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!
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Intro: Often, this parable is preached as pertaining to backsliders. In truth, the correct interpretation is that Jesus is speaking about lost people. The Pharisees and the scribes were upset that Jesus was hanging out with sinners, v. 1-2. Jesus spoke the three parables that comprise this chapter to confront the hardness of their religious hearts against lost sinners. In the first parable, The Lost Sheep, we learn that the shepherd went after 1 out of 100. In the parable of The Lost Coin, we learn that the woman sought 1 out of 10. In the parable of The Lost Son, we see the father looking for 1 out of 2. But, don’t miss the fact that the father went to both his sons, thus teaching us the truth that every life matters to the Lord! Friend, your life matters to Him and just as the shepherd sought the sheep, just as the woman sought the coin, just as the father sought his sons, the gracious Lord of glory is seeking you today.
In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy spent the first part of the movie trying to find a way to get away from home. When she finally winds up in Oz, she spends the rest of the movie trying to find a way back home to Kansas. Finally, she learns the truth that she had always had the ability to go home anytime she wanted to. All she had to do was click the heals of her ruby slippers together three times and say, “There’s no place like home.” When she did this, she went home!
In this parable, Jesus tells the story of a young man who couldn’t wait to get away from home. He makes a very selfish demand of his father, he takes his inheritance and he heads out to a far country to live it up, free from the restraints of his father and his rules. What he finds in the far country is not what he expected to find. Oh, he found good times and new friends, but when his money ran out, the good times and good friends ran out too. He finds himself living with a pig farmer in the far country, working day by day feeding the pigs. He is broke, lonely and no one cares about him! When he finally reaches bottom, he comes to his senses and remembers how good things had been at home after all. He remembers that there is no place like home! He returns home with a plan to be a servant in his father’s house. But, when he returns home, he finds more there than he ever bargained for. He finds out that there really is no place like home!
So, my friends, whether you are lost on the high hills of sin, lost in the house or lost in the far country, you need to know that you can come home. If you are like that elder brother, you can come home too! Regardless of where you are in the walk of your life, you need to know today that There’s No Place Like Home! Let’s find out why.
I. V. 20 THERE IS A LOVING FATHER AT HOME
(Ill. While he was in the far country, this boy had no one who cared about him, v. 16. When he arrives at home, the very first one to meet him is the father he had disgraced and dishonored many days earlier! This verse tells us something of the nature of the heavenly Father Who waits for you.)
A. He Is A Concerned Father - Here comes the son down the road, he is dressed in rags, he has the filth and the odor of the pig pen all over him. Still, this father sees him while he is yet far away and he runs to meet him. Can you see the father as he spends his days looking down the road for just a glimpse of the son he saw walk away so long ago? I can see him has he steps out of the house every day and looks down the road in hopes that he will see his son coming home. He has spent the time since his son left waiting and watching for his son to return. He knew where the son had been, still he wanted him to return home. He still loved him in spite of where he had been and all he had done.
(Note: What a picture this paints of the heavenly Father! Just like this father God sees us when we return home, but He also sees us while we are wandering in the far country of sin. He sees us as we waste our substance with riotous living. He knows what we are and he has seen all we have done, still He desires for us to return to Him. God is a concerned Father Who loves those in sin, Jer. 31:3; John 3:16!)
B. He Is A Compassionate Father - When the father sees his son returning home, he surely doesn’t look like he did when he left home. He doesn’t smell like he did when he left home. But, when the father sees him, he forgets the hurtful things that were said when the son left. He forgets the wasted resources. He forgets all the lonely, heartbroken days while the son was away. All he knows is that his son has returned home! He is safe and he is home! Here comes the son, slowly in humiliation, when the father sees him, he runs swiftly in excitement to meet him and he kissed him repeatedly!
Why all the excitement? Because the father has carried this boy in his heart since he left home! Now, he doesn’t have to hold a memory, he can embrace the reality! He runs, which was totally out of character for men of the East. It was considered beneath a man’s dignity to run. Still, this father is excited! His prayers have been answered and he runs to meet his son. He meets him and he falls on his neck, kissing him over and over again! Why did he cling to him so? Because the Law demanded that sons who had disgraced the name of their fathers be stoned to death, Deut. 21:18-21. In this case, the father interposed his body between this rebellious son and any neighbors who might want to stone him to death. Any stones that fell would have struck the father first!
(Note: Again, this father is a picture of the Heavenly Father. He too responds in compassion to all those who return to Him in faith. When a sinner takes a step of faith toward God, He moves in great leaps toward the sinner. An ancient eastern proverb says: “Who draws near to me an inch, I will draw near to him a mile; and whoso walks to meet me, I will leap to meet him!” James put it this way, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.”, James 4:8. He is able to run to us, receive us and kiss us back into His sweet fellowship because He literally interposed Himself between us and His wrath on the cross, 2 Cor. 5:21. When Jesus died on the cross, He took the penalty for your sins! Now, the way is open for you to come to Him for salvation. If you will come to Him, you will not be turned away!)
(Note: Imagine the fear that must have been in this boy’s heart as he headed home. It is clearly seen in verses 17-19. He wanted to return home as a “hired servant”. Hired servants were lower than slaves. Slaves often came to be considered a part of the family. Hired servants, on the other hand, could be dismissed at any time. He feared being turned away, but he found a father who loved him and who was filled with great compassion for this boy. My friends, you need not fear the Lord turning you away today. He loves you and if you will come to Him, you will find a warm welcome, not a harsh rebuke, John 6:37! Thank God there is a loving father at home!)
II. V. 21-22 THERE IS LASTING FORGIVENESS AT HOME
(Ill. This son returns home with a prepared speech for his father, verse 21, but the father interrupts him to declare that all is forgiven. The Father’s statements in verse 22 prove that all is well between him and the son. His statements demonstrate the fact that all is forgiven!)
A. This Forgiveness Involves 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!)
B. This Forgiveness Involves Privilege - 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!)
C. This Forgiveness Involves 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!)
III. V. 23 THERE IS LAVISH FELLOWSHIP AT HOME
A. There Is Fellowship With The Father - After the son has been covered and restored to his place in the family, the father calls for the fatted calf to be slaughtered. This calf was kept for the sole purpose of great celebrations and for entertaining honored guests. The father calls for this celebration because he wants to fellowship with his son. This hadn’t been possible before because this son was like one that was like one that was dead, v. 24. Now, the son is home and he and the father can fellowship!
(Note: Before a person is saved, they can have no fellowship with God because they are separated from Him by a great chasm of sin. Isa. 59:2. After grace has worked in the heart and faith has been exercised toward God, the lost sinner can experience sweet fellowship with God Himself! There is nothing in this world like knowing and experiencing the personal and powerful presence of God Himself. Please notice that the Father is pictured as rejoicing over sinners that repent, v. 10. Not only does the Father rejoice, but this parable indicates that He allows those who return home to celebrate with Him. Thank God for the rejoicing that dwells in the hearts of the redeemed, 1 Pet. 1:8; John 16:22. )
B. There Is Fellowship With The Family - So the celebration begins! The father invites the servants, the neighbors and the friends of the family to a great celebration! But, notice that when the father and rest of the family and many friends are gathered together to celebrate, the elder brother stays out in the field. He is angry because he has always been there, but the Father hasn’t so much as given him a goat, much less a fatted calf. He may have lived in the father’s house and worked in his fields, but he did not love the father like he should have. He may have been home, but he was in the far country in his heart!
(Note: This is a picture of many who are in the family of God today. They are always around the Father, but they take Him for granted. They do not enjoy His fellowship and they refuse to rejoice when someone else comes to know Him. They could eat the fatted calf anytime they want to, but they refuse to enjoy the blessings of their Father. The fact of the matter is this: not all the prodigals leave home! Many stay right there in the Father’s house, sulking because they are jealous of the lives lived by those off in sin. What a blessing it would have been had this elder brother ran behind the father to greet this boy! What a difference there would be in the house of God if those who were already there would join the Father in looking for those who aren’t home yet, and would rejoice with Him when then do finally come home!)
Conc: Note that the end of this parable is left open. Did the elder brother ever come into the feast? Did he ever reconcile with his younger brother? We do not know because those things are in the future. Jesus left the parable open-ended so that the Pharisees and the scribes could write the final paragraph.
Today, you get to write the final paragraph to your story. How it ends will be determined by what you do with the call of the Lord in your heart. Have you found yourself down in the pig pen of life this morning? Why not give that pig a permanent wave and come home to the Father? He will receive you and He will erase your past and restore you to a place of blessing and rejoicing. Maybe you are like the elder brother. You are in the Father’s house, but you aren’t having a good time! Maybe it’s time to come on down to the feast. Maybe it’s time for you to come to the Father and renew your vows before Him.
Friends, regardless of where you are today, there’s no place like home! If you are in the far country, you need to come home. If you are out in the Father’s field, but lack the kind of love you need for the Father, you need to come home too. The door is open, the table is spread and the Father is waiting for all who will come!