The Worst/Best Day Ever

Genesis 3:11-21

It would not take much thinking to come up with a list of why 2020 was such a terrible year. And let’s face it, for MANY people it was. 

  • 2020 was a year of tremendous loss for many people, the loss of loved ones, the loss of jobs, the loss of dreams, as well as the lack of ability to be with our families. 
  • When you put “the previous year” into history, it was most definitely not the worst in history.
  • When I ponder some of the worst years in history, there are many candidates; from the years war started; to the years when plagues wiped out huge portions of the world populations; to the advent of Communism, the list goes on.
  • Usually we will define a year as the worst year in our lives depending on the impact the said year had on us personally.
  • Even though we do not have an official year on the calendar for when the events of Genesis three took place, we can see that indeed, whatever the year these events happened, that year has to be the worst one in HUMAN HISTORY!
  • Life was good.
    • Life was easy, Adam and Eve walked in the garden with God himself.
      •  Life is GREAT until we get to Genesis 3.
    • In chapter 3, everything goes bad. Fatally bad, terminally bad, historically bad, inescapably bad.
      • All human beings who will ever walk on this earth are affected by what happened in the third chapter of Genesis.
    • It is the explanation of why things in this world are the way they are: why there is so much evil; why there is so much sin; why there is so much corruption; why there is disease, deformity, and death; why there is conflict, hatred, war; and why there are disasters of all kinds that fall upon man. 
      • It all comes from this third chapter.
    • Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world, in a state of innocence, free from sin, until they fell to the temptation of Satan,
      •  a temptation to call into question the integrity of God, the righteousness of God, the goodness of God, the wisdom of God.
      •  They became doubters of God. They fell, and with them the entire race fell.
      • I would say the year the events in Genesis 3 took place takes the crown for the worst year in human history.
    • We’ve all been plunged into a spiritual death. We’ve all been plunged into physical death; from the moment we are born we begin to die. 
      • We are all born dying and dead, dead spiritually and dying physically.
      •  We have no hope of life if all we have is the fall.  
      • The events that took place in Genesis 3, has affected ALL of CREATION, including ALL human beings.
    • We will see that even in the middle of the storm, even in the moment of our most epic failures, God has a plan! 
    • In verses 14 and 15, in the curse that God pronounces on Satan is the first expression of gospel hope, salvation hope, deliverance from sin and Satan; embedded in a curse is the hope of mankind.
      • This takes place AFTER Adam and Eve broke the ONE commandment that God clearly articulated to Adam NOT TO BREAK!

Genesis 3:11-21

Moses tells us here the story of sin coming into the human family; and its consequences are massive, incalculable. Adam and Eve, in fact, by their sin set in motion a spiritual avalanche that carries the whole human race down and buries them in death

  • The deed.
    • God had given Adam and his wife Eve everything in the garden and simply asked one thing back.
      • Do you see a principle of a tithe here or is it just me?
    • God told this couple all the great things He had in store for them.
      • He then told them one thing that would hurt them. That would bring a thing called death to them.
      • It had to be evident that God was clearly letting them know how devastating to them this would be. 
    • You know most of us are today? You tell a young’un not to touch that or turn this and even threaten them with bodily harm. Their mind starts wondering why it’s so special.
      • You reckon Eve walked by that tree every day wondering how it would taste, I mean it looked so good to the eye.
      • Temptation always does look good to the eye. 
      • I am sure Satan was watching this scene unfold and when the time seemed to be right when Eve appeared to him to be at her most vulnerable, Satan showed up to reap the harvest of Eve’s desires. 
    • Jas 1:14-15, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death”
  • The decision.
    • In verses 14-19 we see Divine Justice rendering a perfect sentence.
      •  Obviously there are natural consequences to sin, they’re just built into it. Whatever a man sows, he reaps.
      •  If you lie, there are inevitable consequences to your lying. If God didn’t do anything, there are built-in consequences to telling lies.
      •  If you are drunk, if you are inebriated, if you are an alcoholic, there are built-in consequences. God doesn’t have to act; that kind of behavior has its own consequences. 
      • If you take drugs, that kind of behavior has its own consequences. If you are characterized by hostility and anger, that kind of behavior has its own consequences.
      •  If you engage in homosexuality, sexual sin, if you kill people, whatever it might be, whatever sin, built into those sins is the inevitability of cause and effect results.
  • But there is a far greater reality than that, and that is the reality of divine judgment on top of natural consequences. 
    • The sentence that comes down from God on sin. And here God renders a sentence, an appropriate and just sentence, in absolute, divine justice, on the serpent, on the woman, on the man and on the deceiver himself.
  • The serpent (V14) as an animal, was cursed “above all livestock, and above every wild animal,
    • It’s a selective curse. “Of all the cattle and of all the beasts, only you are cursed.” That’s what it’s saying: “Of all the cattle and all the beasts, only you are cursed.”
    • Cattle refers to domestic animals, the beasts refer to wild animals, “So of all the animals, wild animals and domestic animals, only you are cursed, only you.” 
    • This is a selective curse. Fallout came on the cattle; they die. Fallout came on the wild animals; they die. But only the snake was selected to be cursed.
    • Whatever may have been its beauty and posture before, it would henceforth glide on its belly and be an object of dread and loathing by all.
    • It is a perpetual reminder to man of the instrument of his fall and of the final destruction of Satan himself.
    • Every slithering, dust-eating snake is a symbol of the crushing curse of God and the judgment that is come on Satan. Snakes symbolize the devil degraded and defeated. 
    • They are constant reminders to human society that Satan has been declared a defeated enemy.

When God created the tree that Adam and Eve were called to stay away from, God did so in order that Adam and Eve have freedom of choice, free will if you will, which is a necessary part of love. • God wanted Adam and Eve to obey Him because they loved Him.

When God was dealing with the serpent and the deceiver, both were cursed by God; however, Eve was not cursed, she was given consequences for what she did. God held her accountable, but He did not curse her for eternity. 

  • On the woman.(V16) Eve paid a high price for her sin. Childbearing pain was going to be intensified for women and because of her deception, the husband will be the head of the marriage and her desire was to be to her husband.
    • It is not as though there was to be no pain associated with birth prior to the Fall; instead that pain will be greatly increased. 
    • The discomfort and pain that comes from bringing forth new life is a reminder of the real cost of exchanging THE TRUTH for a lie.
    • Desire to the husband and he will rule over you. Thus started the great conflict between men and women.
    • At first it wasn’t so. Remember Eve was created from Adam’s side.
    • Now the consequence of her choice and the fallout to all who come after her, battle of the sexes.
    • When it speaks of her desire to her husband. Its best understood as to be over him. Wear the pants. 
    • Many today will be the first to tell you their husband is the head of the house. BUT THEY’RE THE NECK!

When God was dealing with Adam He, God cursed the ground, not Adam. Again God held him accountable. There are consequences he must face.

  • The man (V17-19) Adam KNEW better, God told him DIRECTLY not to mess with that tree, yet here comes Adam. Even worse, look at verse 6 of Genesis 3
    • Adam was with her the entire time, and he did nothing! 
    • I feel God sentenced Adam for being dumb and for not caring enough to stop Eve! Eze 3:18, “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.”
    • Adam’s life was no longer going to be easy. 
    • (Gen 2:15) We know work was not part of the sentence or punishment of the fall. But now the world was introduced to TNT: Thorns and thistles.
    • Man had to draw life from it painfully and by the sweat of his brow
  • The deceiver.
    • Satan, apparently still in the form of the serpent, was standing before God and God had a plan for him
    • Satan’s thought was this: “I’ve turned Adam and Eve, the human race, against God.”
    • And God says, “I’m going to turn the human race against you.” That’s what it’s saying. Enmity. 
    • God denies Satan at the very moment when he assumed he had triumphed. God denies him what he thought he had gained. 
  • This situation is a mess which there seems to be no way out. 
    • Adam and Eve brought a curse to creation, they began the process of their own death as well as ushering in death to all. 
  • Childbirth was going to be more painful, the ground was going to be more difficult to harvest, the woman role in the home was changed, AND ON TOP OF IT ALL, THEY WERE GOING TO GET BOOTED FROM THE GARDEN! 
    • Is all lost? 
    • No, there is hope because of the grace of God, God has a plan
  • The great promise in Genesis 3:15 has long been known as the Protevangelium, promising the ultimate coming and victory of the Redeemer.
    • God will enable man, in his sinful condition, in his fallen condition, to be so totally transformed, that he will hate the serpent and love God.
    •  God has redeemed out of the human race, starting from that very incident in the garden through all of human history until the end of the age, a humanity that has been so transformed that that group of human beings, that massive group of redeemed human beings through all of human history, actually hate Satan and love God.
    • For this to happen there has to be a radical transformation of the human heart. There has to be a deep, deep change in the human heart to turn man back to God. 
    • It is so profound that the New Testament speaks of it as the new birth. There will be a humanity that will be so totally transformed that they will love God, and they will see Satan as the enemy and God as the friend.
  • God delights in mercy. 
    • Before He pronounces sentence on man and woman, before He expels them from the garden, He gives them salvation hope, hope of regeneration that they will hate Satan and see him as an enemy, and they will love God 
    • That there will come a Savior, that there will come One who will conquer Satan and therefore conquer sin.
    • Even though He in the conquering will be bruised, He will crush that deadly enemy.
  • It has already been done. His name is Jesus, do you really know Him?
  • Have you joined the redeemed?

Hard to Have Hope

1 Peter 1-

Today you can turn on any media device and in a matter of a few minutes you’re either mad or disheartened. With all the political trash. All the ethnic group after ethnic group rising up against the other. A pandemic and all that comes with it. 

Then add into that our daily stresses. Married life, children, and work, even church. Sometimes it becomes overwhelming and we begin to lose sight of the truth.

Remember last week I spoke of buying in? This is what happens, we get trapped into everyone’s passionate plea for protection and provision and buy into these mirages of purpose. A clearer way of saying it is: WE EXCHANGE THE TRUTH FOR A LIE.

Many are looking for ways to cope with all of it. Some offer up a “successful gospel”. Meaning, God meant for you to be prosperous. Under the cynical eye of the baby boomers. Who, by the way, have developed a disdain for such.

Others offer a serious but yet unrealistic gospel of no pain, no problems, no personal anguish. A Disney approach to life. 

We need to get back to offering the real gospel. One that came from the God of Joseph, Daniel, Elijah, one that carried the disciples and the early church. One that gives us boldness in the times we live in, a Gospel that does not always deliver you out of or remove you from crisis but supports you through them. 

Peter is writing to some folks who understand crisis and he gives some solid advice.

  • Who He is writing?
    • History shares with us during this time period that persecution had already begun under the terrible hand of Nero.
      • Nero blamed the Christians for setting fire to Rome. Several were arrested and under torture quickly gave up many more. As these were tried and found guilty Nero devised some of the most heinous means of executing judgement. From being torn apart by dogs as they were draped in animal skins to being lit on fire to illuminate his garden at night as they partied. Any bad thing, floods, droughts, earthquakes, sickness, bad hair, was blamed on the Christians and more would be rounded up and put through this nightmare. 
      • So as he is writing this, he understands those who are receiving this letter are facing some of the worst persecutions ever.
    • The first few verses are reminding them of whose they are and who they are. Then we get to the instruction.
  • It is important to know who you are and who you belong to.
    • All of us belong to one or the other.
      • Truth is truth rather you agree or believe it or not.
      •  We either belong to God to be used for good and great or to the devil to be used for evil and deception.
      • There is no in-between.
    • One of many verses, Paul shares with the church of Ephesus. Eph 2:2-5, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”
      • Knowing whose you are is the only way you know who you are!
  • Instruction (V3)
    • It is marked by what he declares Jesus’ resurrection brings. A living hope.
      • Peter insists that we can live in hope if we understand and believe the truth concerning the risen Christ.
      • Some might say I believe but have trouble. Listen to this.
    • Most of us relate to Peter because he was pretty open with his problems. Maybe we should say his problems were pretty obvious.
      •  Peter loved the Lord and all his hope was pinned on Jesus being the messiah that would deliver them from Roman rule.
      • Then one day it happened. The plan was set in motion. A late night raid, trumped up charges, a mock trial, the beating, the cross, the crown of thorns. 
      • Everything he believed in, everything he hoped for was taken down off the cross wrapped up in burial clothes and laid in a dark, cold tomb. Gone!
    • Peter understood what it was to have all hope lost. The gospels paint a picture of a man who was at a loss, dumbfounded, in shock.
      • Then he got news. He’s alive. Peter being raised in Missouri, of course said show me. And He did.
    • When Peter saw Jesus alive it overwhelmed him.
      •  The one whom he saw die, who laid dead three days then exploded from the grave by His own power conquering man’s greatest fear and enemy, death.
    • Peter here says I have got something to tell you about hope.
      •  His name is Jesus. He did what no one ever did. He is our Living Hope.
  • Then as if that isn’t enough He shares with us how sure our hope is.(V4)
    • Incorruptible.
      •  Our hope in Jesus cannot be tarnished.
      • Cannot be corrupted. Cannot be deceived or misled. 
    • Undefiled. 
      • It cannot be contaminated. It is pure, undefiled.
    • Fades not. 
      • Cannot be diminished. Perpetual. 
        • The energizer bunny has nothing on our Hope that is in Jesus of Nazareth.
    • Why because it rests in the powers of heaven not in the influences of man.
      • It is reserved, held fast for you!
    • If you choose to place your hope on the temporal it will become corrupted by the desires of man. 
      • If you choose to trust the things of this world it will become polluted with the fleeting times you live.
      • If you choose to pin your hopes here you will watch them slowly dwindle.
  • Security.(V5)
    • The thing most want out of life is security.
      • But we place our confidence in unsecure ways.
        • We continually buy into the lie of this world.
    • God is not asking us to be ignorant, naïve.
      • On the contrary He tells us: Mt 10:16, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
      • He is asking for confidence, trust, buy in to His Truth, which is the only Truth.”
    • The word kept, here carries with it an idea of being guarded by a garrison.
      • Nothing or no one can ever steal, destroy or mar it in any way.
    • (V6-9)
      • As Peter shares in the next few verses though we suffer for a time we can have a blessed hope to secure and support us.
    • It doesn’t matter what we are facing… 

Jesus walks through it with us caring for us, loving us, using us so others can find this Blessed Hope.

Do you really know Him? Trust Him? You can.

I know you have faced some difficult days. We can live in confidence if we place all our trust, buy in. Dive in and follow Him.

Sunday School 4/19/2020

Mrs. Joyce Hicks

April 19th

Luke 15: 11-32

  • And he said, A certain man had two sons:
  • And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
  • And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
  • And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
  • And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
  • And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
  • And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
  • I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
  • And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
  • And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
  • And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
  • But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
  • And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
  • For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
  • Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing.
  • And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
  • And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
  • And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
  • And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
  • But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
  • And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
  • It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Last week we talked about the parable of the “one little lost lamb” and the “lost coin” and how we should be rejoicing in the fact that we were once lost but now found and for “anyone” who is saved.  If you remember, the Pharisees were murmuring against Jesus for being with sinners, even eating with them.  Jesus continued to teach them using the parables, letting them know that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.  Even if it was someone the Scribes and Pharisees wouldn’t be seen with!  I don’t know about y’all, but I am very thankful that God doesn’t play that game. 

Jesus continues with his parable of “The Prodigal Son”.   Now, I’m sitting here thinking of how many different sermons and Sunday school lessons I have heard or read about this portion of scripture.  You can look at it from a lot of different angles.  But first, please read what Chuck Smith, David Guzik and John MacArthur have to say about it. 

So we so often hear marvelous sermons preached from the parable of the prodigal son, but rarely do we ever hear a message that really gives the true meaning of the parable, or the real reason for the parable. The reason wasn’t just to show the father receiving with joy a son that was lost, but the parable was used to show the Pharisees how wrong was their condemnation of Him when they said, “He receives sinners and eats with them.” They should have been rejoicing over it, rather than griping over it. – Chuck Smith

i. In each of the parables, the message to the tax collectors and sinners was clear: repent, come home to the father. The message to the religious leaders was also clear: be happy when the lost are found, when they repent and come home to the father. (Guzik)

Like the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin, this parable depicts God’s joy over the salvation of the lost.  But while the first two parables emphasize God’s part in seeking sinners this third one, while touching on God as the seeker, focuses more on the human aspect of salvation – man’s sin, rejection, repentance, and return to God.  It is a dramatic, moving story of the sinner’s desperate penitence and of God’s love and eager forgiveness for such sorrow. (MacArthur)

Pretty much hits the nail on the head!  Not sure what else I can say.  Nevertheless, I will do my best to pull out a few nuggets to discuss with you.

Wasn’t Jesus the ultimate story teller?

Three Characters of the story

  • Younger son
  • Father
  • Older son

FYI: According to what I can understand, under the law, when someone had 2 sons, the older son got 2/3rds of the inheritance and the younger son got 1/3rd.

Well, the younger son (spoiled probably – I am the youngest in my family so I can say this) was not happy at home evidently, so he asked his Father to please go ahead and give him his inheritance.  He wanted to see how the rest of the world lived!  His Father, probably reluctantly, gave him what he asked for.  

Now, our Heavenly Father, does this to us sometimes, He gives us what we ask for knowing that we will be learning a hard lesson.   (reminds me of that song, “Thank God for unanswered prayers”!)

Never paid attention to the fact that verse 12 says: and he divided unto THEM his living.  So I’m guessing that the father in this story kinda now had what we now call a “Life Estate” (continue to possess and use the property as a “life tenant” for as long as you live). Keep this in mind until we get to the part of the older brother!

Now can you imagine what the neighbors said? I’m sure news traveled fast about what was going on at the farm!

            Murmuring, Shame, Scorn, Disgraceful, Foolish, Dishonorable…..

It didn’t take the younger son long to get packed and get out of dodge.  He didn’t hang around home to spend his inheritance, he went to a far country.  

As MacArthur says “he wanted to sin beyond the range of all accountability, far away from his father and the villagers, who scorned him for his disgraceful behavior. His action symbolizes the foolishness of the sinner trying to flee from God, to whom he does not want to be answerable.”

And wasted his inheritance with riotous living.  He probably had a lot of “new found friends” to help him waste his inheritance.  But after he had spent it all, there happened along a mighty famine in that far country.  And he began to get hungry!  I’m sure all his new friends had all went their separate ways after the money run out.  Here he was, alone, and hungry. 

He was so hungry and desperate that he actually took a job feeding swine.  Now you know he was pretty desperate to do that.  Jews were not allowed to do anything that involved pigs! 

Now as he was feeding the pigs, he was so hungry that he was even considering joining the pigs for supper!

This being on your own stuff wasn’t as great as he had imagined.  He found himself bankrupt, empty, destitute, hungry, alone with no one to help him.  Can you imagine what was going through his mind. What am I going to do? I’ve really messed up this time. Oh if I could just go back to my Father’s house!  

In verse 17, scripture says, “He came to himself”.  He had an “aha” moment.

  • MacArthur says “the younger son’s actions picture the kind of repentance that can lead to salvation.  He came to his senses and realized that his situation was desperate.  He remembered his father’s goodness, compassion, generosity, and mercy and trusted in them.  In the same way, the repentant sinner takes stock of his situation and acknowledges his need to turn from his sin.  He realizes that there is no one to turn to except the Father whom he has shamed and dishonored and by faith, with nothing to offer, turns to Him for forgiveness and reconciliation on the basis of His grace.

Now, the younger son is thinking….if I was to go back home, my Father will hopefully at least let me be one of his hired servants. 

Verse 18-19 is his rehearsal speech to his Father. 

I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants.

I don’t know how long it took him to get back home, there is no telling how many times he rehearsed this in his mind on the way. 

Haven’t we all done this.  Rehearsed in our mind what we will say to someone.  It rarely turns out the way we had rehearsed it! This was no exception.

Verse 20 says… when he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

I love this verse.  This is a picture of what God does when we finally come to our senses and repent and come back to Him! 

In Verse 21 he tells his father what he has been rehearsing in this heart and mind.  But the Father was just so glad to have him back home where he belonged (verse 22-24) says that he told his servants: Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feetAnd bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merryFor this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.  

  • Shoes on the feet were significant, because the slaves were never given shoes, only the family members, the son. Slaves were never given shoes by their masters. That is why in that old Negro spiritual that came out of the slave days, “You gotta shoes, I gotta shoes, all God’s children got shoes. When we get to heaven gonna put on our shoes.” I am not going to be a slave any more. I am a son. I am a child of God. And that hymn looked forward to that day when they would have shoes. They would be acclaimed the sons of God in that heavenly kingdom. That was just one thing about slavery, you never gave your slave a pair of shoes. – Chuck Smith
  • I thought this was interesting.  Most of the sermons or lessons you hear on this parable highlight the robe, ring and fatted calf.

Can you imagine what the Pharisees and Scribes were thinking at this moment?

  • How could he have just welcomed him back like that? 
  • He should have maintained his honor by refusing to see him. 
  • Make him wait for a few days in shame.
  • He should make him work to repay the inheritance he has squandered.

Probably thinking of all the rabbis’ teachings of that day that would have required such things.

But the Father!  Oh how he loved him.  He was watching and waiting for him to come home.  Can you just imagine him sitting out on the porch each day just hoping that today would be the day that his son would come back home.  He had probably rehearsed in his mind what his actions would be too.  And they were nothing like what the prodigal son had imagined. 

Finally, he sees his son coming!  He takes off running. Now that in itself was unheard of. Especially for a man of his status.  In order to run you had to gather up the long robe and in doing so, your legs were exposed, which was considered shameful. But he didn’t care about that.  He only knew that this, his son, was back home.

Did you notice that the son didn’t say the part about “make me one of your hired servants”?  He didn’t have to. Why?

MacArthur tells us why? “Because there was no need to work to earn restoration and reconciliation.  His father had received him back as a son.  He did not have to crawl back one day at a time into his father’s good graces, but was instantly forgiven, given mercy, and already reconciled.  The son’s reception is a true illustration of believers, who come in by repentance and faith directed toward God, pleading for His grace and forgiveness apart from works – and receiving full sonship.

Now the older brother (who had by the way, been home with the Father all this time, working the family farm, being obedient!) came home and asked what was going on.  When he found out, he was very mad and stayed outside and pouted.  His true feelings came to the surface. 

He should have been thrilled to see that his younger brother was back home, safe and sound. But he wasn’t.  He, of course, represents the scribes and Pharisees in this story and does a good job at it.  Jesus was good at casting the right person to portray them!  You ever watch a movie and say “gosh, they really play that part well”. Well, the older brother really played the part well of the scribes and Pharisees.  I’m sure they were really into this part of the story. 

The Father came out to see why he wouldn’t come in and celebrate, but I guess this was the breaking point of the older son.  He had probably been rehearsing in his mind for a while too what he would say if given the opportunity.  Bitterness can get to you after a while.

 There was a sense in which the older son was obedient, yet far from his father’s heart. In this sense he was a perfect illustration of the religious leaders who were angry that Jesus received tax collectors and sinners. “His story reveals the possibility of living in the father’s house and failing to understand the father’s heart.” (Morgan)

Wow! 

The problem with the older son was that he was lost.  He too needed to come back to his Father.

Verse 31-32 is the father’s response.

  • And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
  • It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Remember earlier we talked about the “life estate” that the Father had in the family farm.  He had dispersed it to his two sons but still had the right to live there.  “All that I have is thine”.  Remember, the younger son had taken his part, now the whole farm technically belonged to the older brother.  The older brother had been “working” the farm all this time.  He felt he had earned the right for his Father to throw him a party.

Isn’t that a picture of working for your salvation.  The younger son realized that he couldn’t handle this world by himself, he still needed his Father.  He came to his senses (realized that he was a sinner) and came back to his Father.  The older brother, of course, felt like he had earned his place with his Father. 

So, what can we learn from this parable?

Repentance?

Compassion?

Forgiveness?

Envy, Jealousy, Bitterness, Anger, Pouting?

Faith saves, not works

Remember that the whole 15th chapter of Luke is Jesus’s response to the Scribes and Pharisees after they were “murmuring” about his receiving sinners and tax collectors.  We should be thrilled every time a soul is saved.  No matter who they are or what the world perceives them to be.

May God help us that we will not have a Pharisaical attitude towards the work of God in receiving sinners, because maybe He is receiving them at some other church in the county rather than here. It doesn’t matter where He receives them. Let us rejoice that He is receiving them. Let us pray that God will send a great spiritual wakening throughout the county in every church. Let us not be so shortsighted and narrow-minded that we are only praying for God’s blessing upon Calvary Chapel, NEW HOPE. But let us begin to really pray that God will revive His church throughout this entire county and that sinners would be brought to Christ, that the Lord might receive sinners anywhere and everywhere, that there might be revival. – Chuck Smith

(I took the liberty to insert NEW HOPE!)

Ok, so, what did the older brother do? I’ll leave you with that question.  Jesus’ story doesn’t tell us.  So let me hear what you think happened?