Friday, January 02, 2009

Parable of the Lost Son - Luke 15:11-32

Two parables precede the Parable of the Lost (prodigal) Son - The Lost Sheep and then The Lost Coin. It is by no accident either.

The Key message in both - the utter joy that fills heaven over the repentance of sinners. The third parable is the Lost Son (prodigal son). It is exactly the same - but now back dropped with an older brother's depraved resentment and displeasure over his younger brothers return and his father's utter delight. Jesus was about to publicly expose the wickedness and hypocrisy of the Pharisees once again - for all to see, then and now.

Luke 15:7 - I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety -nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Jesus is represented by the father of the two sons in The Lost Son parable - and perhaps the shepard and the woman in the other two parables - either way it was God who was indeed seeking what had been lost.

Who was listening to these words? The Pharisees - they thought they needed NO repentance, and that's why when Jesus takes them into the Lost Son parable - the hero would have been the father if he had just given his dishonoring son a good old fashioned ancient near eastern beating - or even perhaps a public stoning as the law allowed such a harsh penalty for rebellious son - see (Deut 21:18-21).

In fact, the hero through at lest half of this parable was the elder son as perceived by the Pharisees. The ending, however, will reveal it is indeed the elder son that is not only the very subject of this parable - but the one who is in the most bondage to sin - a mirror image of the Pharisees! An image they most assuredly did Not fail to notice.

A great celebration, the ring, the robe, the sandals, the father running like a school boy to kiss his pig stenched rebellious son - was incomprehensible to Pharisees! [Please note and perhaps do some further study - the ring, the sandals, the robe and the father, a noble and very wealthy man, running - are ALL significant]. Everything the father did - was an utter disgrace to the Pharisees. Jesus did indeed have their attention!
Resource - John MacArthur's, A Tale of Two Sons.

Jesus ate with sinners, called sinners, accepted hospitality of sinners indeed. Jesus did not however, at any time, seek fellowship with sinners in their sin! Jesus was always the deliverer, extending His grace and mercy, healing and forgiveness - never affirming anyone in their sin. In fact He did indeed give His whole self to sinners - He freed them from sin's cruel bondage as the prodigal son experienced. The only thing the Pharisees had correct - was that Jesus was indeed truly their friend.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son is nothing less than a lesson about true repentance. This son is indeed a symbol of every man or woman (sinner, you and I) who has ever lived - we are all prodigal sons and daughters.

Luke 15:17 - But when he came to his senses...

He would make a full confession and throw himself on his fathers mercy. True repentance always begins with an accurate assessment of one's own condition. So called "gay christian" teachers should take notice and listen - saving faith is never divorced from the long walk home the lost son made back to his father. The authority of God's word (Christ - God in flesh) does not ever compromise - Jesus asks all of us, are You willing to do what I want you to do? (Matt 19:21). Christ never once offered mere psychological relief absent of His complete and utter Lordship in our life.

Far from a mere change of mind or some intellectual exercise - true repentance is different. You can feel remorse, cry like a baby or feel sorry for a life time, but until you realize it is God you have sinned against, and it is NOW God you desperately seek at all costs to yourself - it is no repentance at all! Remember, the son knew full well if he went "home" he could have been killed by his father, suffer public humiliation, and even be spat upon and beaten, nonetheless, he accepted his responsibility and threw himself on his father's mercy.

Luke 15:18 - Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight.

The Father's reaction was shocking to the Pharisees - jaw dropping I would imagine. Granting full forgiveness, instant reconciliation, lavish celebration, heir to his "kingdom", fully restored son-ship and authority - without one single deed, act, or work of restitution done by the son to earn his way back to favor - this was simply unheard of!

Want to know what separates Christianity from every other religion or cult on earth - there it is folks! Way back in Gen 15:6 - He believed in the Lord and it was counted to him as righteousness.

Faith is the only way and is never absent or divorced from acknowledging our sin. In fact, in Luke 14:33 we see with utter clarity of what saving faith is - not one other place in scripture does it ever demand that one sell everything and give it all away. Jesus challenged the rich young ruler right where he lacked - Faith! He simply did not believe! Notice also the rich young ruler sincerely wanted to know and to be saved. Good intentions mean nothing - write that down - the rich young ruler was indeed a Pharisee at heart.

Think about this - even before the son could finish expressing his repentance - it was a done deal! The father, after a dishonoring running sprint (humiliating act in this culture and time) towards his son ("dead" son); in broad day light ( He saw him from a far distance - probably to protect him from the potential harm he could have endured for being such a wretched son from the community); kissing and hugging his pig stenched neck. Not even a bath or a cleaning up and the son is being clothed in a robe of honor and one heck of a celebration is being prepared. In this time - it would have been a whole community event - and a really big one at that!

That my friends is life changing grace! If you are unwilling to turn from your sin, self centered self righteousness - you will not turn to Christ in faith.

The older brother's despising of his fathers grace - he condemns himself. The older brother hated his father, probably hated his brother too. He thought all his work would reward him with his fathers riches - just like in the beginning of the parable, he also wished his father was ultimately dead so he could get his share of inheritance. What the elder brother lacked the younger one didn't - the utter boldness to say so from the beginning.

It could be argued it is easier to deal with the wanton public sinner than it is to deal with the hidden and hypocritical sinner behind closed doors - the Pharisees. Pretty soon the hidden self righteous sinner will really believe in their own righteousness. Their hypocritical veneer - full of a false love for God, neighbor, and enemy - and eventually they really start to believe their own lies.

This is one thing the gay "christan" movement adherents should wake up to - they have utterly failed to love God, neighbor and enemy - just like the rest of humanity. Similar to the Pharisees - their righteousness comes not from God, but a self righteous love - instead of claiming righteousness in Abraham's seed or the keeping of the law, they claim it in loving their enemies and neighbors - you know, the ones who preach REPENTANCE and Christ's Lordship; yet their words and deeds tell a different story altogether.

They are really no different from the Pharisees - they are likewise under the demonic delusion they are keeping God's law. In essence, the very thing they both deny - is the Lordship of Jesus! They very thing saving Faith requires. The Pharisees loved the fact they were not sinners in need of a savior; the gay Christan loves the similar illusion they have kept God's law by loving any and all. Does anyone but me see a correlation - Repentance not necessary - at lest not repentance for sinning against God, maybe man, but certainly NOT God! Hum....

Make no mistake - even Judas had a personal relationship with Jesus, and if we think about it, so did Satan. God takes no one on their own terms, never has, never will.

In the end - the Pharisees write the "ending" of this parable which to some seems to end without a conclusion; make no mistake, Jesus intended that precisely! They kill Jesus. And once again - when the Pharisees (those who need no physician) did their very worst - God's best was accomplished.

The invitations have been sent out - acknowledge your sin and repent - and be reconciled to God! Don't stand on the outside like the elder son and Pharisees. This celebration is indeed for the honor and glory of God! Just has it was for the father whose DEAD son had returned!

Can we even imagine how God "feels" and heaven celebrates with an eternal Joy when just one repents vs the ninety-nine that don't? Let's again take a look at the Cross, and stay focused on it until we die, eh?

If you think you are not sick, God has nothing to say to you - but Judgement. Jesus never pleaded with the Pharisees - that was by no accident. He simply told them the Truth, the Truth they refused and hated - like standing outside the great feast, the elder son refused to come and rejoice, even at his fathers loving request.

The invitations have been written - sealed in the blood of Christ - God's word. The choice is yours.


The Merry Widow said...

Morning, Mark!
Good assessment, the "pharisees" lurk everywhere...even in our own hearts.
And that is something we all have to examine ourselves for, I know I do.
But I have no desire to be that older brother, I've been in the younger one's bare feet too often!
Unfortunately, telling the truth is seen as pharisitical by those who are still in the throes of self-righteousness.
And the father was gracious to BOTH sons...the older just didn't get it.
May the Father help us retain the broken heart necessary to be in HIS Good Graces!(And I'm speaking to myself here!)
G*D bless and MARANATHA!


Mark said...

May the Father help us retain the broken heart necessary to be in HIS Good Graces!

Those, my sister - are very wise words indeed! Thank you!

The Merry Widow said...

I'm just following David in his psalm...51:17;The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
It's David's insight I'm looking at...
And you are welcome, I try not to keep treasure to myself, I like to share it with family! ;}


Anonymous said...

The Pharisees loved the fact they were not sinners in need of a savior; the gay Christan loves the similar illusion they have kept God's law by loving any and all. Does anyone but me see a correlation ... oh yes !! I like what "tmw" said, "the "pharisees" lurk everywhere...even in our own hearts.
And that is something we all have to examine ourselves for, I know I do"
ME TOO !! Everyday,every hour, and in every daily situation.
See you all soon..... love Dad