01: THE PRODIGAL FATHER (PART 1)
- In January we are going to have a time of united prayer and fasting called “2020 FAST FORWARD”
- We are going to take 20 days from Sunday, January 5th through Saturday, January 25th to fast, pray, read the Word, gather together
- The focus of this time is going to be seeking God and listening for vision for the new decade.
- We are going to have Prophet Yul and Jane Crawford joining us January 17th to 19th as well.
- Save the date and get ready for what God is going to do
- This series in entitled “HOME”
- One of the strongest themes of Christmas for most of us is ‘family’ – right at the core of our vision here at TCC is to be a spiritual family. Right at the core of Christmas is about God the Father sending His only son to save us, so we can be welcomed into family.
- When you are part of a family then you have a home – the dictionary defines it as the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household
- Over the next several weeks I want to talk about a family, and a home, and how God’s heart/character was revealed through them.
Luke 15:1-2, 11-24
The Main Players:
“Pharisees and Scribes”
- The scribes were the professional theologians of the day
- The Pharisees were a strict sect of those who were radically devoted to following God
- We tend to judge Pharisee’s and Scribes quite harshly but we need to remember they were the ‘church leaders’ and the ones who ’studied the Bible and they had a ‘passion for God’s truth’
“Tax Collectors and Sinners”
- Tax Collectors were Jews who sided with the Roman occupiers and were ripping off their fellow Jews
- Sinners would have been the “worst of the worst. It’s interesting that was the word the Pharisee and scribes used. Jesus never used this word.
Jesus was “receiving” these tax collectors and sinners and eating with them
- This was absolutely scandalous in this culture and unthinkable for a ‘man of God’
- In that cultural context, to eat with someone was to publicly endorse them and their lifestyle
- The Scribes and Pharisees felt their responsibility to defend the honour of the name of God
Jesus then proceeded to tell them three parables; “The Lost Sheep”, “The Lost Coin” and what is commonly called “The Prodigal Son” but upon some digging really should be called “The Prodigal Father”
- Prodigal means “one who spends or gives lavishly or recklessly, having or giving something on a lavish scale”
- Traditionally we have made the emphasis of this story the sinful son who lived/spent recklessly but really the true Prodigal was the Fathers who lavishly and recklessly gives love and forgiveness – to both of his sons
- The emphasis of the Lost Sheep is the heart of the shepherd, the emphasis of the Lost Coin is the heart of the woman searching for the coin, and the emphasis of the “Prodigal Son” actually is the “Prodigal Father”
Jesus shared these parables to explain His scandalous behavior and really the heart of God. The teaching would have been so offensive to the religious leaders that many scholars believe it was this that pushed them over the edge to deciding that Jesus needed to die.
Let’s dig a little deeper into it:
Vs. 11 – There was a man who had two sons
- Right for the beginning, we see this parable is about a man… who had two sons
- In this teaching, we are going to focus on his relationship with his first son
Vs. 12 – And 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 between them.
- We need to understand this in the cultural context this was an incredibly disrespectful demand – it was basically saying “I don’t want to wait until you are dead” give it to me now.
- It would have broken the Father’s heart. The son would have brought incredible shame to the family by even suggesting this.
- The expected response would have been a beating but incredibly the Father abided by his request
- This would have been absolutely scandalous in their community: first that the son would even ask, but that the Father would say “yes”. The son would have been scorned but the Father would have been scorned even more.
- I don’t think any of us get the gravity of the fact that the Creator of the Universe gives us a free will and free choice.
Vs. 13 – Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.
- Most of us picture this story of the son getting his inheritance and just leaving right away… but he stayed for a season and then left
- He would have been a pariah in his community. He would have been liquidating his inheritance and all his Father had given Him… bringing even further public shame on His Father.
- And then he left and squandered it all
Vs. 14-16 – 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything
- When we chose to do our own thing God won’t stand in our way, but invariably we will go bankrupt and hit rock bottom
- There is a “Roman’s 1” wrath of God where He just leaves you to your choices… you don’t want this
- The son hit rock bottom. Pigs were unclean animals and not only was he caring for them but he was longing to eat their food – even the pigs were eating better than him!
Vs. 17-19 – 17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’
- He came to himself – it wasn’t just the hunger but he remembered the goodness of His Father
- He developed his speech and it was broken into three parts:
- 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 servants
Vs. 20 – 20 And 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 him.
- This is an incredible depiction of God our Father
- The Father SAW him, and had COMPASSION on him, and RAN to him, and EMBRACED him and KISSED him
- The son had shamed his Father, told Him he wished Him dead, broken His heart, brought great shame on Him publicly in the community and wasted all He had given His life to give Him and yet…
- In that culture Fathers never ran… and they definitely didn’t run to sons…. and they definitely didn’t run to sons who had shamed and embarrassed them and yet the Father ran to the son
- The Father knew that the minute the son stepped into the village He would be abused by the villagers and so he ran to him and hugged him, and kissed him thus providing covering for him and publicly demonstrating His love and forgiveness for him.
- We serve a God, who though He is the creator of the Universe, picks up His skirt and robes and runs to us
Vs. 21 – 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.
- The son launches into his speech but the Father doesn’t let him finish
- He let him say “I have sinned against heaven and before you…” because that was true
- He let him say “I am no longer worthy to be called your son…” because that was true as well
- When the son went to say part 3 though the Father wasn’t having it. He was like “yes you have sinned, and yes you are no longer worthy be to my son BUT… I’m going to welcome you home anyways! I’m going to receive you as my son anyways”
Vs. 22-24 – 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
- He gave Him his best robe – this would have been his robe
- He gave Him a ring – which would have signified His authority as a son
- He gave Him shoes – servants didn’t wear shoes, sons and daughters did
- The fattened calf was reserved for guests of honour
- This is our God, this is our Father – though we don’t deserve it in the least He gave us robes of righteousness, the authority of the name of Jesus, He welcomed us as sons and daughters and He celebrates us!
- He welcomes us HOME!