11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Here in Luke 15 Jesus reveals a Father who not only regrets our rebellion and runs to us when we return but also:
- Restores those who repent
It took losing everything for the wayward son to came to his senses and see not only his putridity in the pigpen but also the poverty of his position. How far do you have to fall before you finally come to your senses? His response was to return home with a rehearsed speech in which he said three things to his father. Two of his three statements were accurate while one of them was way off base. First the son said, “I have sinned against heaven.” Our sin is against God, which means we need to come to Him and confess. Second the son confessed to his father, “and I have sinned against you.” When we wrong others we need to own it. One of the hardest things for us to do is admit that we are wrong. We would rather play the blame game or try to justify our sin rather than own it. But as you look at the third statement, where he son said, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son” it may sound good on the surface, but it’s here that we discover his faulty thinking. You see the son worthy wasn’t based on his works it was the gift of grace. But because the son tied his position to his practice he saw himself not as a son but as a servant. There are a lot of believers who have this same bogus belief that leads them to define themselves by their sin instead of being defined by the Savior. Notice that the father refuses to entertain the idea that his son would be a servant. Even when the wayward son was living the wild life in the far country, the relationship was intact, it was the fellowship that was broken. The father responds to the sons request to be strip of his son ship and reduced to a servant by covering his filth with the finest robe. What a powerful picture of how our heavenly Father covers our sin with a robe of righteousness. Second the father puts a ring on his finger symbolizing his full status in the family. Next come the sandals, slaves didn’t wear shoes, sons did. This is where the old Negro spiritual “All God’s chillun got shoes” originates from. What sin had stripped and removed the father restored. But this is not the end of the restoration, there is a bonus blessing, because it’s here that the father commanded the fattened calf to be killed. This is what I call the barbeque blessing, where the father feeds and fills us, where we go from famished to full. Now the fact that the Father had been fattening up the calf causes me to believe that he anticipated the return of his son. Everything the son longed for and left looking for, he found back at his father’s house. The world may fill your wants but it can’t satisfy the soul. Sin may satisfy the flesh for a season but only the father can fill you forever. What about you have you wondered far from the father, are you trying to find satisfaction in the secular? Are you willing to come and confess, to say, “Father I have sinned against heaven and against you?” If you are you will find not only forgiveness for your soul but clothing to cover the filth of your sin. Why live in the pigpen when you can come to the party? In his short story called “The Capital of the World” Ernest Hemingway wrote about a father in Spain who was estranged from his son Paco because of the son’s rebellion. When the father tried to look for the son he had no luck so in desperation he placed an ad in the Madrid newspaper: “PACO, MEET ME AT THE HOTEL MONTANA. NOON TUESDAY. ALL IS FORGIVEN. PAPA.” Paco is a rather common name in Spain, so when the father arrived the next morning, there were 600 young men–all named Paco–waiting and hoping to receive the forgiveness of their fathers. We all have a deep hunger for forgiveness. We bear the burden of guilt, a guilt that only God the father can forgive. That is why deep down we all hunger for pardon, because we are all “Pacos” yearning to run and find a father who will declare, “All is forgiven.” If you need forgiveness today, the Father offers it. As you look back to the beginning of the chapter you see the audience to whom Jesus was speaking. Some were Pharisees who thought they were sinless, from their perspective they were perfect and didn’t need forgiveness. But there were tax collectors and other sinners there as well, and Jesus was telling them that God is a father who forgives if we will return and repent. What about you are you going to choose the far country or the father, are you going to run after ruin or run to repentance and be restored?