Sunday, June 3, 2018, the Year of Our Lord

Pastor Carolyn Sissom

Luke 15: 11-32


I heard the Holy Spirit preaching this message to me on Saturday morning.  As I pondered this wonderful parable of grace and forgiveness, I made a statement/question to the LORD.  “Lord the prodigals are coming home?”


Only in the book of Luke do we find the story of the prodigal son, the Good Samaritan, the Wedding Banquet, the Shepherds of Bethlehem, and other amazing teachings.


The Gospel According to Luke is a mercy gospel.  We all need mercy; and the grace to demonstrate mercy to those who wronged us knowingly or unknowingly.


I am using the Passion translation today just because I have a new Bible and it is beautiful. 


15: 11-13:  Then Jesus said, “Once there was a father with two sons.  The younger son came to his father and said, ‘Father don’t you think it’s time to give me the share of your estate that belongs to me?’  So the father went ahead and distributed among the two sons (them) their inheritance.  Shortly afterward, the younger son packed up all his belongings and traveled off to see the world.  He journeyed to a far-off land where he soon wasted all he was given in a binge of extravagant and reckless living.


The happy home---the kind father and his two sons---the younger son wishing, like many foolish boys/girls, to have his own way, thinking it would be nice and pleasant to do just as he liked.  A female can also be a prodigal. 


In the light of Middle Eastern culture, it was a great offense for a son to ask his father for his inheritance.  It would be equivalent to saying, “I wish you were dead.”


The Greek is literally, “He (the father) gave them his life.”


15: 14-16:  With everything spent and nothing left, the son grew hungry, for there was a severe famine in that land.  So he begged a farmer in that country to hire him.  The farmer hired him and set him out to feed the pigs.  The son was so famished, he was willing to even eat the husks given to the pigs; because no one would feed him a thing.


(Being a swineherd would have been abhorrent to Jesus’ Jewish audience, who considered swine unclean animals.)


No kind voice was there to speak to him; no pillow for his aching head but the withered leaves of the grassy sod.  He was free once; now he is a slave.  Though no ear can hear him in that lonely place, and no hand can help him; yet, in his misery, he lifts up his eyes, streaming with tears, and cries---I perish with hunger.   Suddenly as if he awoke from a troubled dream, he came to himself as if a ray of light had flashed in the midnight darkness, he recalls the old, loved, happy home, with its scenes of mirth,---the halls where the banquet used to be held, the gardens where amid the beauty and fragrance of flowers, children played.  Above all, the bright faces that used to smile upon him, and chief among these his kind father---the smile of the father he had forsaken, and whose heart he had broken.


15:17-19:  Humiliated, the son finally realized what he was doing, and he thought, “There are many workers at my father’s house who have all the food they want with plenty to spare.  They lack nothing.  Why am I here dying of hunger, feeding these pigs and eating husks.  I want to go back home to my father’s house, and I’ll say to him, “Father, I was wrong.  I have sinned against you.  I’ll never be worthy to be called your son.  Please, Father, just treat me like one of your servants.”


Because of his betrayal, he did not hope to be received as a son again.  The meanest drudgery in the house of his father would be happiness and freedom compared to how far he had fallen.


Then he arose and set off for home, from a long distance.


 What is taking place all this time in his old home?  Has the father he has so wronged forgotten him?  Or, more likely, does he hate him? And if ever they met again would he have only words of harshness and rejection to say to him?  Has he given orders to his servants that if ever the ungrateful boy comes to the gate, or knocks at the door, he is to be driven away?


Oh no!  It is quite the reverse.  That wronged and injured father, during the sad, weary weeks and months or it may be years of his son’s absence, was always thinking about him, and had nothing all the while but love---a Father’s love---in his heart.  The Father, it may be, had gone, time after time, to the top of the hill, that he might look eagerly along the far-stretching plains or valley, to see if there was any appearance of his lost child!


One day---one evening---the father was standing on the hillside, and he sees at a distance, his son.


15: 20-21: His father saw him coming, dressed as a beggar, and great compassion swelled up in his heart for his son who was returning home.  So the father raced out to meet him.  He swept him up in his arms, hugged him dearly, and kissed him over and over with tender love.  Then the son, said, “Father I was wrong.  I have sinned against you.  I could never deserve to be called your son, just let me be---.  The father interrupted and said; “Son your home now!”


The Father does not give an answer to the son, but he turns round to the scene of the servants of the household, who had joined them, and says to them:


15: 22-24:  Quickly bring me the best robe, my very own robe, and I will place it on his shoulders.  Bring the ring, the seal of son-ship, and I will put it on his finger.  Bring out the best sandals you can find for my son.  Let’s prepare a great feast and celebrate.  For this beloved son of mine, was once dead, but now he is alive.  Once he was lost, but now he is found!  Everyone celebrated with overflowing joy.” 


Kill the fatted calf; gather the minstrels into the hall for music, dancing and song.


In the Middle East, the ring was an emblem of authority, giving the son authority to transact business in the father’s name. 


15:25-26: The older son was out working in the field when his brother returned, and as he approached the house he heard the music of celebration and dancing.  He called over one of the servants to ask what is going on.  The servant replied, it’s your younger brother.  He returned home and your father is throwing a party to celebrate his homecoming.  The older son became angry and refused to go in and celebrate.  So his father came out and pleaded with him, “Come and enjoy the feast with us.”  The son said, “Father, listen! How many years have I been working like a slave for you, performing every duty you’ve asked as a faithful son? And I’ve never once disobeyed you.  But you have never thrown a party for me because of my faithfulness.  Never once have you even given me a goat that I could feast on and celebrate with my friends like he is dong now.  But look at this son of yours!  He comes back after wasting your wealth on prostitutes and reckless living, and here you are throwing a great feast to celebrate---for him!  The father, said, “My son, you are always with me by my side.  Everything I have is yours to enjoy.  It is only right to celebrate like this and be overjoyed because this brother of yours was once dead and gone, but now he is alive and back with us again.  He was lost, but now he is found.”


Both sons needed the revelation of grace and unconditional love of the Father.  The younger brother pursued his own selfish lusts.  The older son thinks in terms of “Law, merit, and reward,” rather than “love, forgivness, and graciousness.” 


The father, who represents our Heavenly Father, implies to the older son that his love for both sons is not dependent upon their perfection, but their willingness to return to Him with a broken and contrite spirit.  We can even say the older brother was also hurt and even wounded that his younger brother abandoned him as well as the father.  He is harboring bitterness and unforgiveness toward the younger brother.


The parable also points to the spirit of the Pharisees who were far from rejoicing that outcasts and sinners were finding blessing of restoration.  The Pharisees murmured saying, This man welcomes sinners, and eats with them.  


If we are in a season when the Holy Spirit is bringing in the prodigals, is the spirit of the Pharisees in the church?  Is the church ready to receive the prodigals with open arms?  These prodigals may have wronged Christian brothers and sisters just as the prodigal wronged his brother and his father.


The triumphant and overcoming church will become the One Man of Ephesians 4:13:   Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.


This is a corporate man, Christ and His mature Bride bringing forth the One New Man of Gal. 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.


Are we vessels of mercy or vessels of wrath?  I have been asking the Lord to remove some vessels of wrath in our government.  But, he is using those vessels of wrath to polish and refine the vessels of mercy…by the very love, mercy and truth we will walk in, we will be Christ’s weapon to destroy the evil. 


Just as the Father of the Prodigal was long suffering, let us remember God’s mercy and grace toward us and not be as the Pharisees judging by “Law, merit and reward.”  Each one of us who has been faithful to our LORD in service and ministry will have to receive the prodigals as brothers and sisters.  You are the ones who have received the crowns.  You are the ones who will receive the scepter and the inheritance.  We have all that the Father has.  Let us receive the prodigals and welcome them home.


“In the fullness of time, God brought forth His Only Begotten, whom men slew and hung upon a tree.  There and then God condemned the world, and with it all the hate, the murder, the strife, and the violence that exists in the hearts of men.  But God said, I have yet many more Vessels of Mercy that I must bring forth, for my glory.  So, like the Father of the Prodigal, he has waited and waited, and all the while He has known and experienced great long suffering, anticipating the day of glory when His people of Mercy would arise in the earth, to put an end to the reign of terror and evil, by overcoming the evil of the world with Mercy, Truth and Love.


God has more sons, the man-child company.  They are vessels of mercy.  They overcome, even as their Lord and Savior overcame.  They walk in heaven, even as they move upon the earth…as Jesus did when He was here.  They are known in heavenly places, because they love even as He loved, live even as He lived, show mercy even as He showed mercy, forgive even as He forgave, are meek and lowly even as He was meek and lowly.  Because they live as He lived, they are hated even as He was hated. 


We are surely in the Day of the Lord, when the sentence of the Cross shall be executed in all its fury and in all its mercy, all its darkness and all its light; all its deception and all its truth. 


The truth of God will crowd all men into one of two areas; into the darkness and death of a world that hates God, or into the light and the glory of people who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, and bow in submission to his feet.” (George H. Warnock, Who are You?)


Let us check our hearts to be sure we are clean of the spirit of a Pharisee.


Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries Church

Scripture from The Passion Translation by: Dr. Brian Simmons; quote as indicated by George H. Warnock, Who are You?; comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those who I entered into their labors.

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