Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 3 months ago

The Gracious Father (Pt. 1)


Christian Macarthur

But ask you to remain standing for onemore moment as we open up to the gospel of Saint Luke, be looking at chapterfifteen together as we continue and the parables of Jesus Luke Chapter Fifteen beginning in verse. Eleven. This is God's word and he said there was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father.Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me and he divided his property betweenthem. Not many days later, the younger songathered all he had and took a journey into a far country and there hesquandered his property and reckless living and when he had spent everything asevere famine arose in that country and he began to be in need. So we went and hired himself out to oneof the citizens of that country who sent him into the fields to feed pigs, and he was longing to be fed with thepods that the pigs ate and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said howmany of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread. But I perishhere with hunger, I will arise and go to my father and Iwill say to him father. I have sinned against heaven and before you I am no longer worthy to be called.Your son treat me as one of your hired servantsand he arose and came to his father, but while he was still a long way off,his father saw him and felt compassion and ran and embraced him and kissed himand the son said to him father. I have sinned against heaven and before you Iam no longer worthy to be called your son, but the father said to his servants,bring quickly the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand andshoes on his feet and bring the fat and calf and kill it, and let us eat andcelebrate for this. My son was dead and is alive again. He was lost and isfound and they began to celebrate. Now. His older son was in the field and,as he came and drew near to the House, he heard music in dancing and he calledone of the servants and asked what these things meant and he said to him. Your brother hascome and your father has killed the fat and calf because he has received himback safe and sound, but he was angry and he refused to go in. His fathercame out and entreated him, but he answered his father. Look these manyyears. I have served you I've, never disobeyed your command. Yet you never gave me a young goat thatI might celebrate with my friends, but with this son of yours came who hasdevoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fat and cat for him and he said to him son. You are alwayswith me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be gladfor this. Your brother was dead and is alive. He was lost and is found. This is God's word you may be seated, so I want to begin this evening with aquote from psychology today from a doctor. Lawrence Sam well and he's speaking about death and,specifically how Americans consider death- and he says this- he says the notion ofone day- disappearing...

...its contrary to many of our definingcultural values, with death and dying, viewed asprofoundly on American, the rise of the self has made itincreasingly difficult to acknowledge the fact that our individual selveswill no longer exist. What is interesting, how repulsed weare by death? I mean it's understandable, isn't it! It is a topicthat is not overly popular to discuss and yet for the Christian for us whoprofess faith in Christ, death is actually the remedy for our humancondition. Isn't it and this evening I would like toconsider our text, the PRODUCTA son or, as I would suggest, e t a the parableof the gracious father. I would like to consider this parable in the context ofdeath. Now some of you might be thinkingChristian, why would you ruin my favorite parable by making it aboutdeath? Well, I'm sorry, but bear with me. I do want to consider this. Give me amoment and we'll see what we can come up with, but I want to consider thisparable in the light of death, certainly the death of Christ, but also our own death along withChrist. So, let's, let's consider this thisevening. This this evening will actually be taking. The parable in twoparts will take part one tonight and Lord Willing will take part to nextweek and this week will specifically be considering the younger brother, thePRODUCTA son. If you will and will consider this passage under threeheadings, one: The death of the father to the death of the Sun and three Baptismal resurrection that last one seems out of place. Bearwith me. So if you'll recall from last week, weconsidered the parables of the lost chief and the lost coin, and wementioned that Luke's, introduction and chapter fifteen verse. One is anintroduction to all three parables ours tonight included. He says this, he saysnow the tax collectors and sinners were drawing near to him, him being Jesusand the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled saying this man receivessinners and eats with them. So that certainly sets up last week'sparables, but I would argue that it also sets up this evening's parable andwith that I think we can see the parable as a bit of an allegory, andmost commentators through history would agree that the younger son representssinners and tax collectors. The older son represents Pharisees andscribes, and the Father Represents God, thefather who is in heaven who rejoices every time a sinner repents, as welearned about last week and so right off the bat. The parableintroduces these characters. Doesn't it a man who had two sons and then it zooms in on therelationship with the younger son? The younger son comes to his father andhe says father give me a share of the property that is coming to me. So this is a common thing that happensin fact it's mentioned, and the levitical law that that a father was togive an inheritance to his sons. Two thirds of it would be given to an olderone. Third would be given to a younger, assuming that there are two sons,...

...but what's different about thissituation is what the levitical law talks about is is that this is to begiven as a last will and testament. In other words, the sons have claimed tothis possession, but they don't get it until the father dies. It's interesting that the property herethat the word uses that give me the share of the property or inheritance,as some translation say is, is the Greek word for life and that's exactly what happens? Isn'tit at the end of one's life? They give what is left of their life to theirchildren, those who come after them as an inheritance, as we consider this. We we think about what the sun is actuallyasking. It's far more than just an advance on his allowance, isn't it he's essentially saying Hey dad as faras I'm concerned you're dead? Could you give me what's coming to me?I mean that's exactly what would be viewed in this culture for a son to saythat I want my inheritance would be a son wishing his father dead. No longer caring about the father, onlythe possessions that he can give him now. The father in this case has nolegal requirement to hand this over to his son, and yet he does okay son I'm dead to you, and this cashproves it I mean culturally. We can't even fathomthe shame that would be occurring here both from the sun's behavior, but alsofrom the father willing to allow his son to get away with this. This is the kind of actions that wouldcause the neighbors to whisper. Did you hear about so and so and is good fornothing son and you can believe. Can you believethat that fool just gave him the cash and let him go? I mean this would belooked on very poorly an this time and as these scribes and Pharisees arelistening to Jesus, tell this parable, no doubt that they are having some ofthese thoughts, so the son wishes his father dead andhis father allows it. I don't want to take the allegory toofar, but isn't this a picture of how God so often works? He is under no obligation to allow usto do what we want. He is sovereign over all things, andyet he's so often, at least for a time will allow us to in a way spit in hisface, take what he has given us, our very breath and life and go squander itaway. Isn't that kind of the picture from Romans one that people trade, the truth about whoGod is for a lie? In this case, this father has shown himself, at least inthe parable, to be nothing but a loving, compassionate father, and yet this son trades that truth forthe lie that his dad is nothing but a trust fund to be spent. However, hesees fit all while pretending that his dad isdead. So we have a son WHO considers hisfather dead and, if that's true next, we find the death of a son. The passage goes on. It tells us that,not many days later, the younger son gathered all that he had and took ajourney into a far country and there he squandered his property...

...on reckless living. I like how the King James Renders itsays there wasted his substance, his very life with riotous living. This young man leaves the country ofhis family and a Jewish context, leaving his homeland to go to a land ofgentiles right going to a foreign land away from theland of his father away from the land of his God. I think this would besomething like someone from Arizona moving to California. The older brother would later claimthat he describes what the what the youngerbrother did says. He devoured the father's wealth with what prostitutes. Let me, whatever the particulars, wecan assume that this young man did not lose this money on a business deal gonebad, but in loud living loose women. Not only has he considered his fatherdead, but he is shaming, the good name of hisfamily by leaving all that God has promised tohim going to a far away land and living in a way that certainly does notwithhold the honorable name of his father again, considering his father hisheritage to be dead. Well, in the case of sin, as we knowall that glitters is sure to fade and that's exactly what happens, he spendsall of his dad's money on drink and debauchery and as soon as the cash runsout, the text tells us that famine comes. He comes to the land where he is set upshop and the sun finds himself needy and here as to devise a plan. Doesn'the the R SV says that he joins himself toone of the citizens of the country? Now again, thinking about this in thecultural context, this Jewish boy has gone to a far away land. He is now indentured himself to agentile. He has literally put himself into exile and a land that is not his own andservitude to a people that is not his own and in the case of this particulargentile, he is now working on a pig farm which had a Jewish context against,would make the whole picture far far worse. I've got a good friend who is afarmer, a pig farmer in Minnesota, and he is constantly sending me pictures ofwhat pig farming is like, and it is disgusting at least how he frames it inour group thread, but that's not what's going on here,particularly we're finding this young Jewish man ina far away gentile country now giving his life to unclean animals and theircare, and not only that, but the text wouldtell us that the animals themselves seem to have more worth than the youngboy did they're getting fed and he's going hungry longing for the slop that is fed tothem. This would be a truly disgustingpicture for scribes and Pharisees to hear about. Wouldn't it deplorable the shame the send thedisrespect, the uncleanliness and their eyes, and rightly so. Thiskid is as good as dead.

Everything that is true about him hasbeen put to death. In fact, that's exactly what the father surmises at theend of the parable. Isn't it my son was dead. He says it twice. Isn't this a stark picture of sin of a live given over to sin? The reality of being dead and sin will not only does the father see hisson as dead as he summarizes at the end of the story, but the sun realizes ithimself. First, seventeen says that he comes tohimself. He comes to his senses, realizing that even the servants on hisfather's farm have bread to eat. But what does he say about himself, but I perish. I die here with hunger. He begins to recognize his position,which is near to death. The wages of sin is always death. We know that to be true in our ownlives, don't we we can look back and perhaps think of times where we weredead and sin. It looks pretty at first, but it doesn't end that way, doesn't matter how shiny it looks orhow attractive its form. It always leads to death. Well, in the dyingbreath of this son, he comes up with a plan. He will go back to his dad. He will beghim to take him as a slave and he begins to write a speech father. I have sinned against heavenand before you I am no longer worthy to be called yourson. It says treat me as one of your hired servants here. He seeks to hang on to that lastbit of life by saying you know what I'll just gowork for the old man, not as a son but as a slave, so he goes a dead man walking. So what would you do if you were thefather? Think of good parenting advice? Youwould give at this point. What would you tell the father to do? Would you allow the son to even stepfoot on your property? Maybe not, if you're a really graciousparent? Perhaps you would give him a list of hoops to jump through that hecould again earn your trust to get back into good graces. I mean his own plan to work as yourservant. Wouldn't be that bad, would it she's? That's that's not too bad. Hecould come. He could earn his way back into living with the family. How would we counsel this father? Would we tell them that the sun reallyneeds to learn the value of a hard day's work, the value of a dollar? It would be gracious of you after achild treated you with such shame and disrespect to give him or her a second shot atearning trust, and that's what a pretty graciousparent would look like right, a second chance, certainly the scribes and the Phariseeslistening to the story, or maybe thinking about this. What would we doin this case? Kidney's disciplinehe needs to provethat he can get his life together... that he can be trusted again well for the Pharisees here. Among us,myself included. What do we do? An horrible rebellioussinners enter into God's house. What is our attitude to those who havegiven themselves to public shame? Do we put them on probation, making sure they can improve a bit? We don't want to be too gracious right or on the flip side. For those herethat are prodigals myself included. Do we consider this to be what God doesfor us, giving us a second chance so that wecan try our best again? Maybe try to get it right this time. No, I'm not suggesting that we'd be unwise in ourrelationships or parenting, I'm not necessarily giving parenting advice, but part of thinking through thesethings makes this parable all the more striking. Doesn't it as we think aboutwhat this father should do, let's look at what he does do. This corpse iscoming down the driveway covered and pig dung and the father gets off the rockingchair and begins to run as if his son had not shamed him enough.He begins to shame himself. Running was not something a respectable man woulddo in this culture, certainly not one who is decent and certainly not running for a kidlike this, but the father sees him that son that had wished him dead andwhat does it say says he feels compassion for him. He runs to him. He embraces him. Hekisses him and the Sun starts the speech. He saysFather, I've sinned against heaven and before you I am no longer worthy to becalled your son, you'll notice. The speech stops there. He never gets to finish it. He leaves off that line about workingin the father's fields. Some have suggested here that thefather interrupts him and that could well be true. Others have suggested that in this verymoment, the sun gets it that he has nothing to give to hisfather, not even his servitude. Perhaps it's a little bit of both that its end in father's kindness thatthe kid understands this is that what Paul says that it's God's kindness whodraws us to repentance and what an incredible picture ofrepentance this is coming to a place, not where we sayI'll, spend the rest of my life trying to make it up to you the coming to a place where we realizethat we are indeed dead, that we have nothing to give and, as this sun finally breathes hislast figurative breath. His dying words are. I am no longer worthy to be called your son lifeless, nothing left to give not evento scrape by working in his father's fields. The Sun gets it, the fathergets it. What does he say? My son was dead. He later reflects...

...death is always the end to the life of sin. God's answer to sin is not a reformedlife, not a second chance at getting it right.Grace is not a Mulligan. His answer to sin is death. Certainlythe death of his son, but also our death along with Jesus Paul, says it like this and Romans he'sanswering the question: Should we go on sinning that grace may abound and he says by no means. How can we who have gotten our lifetogether on our own, continue to send? That's actually not what it says. How can we who have died still live and Sin Paul's answer to a life of sin life andthe old Adam is not reformed, but death death to the old man Paul goes on. Do you not know that allof us who have been baptized into Christ? Jesus were baptized into hisdeath? We were buried with him in baptism, but not just a baptismal death, a Baptismal resurrection, which is our final point. Fourth, thisevening, the father's response- and this parableto the son's repentance to his recognition of death- that he hasnothing left to give- is to further kill him with kindness. Isn't it, but also to raise him to new life. Hecalls his servant. He says, bring quickly the best robe in the closet andput it on the boy get my signet ring the one that says he can act in my name that he can now speak as a true memberof my family and executor of my estate and don't let him walk another stepwithout shoes get him some sandals and then he says, I'm not I'm not doneyet bring the choicest fat and calf. Yes, the one we've been saving andslaughter it. Let us eat and celebrate why verse?Twenty Four for this? My son was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found and they beganto celebrate. He is a father, so gracious so lovingso extravagant that he doesn't call us to spit shine our sinful existence, but in his grace he baptizes us intodeath the death of his own son. He doesn't wait for us to reform, buthe puts our old life in the grave and he resurrects us to new life. He clothes us in the best robe, thevery robes of righteousness from his son. He gives us a sign and seal of sunshipin the case of the parable this this ring that he puts on him. In our case,he gives us baptism that shows forth and reminds us that webelong to God's family. He gives us this weekly reminder thatwill partake of in a few moments a reminder that Christ has died andrisen for us and as we take an eat, we confess thatwe have died along with him,...

...but are also resurrected to newness oflife. Paul says, as he continues in Roman six,he says, for we have been unified with him in a death like this. We shall certainly be united with himin a resurrection like this. As this good father places robes and aring on his son. He says all that was once true of you is now dead. It'sburied and my son. You are now raised to newlife. My son was dead, but now alive, as we conclude this evening for some ofyou here, you can so resonate with the prodigal son. You have wandered, you have treated God as dead. You have given yourself to a life ofsin trading in the truth about God for a lie squandering the life that he has givento you. Oh God's word, for you today is nomatter who you are or what you have done. There is no sin that is a matchfor God's grace. There is no sin that you have committed.That is a match for his forgiveness. Then he offers it freely receiving to day is the day of salvation. For some of you hear this evening,God's word to you in the kindest way, is drop dead, stop resting in your own final breath, stop trying to be a servant in thefather's field and order in order to earn your keep will have more to sayabout that next week, but as a pre view, his word is: droppedat and fall into the loving arms of a father who runs to you not with it to do list, but with a robe and with a ring and an announcement that all I have isyours come in and enjoy the party. Let's praytogether.

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