9 Aug 2020 Sunday Message “The Prodigal Brother”
Call to Worship; Luke 15:11-20
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.
Tithe, Offering and Prayer Concerns: Father in Heaven and beyond. Lord today we thank you for claiming us as your own. All of us are like prodigal children who have strayed from our course at times, and yet You still love us. Please accept our return of ourselves all of our whole being as our offering and use us to further your Kingdom. Amen!
Message Reading; Luke 15:21-32
“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.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
Message: The Prodigal Brother
Perhaps one of the most well-known passages, or Bible Stories in Scripture is the Prodigal Son. I think this is partially because for generations Pastors like to tell the story of a son being accepted back into the fold of the family even after blowing it because it gives all of us hope that there is something better waiting for you and I.
Also you are in good hands when you are in your Lord’s footsteps. Jesus Himself is telling this story, which is a very compelling reason to repeat it every couple of years. To remind each other of the Lord’s teachings as we continue to strive to live in Him.
Another reason Pastors like to use this passage is because there are so many ways you can deliver this message with nuances that apply to the times. The Father is a perfect fit for our Father in Heaven, because there is limited knowledge about Him and yet what we know is admirable, generous, plus beyond our current selves, and how we think about God. How we hope how God will react to us with forgiveness and love, coupled with the pettiness and insignificance of us His children. And yet, He still loves us!
The passage of the Prodigal son reminds us of the following universal truths:
- God is consistent in His:
- Love for us His children
- Forgiveness, not on who we are but who God is
- Knowledge of what we need
- We as God’s children are consistent in our:
- Loving our desires
- Lacking knowledge of what we really need
These are the ingredients that have made for two thousand years of healthy, robust, and thought provoking Sunday messages, since the first time this passage was given by the Lord. Add the members of a typical family and you have the makings of a Soap Opera, or just a domestic drama back then or now today.
In fact just off the top, for me what makes scripture so compelling, is that as much as people have changed over the years, human dynamics remain pretty much the same. Age old questions that you could ask yourself on each of the characters in the story are:
- For the father;
- Why does he continue to love his kids?
- Does he favor one over the other
- Is he a good communicator
- For the Younger Brother (The Prodigal Son);
- How is he like you and me?
- Does he represent all the Gentile Christians?
- Is he spoiled and ungrateful?
Please feel free to explore those thoughts on your own. And now for today’s focus:
- Thoughts for the Older Brother;
- Does he represent older Christians?
- People established in their walk.
- What are his issues?
- How is he like you and me?
- Is he a Prodigal brother?
- What does Prodigal mean?
- Does he represent older Christians?
From the outset, we could have been here all day just coming up with message titles and themes to talk about from this passage. Suffice to say, I am picking the older brother because I am being selfish. I am an older brother, and since this is a passage you probably have heard before, (heck, you probably remember Jesus giving the lesson in the movie! Jesus of Nazareth), along with a number of lessons still accessible in your memories, I need any advantage I can get. So I’m going to talk about this from that vantage point.
In a larger sense, today I would like to explore a couple of items from this passage with you in our search for who God is, and who we are in the scheme of things.
I would like to start in reverse order under item 3 “the Older Brother”, and ask the question:
1). What does Prodigal mean?
I had to look this up because I remember hearing it but never really took the time to digest it’s context or meaning in the past. As with all questions that idle Americans have, and too lazy to dig into a Webster’s Dictionary, and since I am already on-line; I hit Google.
- on the down side: spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.
a). Similar: wasteful, extravagant, spendthrift, imprudent, immoderate
- on the up side: Having or giving something on a lavish scale.
a). Similar: generous, lavish, liberal, unstinting, unsparing, bountiful
So Prodigal does not always mean bad. In fact the Father could be known as a prodigal Father because of his generous giving to His son. Just like God who give lavishly to us His children. Some of us might actually be able to go outside and look at the beauty of the earth and then reflect on how spoiled we are!
This leads me to ask if;
2). Is the older brother a prodigal brother: and in what sense do I propose it? At this point it would be a good idea to explore how a brother or a sister could be imprudent or lavish, in a positive or negative way.
A brother or a sister could:
a). In a positive way act as a conduit between Father and other children. Opening up a path for communication and a deeper relationship. To act like the Lord who brought about reconciliation (a big word to say forgiveness, dialog, and relationship), with our Father in Heaven, who wants to forgive us.
b). In a negative way, the older sibling could instigate separation by stirring up animosity and strife in the household. In a very negative sense he could be harboring deep seated jealousies instead of rejoicing in the fact that there is plenty of love to go round.
(on a side note; if you believe that you are not getting your fair share of love in a relationship, maybe you need to love others even more to make up for what you see as a deficit of love in the first place! You can’t control others, but you can find others in the same boat and care for them)
So it looks like our older brother is a negative prodigal brother, and here are some thoughts on the:
3). Issues I think that are revealed about him:
a). Jealous about what his younger brother is getting, instead of grateful for what he has. (Am I more concerned about what someone else is getting instead of rejoicing on all that I have?)
b). Possibly not communicating to his Father what he would like until it is shown in anger. What about me? Well, did he ever ask? (Do we share our desires with God along with our needs? At least when we get a different answer from than what we want, we will have been in dialog with God.)
c). Does the older brother hear what his Father is telling him “‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” (Stop the presses. Realize what is truly important? The scraps at God’s table are better than any place of honor in Hell or anywhere else! And we are offered so much more.) Think about what Jesus is teaching! Now think about your incredible future!
None of the issues that are revealed about the older brother are set in stone. In fact that is the whole purpose of the passage to begin with, to act as a tool for the Lord to reclaim His own. So:…
4). How is he like you and me?
As inferred earlier, this passage is all about making changes in our lives. We all can make a change on our attitudes which directly affect the way we communicated and listen to not only what God is saying, but also our families and friends.
Every day of my life, I get to make a decision on if I want to go long and:
Be Prodigal: on the negative side
- Excessive in my jalousies, fears, and carrying a chip on my shoulder.
- Walking alone
- Loving myself, and actually hating myself
- More concerned about what someone else is getting that what I am doing?
- Blaming others
- Diving deep into the waters of animosity, hate, and loathing
- Out for myself
Or to be Prodigal: the positive
- Loving God
- Walking with the Lord.
- Loving others
- Lavish in my praise of others
- Working to open up relationships for other people, with other people and most importantly with our real Father.
- Unsparing in forgiveness, because we are asking for a lot of forgiveness.
- Happy for the attainments of others
- Serving others before self
- Not equipping others with the seeds of their own despair (not being co-dependent) sometimes giving tuff love
On a side not: The older brother could actually show his father greater love by finding a way to love and forgive his brother. That is what Agape love is all about, selflessness.
We all have this choice and option available to us. No one can take your ability to choose away from you accept you. And plenty sell their birthrights out from under them for a bowl of stew like Lot.
As we look at the choices that our members of the Prodigal family have in front of them, it is timely to ponder the last question before us today:
5). Does the older brother represent older Christians, the people established in their walk?
Yes. Of course. The Lord didn’t go to all that effort to give a lesson and not expect us to look deep within ourselves. It’s just when I do that it’s painful!
Many is the time that I have given a message and someone said, “You were talking right at me today”. Wow. Well, I usually have no one in mind unless I’m kicking my own backside on something. So if this is hitting home, first I’m sorry. Second I’m glad, because that means you are alive and growing and hopefully transforming into the beautiful person of your future.
For today’s message, I would say there will be times when we see new people enter the church and are searching for the Lord. They will say things that will outright disturb us, and they will also bring much joy when everything begins to click. We must always remember that as someone is being born again, the birth pains are shared by many who love outward in the Body of Christ.
As we experience the growth of new believers, we want to be that Prodigal brother and sister that forgives and loves generously, lavishly, and without restraint. Not the other prodigal that sees only fear and doom leading others towards decline instead of joyful praise, increase, and growth.
That’s also the difference of following rules or actually living your faith. What Isaiah spoke of all those years ago in Isaiah 1: 13-18
13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!
16 Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
In the Revised Standard Translation verse 18 begins, “come now, let us reason together”. That speaks volumes to me! It says; Stop going through the motions of following rules, live your faith in the one who created you. Do you think you can just buy off God and then walk your own way? How Prodigal of you! (Thumbs down)
Meaning, God is interested in a sacrifice, but it is you He is looking for, ditching the old nonsense, turning your life to Him as you learn to live your faith being Prodigal (Thumbs up) in your service to Him and other people!
My hope and prayer for you this week is that you will find the true Prodigal you. The one who is excessive in praise of others without insincerity or codependency. Lavish in love, and hopeful in prayer. That you will be unrestrained as the faithful you to a world only expecting more sadness, and in so doing bring light to the darkness, courage in despair, and love in the vacuum of hurt. In this world, you are the difference to more people than you know, and when in doubt remember just how much you are loved, by the Lord and others in this church!
Benediction; Numbers 6:24-26