displaying the Father heart of God. God has to celebrate, the angels have to celebrate, heaven has to celebrate, and all saints have to celebrate. Why?  Because that is the nature of God and heaven and His kingdom.  They had no choice, because this is what causes joy to God. This is heaven's joy. It can't be restrained. It can't be delayed. It can't be postponed. It can't be subdued. It can't be mitigated. It can't be lessened. Divine joy is released when one sinner repents and is reconciled.


And heaven's joy will be released not just for a prodigal, not just for someone who's immoral and irreligious and blatantly sinful, but for secret sinners, rebels, the religious, the moral, the hypocrites, the ones whose lawlessness is all on the inside.


I reminded you yesterday that and heaven's joy will be released not just for a prodigal, not just for someone who is immoral and irreligious and blatantly sinful, but for secret sinners, rebels, the religious, the moral, the hypocrites, the ones whose lawlessness is all on the inside.


God and Christ are saying here, and I quote John Mac Arthur:

"I go out into the street for the prodigal and I go out into the courtyard for you. I humble Myself and take on public shame for the prodigal. And I humble Myself and take on public shame for you. I come with compassion and love and forgiveness and I am ready to embrace you and to kiss you and to give you full son-ship with all its privileges, not just if you're the prodigal, but even if you're the hypocrite."


He's really inviting him to salvation. You can come to the party if you choose, if you recognize your true spiritual condition, if you come home you can take possession of everything that's always been there.


The younger son was overwhelmed with his father's grace. He immediately confessed his sin, confessed his unworthiness in the very most magnanimous ways and he received instantaneous forgiveness, reconciliation, son-ship and all the rights and privileges that the father had at his disposal to give. He entered into the celebration of the father's joy which is eternal salvation.  And that joy goes on in heaven forever.


The older son is offered the same tenderness, the same kindness, the same mercy, the same grace but he reacts with bitter resentment, attacks the virtue and the integrity of the father. And his father makes one final appeal. "My child, it's all here. We had to celebrate and by implication, if you would just bow you knees before the same heavenly Father heaven will celebrate for you, if you too will come."

Now, we get to a grand finale of this story.

Now, look in your Bibles. The story stops where? It stops right there in verse 32. Remember those movies where there is no ending. You leave and you have to decide the ending in your heart. I heard of a movie that was released a while ago, and suddenly the movie stops and you can choose through a menu item whether you want a happy ending or a sad ending. So you click on a block with the ending of your choice.


So what happened, what did this son do? We know that the party went on inside the house. There is great rejoicing there. But why does Jesus not tell us what happened further, why does he not give us the final scenario. The Pharisees are waiting, the guests are waiting, why stop, finish the story Jesus. Let us see if there is another shameful deed of the Father here.


Wouldn’t it be nice to see the son on his knees before the father and then enjoying an embrace, a kiss, a ring for his finger, a robe for him, shoes for his feet and a fattened calf. It would be from the perspective of the guests. Wouldn’t it me marvellous to see the Father at the centre of the table with his two sons sitting on his side. Wouldn’t it be marvellous to see the two brothers embracing one another?


Why stop? Has Jesus lost the plot? I believe that Jesus stopped right here for a very specific reason. And we will see the reason in our last point, which we can now call:


2.6 A shameful finale.

There is no grand finale, it is a shameful finale.


Now, we must remember that this parable is told to the Pharisees and the Scribes. They got the message, didn’t they? Jesus will not end the story, because the end of the story is based on their response.


Instead of giving them an ending, Jesus now ignores the Pharisees and Scribes who are still listening and in chapter 6 he tells his disciples a parable of a dishonest manager who serves God and money, and then we for the first time see the Pharisees respond again and Luke 16:14 (ESV) says: 14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him.”


What should have happened is that after the parable of the lost sheep, and the lost coin, and the lost son, or as we have entitled it, ‘the parable of a loving father’, and after the parable of the dishonest manager in chapter 16, the response of the Pharisees should have been ONE OF REPENTANCE, instead of ‘they ridiculed him’.  It should have read:  "The Pharisees seeing his father's love, compassion and grace came to their senses about their wicked hearts, were humbled, and they repented and were reconciled."

But you know what? That is sadly not how the story ended. Who wrote the end? The Pharisees wrote the end. Here's the end they wrote. AND THIS IS BIG!!


"And the older son being outraged at his father, picked up a piece of wood and beat him to death in front of everyone." That's the ending they wrote. That's the cross and that's what they did just a few months after this. And, by the way, they congratulated themselves on their righteous act that preserved the honour of Israel and Judaism and true religion and God.


The very Father who could have beaten both His sons, is beaten to death by the older son. This is the greatest act of evil the world has ever seen. And yet, out of that horrible ending of the killing of the Father in His Son Jesus Christ with wood came our redemption. The final shameful resolution of the story is the cross but out of that God has wrought our redemption for on that cross He died to bear our sins and what the leaders of Israel meant for evil, God meant for good.


And so, my friend, in your case, I have two questions for you.


  1. Which brother are you?
  2. How does your story end?


You have the responsibility to write that last section. Are you enjoying a party, or are you crucifying the son anew by trampling his blood which was shed for you into the ground.


And so, after 11 sermons, I trust that we understand the Father Heart of God as seen in the parable of a loving Father. He loves sinners whether you were in gentile land or the field at home. Have you come to the Father, or are you running from Him in your heart?



Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: 1 - 3 February 2021