No claims of absolute originality are made for this material. As one man said, "I milk a lot of cows, but I churn my own butter." Please use these sermons as the Lord leads, but nothing on this site may be used for profit without my expressed, written permission!
God’s Lost and Found Department #3
THE LOST SON
Intro: For the last three weeks, our attention has been focused on God’s Lost and Found Department. Verses 1-2 of this chapter tell us what motivated Jesus to give the four illustrations that make up these verses. The enemies of Jesus were criticizing Him because He received sinners. They are astounded that someone like Jesus Christ would spend His time with “publicans and sinners.” They are stunned that He would receive such wicked and evil people. In response, Jesus tells them four stories. All of these stories are designed to teach the same great truth: “Every soul is precious to God, even yours!”
Today, we are going to look at the illustration of The Lost Son. As Jesus moves through these stories, He is placing greater and greater emphasis upon the value of the thing lost. In the illustration of The Lost Sheep, there was 1 sheep out of 100 missing, just 1%. In the illustration of The Lost Silver, there was 1 coin out of 10 missing, 10%. In the illustration of The Lost Son, there is 1 son out of 2 missing, or 50 %. In the first 2 stories, the objects missing were animal and material. In this illustration, the object missing is a human. Each time, the object lost grows in value and importance. Jesus is trying to tell us that “Every soul is precious to God, even yours!”
Now, many preachers will use this passage to preach to backsliders. And, there is plenty of application available to use it in that fashion. However, the actual interpretation of this passage deals with lost things. The Lord is speaking about the salvation of lost souls and He is trying to impress upon all those who read this passage that “Every soul is precious to God, even yours!”
With these introductory thoughts in mind, let’s turn our attention to the message contained in these verses. It may be that there are lost ones in the service today. If so, let the Lord show you how precious you are to Him and come to Him for salvation. It may be that there are saved ones here today, and you are not as close to the Lord as you used to be. I hope you learn the truth this morning that you can come home again. All I ask is that you allow the Lord to speak to your hearts today and that you heed His voice when He does. Let’s look into this passage and consider together the illustration of The Lord Son.
I. V. 11-12 A HARSH REQUEST
(Ill. The request of this younger son was for his share of the inheritance. According to Deut. 21:17, he was entitled to one-third of his father’s estate. His request was legal, since a man could divide his estate while he lived, but it certainly was a cruel request nonetheless.)
A. It Was A Shocking Request - When this boy asked for his father to divide the estate, he was in effect saying, “I wish you were dead and no more say in my life! I am tired of you and I want to be free from you and your control in my life.” Few of us would ever say that to our dads! (Note: The lost man lives his life with just that attitude! He might as well say to God, “I wish you were dead!” Because, he lives his life as if God was dead!)
B. It Was A Selfish Request - Notice what this boy said to his father: “Give me!” His focus is on “me”. His life is all wrapped up within himself and he cares for no one else, especially not the father. But, this father is so gracious! He could have refused and kicked the son out, but he doesn’t. He merely does what his son asks him to do and gives his boy what he asks for. The Bible says, “And he divided unto them his living.” Literally, this father has poured his life into building his estate so that he might have something to hand down to his sons. This father gave his son the result and sum total of his life and work. The younger son wanted what the father could give him, but he did not want the father! (Note: In this, he again pictures the lost sinner! The lost person takes no thought for God. Their attitude toward God is “Give me!” They want His air, His food, His water, His time, His world, etc, but they do not want Him involved in their lives! When God made man, He literally poured His life into man, Gen. 2:7. And, every day that men live upon the earth, they consume the resources that God created for them, yet they do not want Him in their lives. They want what He can give them, but they do not want Him! What a tragedy! No wonder the Bible calls such men “Fools!”, Psa. 14:1.)
(Note: Friend, if you want to live your life like there is no God, then He will allow to do just that! If you want to take all that He can give you without acknowledging Him, He will let you do that too. But, you need to know that end of such a life will be a Christless eternity! Is that what you want as the sum total of your life?)
II. V. 13-16 A HARD REALITY
(Ill. The son gets just what he wants, but soon finds out that “all that glitters is not gold”!)
A. V. 13 The Reality Of Sin’s Pleasures - He takes his father’s grace and he squanders it by living a wicked, self-indulgent life. The words “riotous living” refer to a life totally given over to sinfulness and wickedness. In other words, when this boy left home, he also left behind all his moral restraints. He lived in such a way as to gratify every whim and desire of the flesh! Did he have a good time? Oh yes! (Note: I will not be so foolish as to try and tell you that there is not pleasure in sin. The Bible itself makes that statement for us, Heb. 11:25. However, notice the last phrase of that verse, “for a season”. Just as the trees outside this building were green and full of promise this past spring, they are now wilted and the leaves are dying. Friends, the seasons of life change! And when they do, that which brought you pleasure at one point will bring you pain instead! Ill. A life lived in the bottle. Ill. A life lived indulging sexual sins. Ill. A life lived for fleshly pleasures. Ill. A life lived for self. All these end up in the same place! Yes, there is pleasure for a short time, but is eternity without God in Hell worth the short time spent in the pleasure of sins embrace? (Ill. How an Eskimo kills a wolf.)
B. V. 14 The Reality Of Sin’s Price - Eventually his money ran out and along with the money, he also lost the friends who had helped him spend it! The far country, a land of “wine, women and song” had become a land of “weeping, worry and sorrow”. He found out too late that sin carries with it a high price tag!
1. Sin Brings Separation - This boy finds himself broke, alone and miles away from a father who had done nothing but love him. Still, by his own actions, he is separated from that father by a wide gulf of sin, pride and ignorance! (Note: So it is with every soul that is lost in sin. They are separated from God, Isa. 59:2. He loves them, Jer. 31:3; John 3:16, but their sins stand between them and Him! What a waste and what a tragedy!)
2. Sin Brings Sorrow - “He began to be in want” - Life had turned upside down for this boy. When the music stopped, the friends left, and the money was all gone, this young man found out that he had some needs that he could not meet. His sin had robbed him of everything of value and it left him hopeless and helpless in the far country. (Note: That is how sin treats all its victims! It will promise you the world, but it can only deliver hopelessness, desolation and death, Rom. 6:23; James 1:14-15. You see, we always say, “It pays to live for God!” And, it does! But, did you know that it also pays to live for the devil? It pays dividends that you cannot even imagine! Broken lives, ruined marriages, shattered dreams, damaged trust, health problems, hopelessness, depression, defeat and death are all part of the pay package of sin! Someone rightly has said, “Sin will take you father than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.” Don’t worry, sin always pays off, Gal. 6:9!
C. V. 15-16 The Reality Of Sin’s Pain - Because of his foolish decisions, this boy found himself in a mess. He learned some valuable lessons!
1. Sin Brings Shame - Here is a Jewish boy who finds himself feeding the pigs! For a Jewish man to stoop to this level would mean that he had reached the very bottom of the barrel of life! He must have been filled with shame! Those who heard Jesus say this must have been shocked beyond belief! (Note: Those who allow sin to have its way in their lives always come to shame sooner or later. Ill. The shame of a wasted life! The shame of a wasted youth. The shame of wasted opportunities. But, worst of all, there is the shame of a wasted eternity! It is a disgrace to sacrifice your finances, your fitness and your family on the altar of sin and self-indulgence! What a shame to live that way and what a shame to die that way! It doesn’t have to be! Sadly, many live like Hell and don’t seem to be bothered by it at all! There will come a day, when they will be ashamed in His presence, 1 John 2:28! )
2. Sin Brings Suffering - Here he is, no home, no help and no hope. No one cares for him at all. He is starving and would have taken the pigs food if he could have. He is suffering because of the choices he has made! (Note: Sin has not changed! It always brings suffering, Pro. 13:15! Many suffer in this life because of the things they loose to sin, health, wealth, family, etc. But, those who allow sin to play itself out to its ultimate conclusion find that Hell is all they have to look forward to at the end of the way! Friend, don’t let that happen to you!)
3. Sin Brings Sadness - No one cares whether he lives or dies! He is alone and lonely. He is hungry and broken. What a sad shape to be in, but for this young man, it was the first step in getting him home. (Note: Nothing is any more sad than a life broken by sin. Nothing hurts as badly as seeing a life that was once filled with potential, dashed to pieces on the cruel rocks of wicked living. It doesn’t have to happen, but you might as well know today, you will not go into the far country and come back happy! No one ever wandered off into sin and came back glad they did. They all returned broken, defeated and humbled, Ill. David and Samson. If that is what it takes to get you started toward home, the praise the Lord!)
III. V. 17-20a A HUMBLE RETURN
A. V. 17 The Son’s Realization - “when he came to himself” - This boy’s entire time in the far country had been a time of insanity. He hadn’t been thinking clearly! Now, the fog lifts and he remembers how good it had been at home with the Father. He remembers that even his father’s servants were in better shape than he is! What a realization! (Note: Seeing where you are is always the first step in getting to some other place! Friend, a life lived in sin is a life of insanity! Why? Because the sinner is blind to his condition and to his ultimate destination, 2 Cor. 4:4. If the devil came to sinners and said, “Now, you’re going to like this sin for a while. It’s going to make you feel good! But, eventually, you’re going to die, and when you do, you’re going to burn in Hell forever.”, he would lose a lot of business! He doesn’t do that! He tells people, “It’s fun and you’ll love it. There are no consequences! You’re going to live forever so enjoy yourself. Live it up!”
The first step in getting out of sin is to realize that you are in sin in the first place, Rom. 3:23. When that is settled, you will begin to see that God’s servants are happy. They have hope. They are not trapped in the same bondage you are in and you will want to be set free! That is the first step in getting out!)
B. V. 18-19 The Son’s Resolve - He makes up his mind to go home! He is tired of life in the far country. He longs for fellowship with the father. He wants to go where he can be loved, fed and cared for. He wants to go home! Even as he makes up his mind to go home, he realizes what he has done! He sees his own unworthiness and he is willing to go home under any circumstances at all. He just wants out of the far country and back in the father’s house. You can see his change in what he says. He left home saying “Give me!”. He returns home saying “Make me!” Before, he did not want to be under the father’s authority. Now, he is willing to be a slave, if that is what it takes to go back home. I see a boy who is willing to confess his wrongs, repent of his sins and return to his father. (Note: That is where every lost sinner has to get to before they will ever be saved. The Lord accomplishes this through what we call conviction. He sends that Spirit of God to show us our sins and reveal our impending judgment, John 16:7-11. The Spirit shows us where we are. He takes the blinders off and lets us see our condition, and he points us to Jesus, Who can make all the difference in our lives. No man is saved apart from the convicting ministry of the Spirit of God, John 6:44.)
C. V. 20a The Son’s Return - He gets up and he heads home. He doesn’t know what will happen when he gets there. He may be rejected. He may be humiliated. He may even be put to death. However, at this point, he does not care! He is tired of the far country and he is going home! (Note: Friend, that is what conviction will do for you! The Spirit of God will make the blackness and end of sin so real and the salvation Jesus offers so glorious that you will do anything to get to Him. You will pay any price. Stop any sin. Embrace any truth, just to be saved! Do you remember the feeling of God’s conviction upon your life? If you are saved, you do! You remember how He hung you out over Hell and how He pointed you to Jesus. That’s why you came! If that was not your experience, then maybe you need to look at your salvation experience again! Ill. I think the greater the sinner, the deeper the conviction! Don’t let the fact that you were raised in church and good person cause you to doubt your salvation. If the Lord showed you your condition and pointed you to the Savior and you received Him by faith, then you have done all He requires to be saved. It’s all about leaving the far country and coming home. Have you?)
IV. V. 20b-24 A HAPPY REUNION
A. V. 20-21 He Found Reception - As this young man headed home, he did not know what he might find there. What he found was incredible! He found a father who had been longing, looking and living for his son’s return. He found a father filled with love, compassion and grace who received him and loved him back into fellowship! The father wouldn’t even allow the son to finish his little speech. He just loved him back into a right relationship.
1. Ran - Ill. Considered undignified for a man to run. Ill. Why did this father run to the son? - Ill. Deut. 21:18-21. God runs to meet the sinner to quickly extend mercy and put away danger! He literally interposes Him self between un and His wrath, 1 John 2:2. (Ill. If the neighbors had cast stones, they would have struck the Father first! That is what the doctrine of justification is all about! We are given a right standing with God - Rom. 8:33-34!)
2. Kissed - The verb “kissed” is in the present tense. Not just one kiss, but continual kissing. The ultimate sign of acceptance by the Father. When we return home, the Father kisses us back into the family - 1 John 1:9. (Ill. The Law demanded death, but grace extended the kiss of love and reconciliation! Because of forgiving grace, there was a feast instead of a funeral!)
B. V. 22 He Found Restoration - When this boy came home, he had everything he threw away restored by the good grace of the Father.
1. The Robe - His Purity - Here stands the son in the rags of his sins. He doesn’t look like a child of this father. But, the father orders the best of his robes to be brought and to be put on the son. This robe would cover all the stains and dirt of the pig pen. This robe would make him look like the father. Imagine a servant walking up, who had net been there when the son returned home and seeing this boy from behind in the father’s robe. He would naturally mistake him for the father! This robe served to erase all the visible signs of this boy’s sinful past. (Note: When a sinner comes home, they also receive a robe from the heavenly Father, Isa. 61:10; Rev. 7:9-14. This righteousness is not the righteousness of good works or of human goodness. No, this is the very righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to those who receive Him by faith, Phil. 3:9! When we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, all the pain and the stain of our past is forever washed away! All the dirt and the filth of a life of sin is forever washed away from us! And, if you are not very careful, there are times when the saints of God might be mistaken for their Father! Certainly, they are viewed by their Father as though they had never been away from home at all, 1 Cor. 6:9-11!)
2. The Ring - His Privileges - After the robe came the ring. The ring was a symbol of son ship and authority. The one with the ring could speak for the Father! The one with the ring had access to all that belonged to the father! The one with the father’s ring was in a position of great privilege! (Note: When old, lost sinners repent of their sins and come home to the Father, they are given the great privilege of being recognized as His sons, 1 John 3:1-2. They are given the privilege of speaking for the Father, Act 1:8. They are allowed access to all that belongs to the Father as well, Rom. 8:17, Psa. 24:1; Psa. 50:10. When we come to the Father, He opens the storehouses of His grace and gives us everything He has! What a privilege belongs to those who go home to the Father!)
3. The Shoes - His Position - The father calls for shoes to be brought for the feet of his son. Only the slaves went barefoot, sons wore shoes! This boy returned home desiring to be just a mere hired servant, but the father is determined to recognize his position as a son! In the boy’s eyes, he didn’t even deserve to be a slave, but even lower, even a hired servant. The father, however, looked at him and said, “This is my son!” The father alone determines the position and worth of his children! (Note: Let me just remind you today that you are not a nobody if you are saved by grace! We have this idea that we are supposed to think of ourselves as “just old sinners saved grace.” Well, let me tell you, when you were saved by grace, you became a child of God! He no longer sees you as a slave or as a sinner, but he sees you as His darling child, whom He loves like He loves His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ! We are right to humble ourselves in His presence, but let’s never forget that if we are saved by grace, that it is the Father Who determines our standing in the family and not we ourselves! What I am saying is this: Don’t let the devil or the flesh keep you down by telling you that you are not worthy to be a child of God. If you are truly saved, you have been accepted by the Father in Heaven and He has called you His child! Sounds to me like you are in a special place of privilege!)
C. V. 23-24 He Found Rejoicing - Ill. The fatted calf was kept for special occasions. The fatted calf was the Father's way of sharing His joy with all around. Instead of a wasted life, the father was celebrating a life redeemed and restored! Everything that was missing in the pig pen was given to him when he returned home. (Ill. So it is when a sinner returns home to God the Father! There is rejoicing in Heaven. There is rejoicing in the House of God. And, there is rejoicing in the heart of the redeemed sinner!
Conc: Where are you this morning? Are you lost in the far country? Do you need to come home? If you do, there is no better time to do that than right now. The Heavenly Father is waiting to receive you, clean you up, wrap you in His righteousness and begin the celebration. If you are not saved you come!
If you are saved, how long has it been since you thanked the Father for the gracious provision He has given you in Jesus? Maybe you are saved today, but you are away from the Father. You can come home too! Wherever this message finds you today, I challenge you to get before the Lord right now and do business with Him!