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.
Not only did the father clothe the son with the best robe and put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet but he also:
- Chose to Celebrate
Verse 23 tells us that the Father ordered the servants to bring the fattened calf and kill it so that they could celebrate that his son who was lost and dead was now alive and found. You see restoration should result in rejoicing. According to God the proper response when a prodigal returns is to thrown a party. Yet there are many today who would rather pout than party because they believe that rather than partying the prodigal should be punished. You see they are still focused on the failure rather than on forgiveness. These are the ones I call the party poopers, the ones who miss the whole message because they fail to understand God’s forgiveness. These are the Pharisees who Jesus was sharing the parable with, the ones who completely missed God’s message of mercy. You see we will never party properly until we look at life from God’s perspective. Why did the father rejoice, because a relationship had been restored. Which brings me to this question, what are we celebrating, what matters more to us riches or relationships? Are people or possessions more important to us? As Christians we should be caught up in the celebration over those who were lost and now have been found. Yet so often instead of voicing the victory and choosing to celebrate we act like sour lemons. Instead of praising we pucker up and pout around. But when you read the scriptures you soon discover that we have a father who loves to party: In Psalm 23 David spoke of the Lord “preparing a banqueting table before him in the presence of his enemies – anointing his head with the oil of blessing and showering him with such abundant goodness that his cup overflows. In the Song of Solomon 2:14 Solomon writes, “He brought me to His banqueting table and His banner over me is love.” In Isaiah 62:5 the prophet writes, “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” And in Zephaniah 3:17 it says: “The Lord your God is in your midst…he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.” The story of the prodigal son reminds us that God loves to celebrate and that there is joyous partying in heaven when one who has been lost is found. The father called for the fattened calf to be killed so that they could celebrate and eat together. Because the son not only needed a robe to cover him but food to fill him. When he came home he was starving because the life he had been leading was empty. Sin may satisfy for a season but it will always leave us starving. The father did more than just put food in the son’s stomach, he restored his satisfaction. Only the father can fill us and satisfy the deep hungers of our heart. Which should cause us to stop and ask ourselves, what are we filling our lives with? Is it the Father or are we snacking on fillers? Many of us are trying to find our satisfaction in substitutes, and as a result we are living empty lives instead of energized ones. While the son tried to find his satisfaction in sin we need to remember that not all substitutes are sinful. What we chose to pursue may be a good thing just not a God thing. There is nothing sinful about enjoying sports or hobbies the problem becomes when we try to find our source of satisfaction in sports or fill the hole in our heart through our hobbies. We can participate in one of two parties, the world’s or God’s, one that drains and leaves us dry or one that fills us to overflowing. The joy that God wants to fill us with doesn’t just satisfy for a season and leave us empty and hollow it fills our heart to overflowing. What party are you participating in? The father ordered that the fattened calf be killed so that the celebration could begin but I want you to note that the fatted calf didn’t get fat overnight. The father had been preparing for this day for some time. Which begs me to ask the question to those of you who are parents of prodigals, are you preparing for the party? Some of us are so focused on the problems that we have forgotten to prepare for the party. Here was a son who went from the pig pen to the party. Which means I also have a question for you prodigals, why are you living in the pig pen when God has provided a party? Stop settling for second best and start seeking God’s best, because God’s parties are for all people, regardless of your race or your rebellion. From God’s perspective you are precious and you are worth throwing a party over. If you are tied of living on empty them come and participate in God’s party because his feast will fill you to overflowing.