Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Sermon ~ "The Prodigals"

Ukarumpa congregation getting settled down to hear Mickey preach this sermon
Biblically knowledgeable people too often are the hardest on other the Pharisees and teachers of the law in Jesus' day. Luke 15 records Jesus taking them head on. Sinners and tax collectors (sorry about that IRS) flocked to Him. Jesus not only welcomed them, He ATE with them. It drove the religous crowd bonkers.

Jesus, pouring salt on their self-righteous wounds, tells three parables about something lost: the lost sheep the shepherd searched for and found....obviously a reference the the Lord Jesus who came to seek and save the lost; the lost coin, found by the woman after sweeping the house, bringing in a light and searching for it. To me this speaks of the Holy Spirit who sweeps away our darkness with the light of truth, the searcher of hearts.

And then the parable of the prodigal son. It is really the tale of two sons: the Rebellious Prodigal who left home after prematurely obtaining his share of his father's estate, and the Resident Prodigal who never left home but whose heart was far from his father. Most inheritances require the death of the estate owner before the estate is divided among the heirs. The Rebellious Prodigal had his own agenda, was willing to diminish his father to satisfy himself, wanted to put distance between himself and his father (the greener pastures syndrome), threw his money away on living it up until it was all gone, and wound up strarving in a pig pen. But he came to his senses, acknowledged his stupidity (he knew father's hired men had more to eat than he did), returned to his father and home, humbled himself and found open arms and an open heart from the father he had so wronged.

But not so the Resident Prodigal...his older brother. Fuming over the celebration his father threw because this lost son was now home, this son would not join in the celebration, declared his self righteousness in that for all those years he had "SLAVED" (see text NIV) for his father, and had NEVER disobeyed him (questionable). He would not even refer to the returned prodigal as his brother, but threw his disdain for his brother in the face of his father calling him, "This son of yours". And then surfaced the smoldering, resentful spirit... "You never once gave me even a goat to celebrate with my friends." His judgmental  spirit surfaced when he accused, without evidence, his brother of wasting his father's money on  prostitutes. While the father pled with him and reminded that ALL he possessed was available to this Resident Prodigal, this young man had a miserable concept of grace. He never heard the heart of his loving father.

To the listening, biblically knowledgeable Scribes and Pharisees, this was a slap in the face they never felt, just as there is no record of the Resident Prodigal having a change of heart as did the Rebellious prodigal.

But this parable's central figure is the Prodigal Father. He did not do fathering as most of us would. Open armed and open hearted to a Rebellious Prodigal; open armed and open hearted to a Resident Prodigal.....he never gave up on either of them.  So neither has God our Father given up on us...whether Rebellious or Resident.  "I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have a drawn you." Signed - God our Heavenly Father. (Jer. 31:3)

No comments: