Sunday, April 17, 2022

The Parable of the Prodigal Son: The Resurrected Son

“Well over three hundred verses are concerned with the subject of Jesus' resurrection in the New Testament. We are told that this event is a sign for unbelievers (Matthew 12:38-40); cf. John 20:24-29) as well as the answer for the believer's doubt (Luke 24:38-43). It serves as the guarantee that Jesus' teachings are true (Acts 2:22-24; 1 Corinthians 15:12-20) and is the center of the gospel itself (Romans 4:24-25, 10:9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Further, the resurrection is the impetus for evangelism (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 10:39-43), the key indication of the believer's daily power to live the Christian life (Rom. 6:4-14, 8:9-11; Phil. 3:10) and the reason for the total commitment of our lives (Rom. 7:4; 1 Cor. 15:57-58). The resurrection even addresses the fear of death (John 11:25; 1 Cor. 15:54-58; cf. Hebrews 2:14-15) and is related to the second coming of Jesus (Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7). Lastly, this event is a model of the Christian's resurrection from the dead (Acts 4:2; 1 Cor. 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and provides a foretaste of heaven for the believer (Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Peter 1:3-5).” -Gary R. Habermas & J.P. Moreland, Immortality - The Other Side of Death, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992, p. 245.

Happy Resurrection Sunday brothers and sisters, He Is Risen! Jesus Christ is alive right now. He is present in this room. He is alive in our hearts. He is alive in heaven right now. He is currently present at hundreds of thousands of church services around the world right now. He is our Living Lord and King.

The Resurrection is central to everything we believe as followers of the Messiah. It is the truth about God, ourselves, and the world around us. Christ is resurrected, and in a similar way, each of us has been resurrected from sin and the flesh, and are now burning brightly with an inner light of the Spirit that is leading us ever closer each day toward the kingdom of God eternal.

Today we are resurrection people. And so I think it’s fitting that today we study a parable about death and new life, the parable of the prodigal son.

This is probably the most famous and most well known of all the parables. I’ve listened to many sermons about it. I’ve viewed paintings depicting the moments within it. I even once saw a play called “A Long Way Off” and the entire story was of the parable of the prodigal son.

One might call it the resurrected son. Since today is a day in which we celebrate the most important of Christian holidays, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we ought to consider two truths today: 1, the resurrection of the prodigal son. And 2, the resurrection of Christ.

We were once all fleeing, prodigal, but, Christ resurrected, and this made a way for our own resurrection. That is wonderful beyond words.

One more thing, last week we talked about the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the lost coin, and it’s important to note that in scripture, in Luke’s gospel, we see the prodigal son parable immediately after these two. They are definitely all linked together with a common thread of truth. But it’s also interesting to note that the prodigal son parable is only listed in Luke, it doesn’t appear in any of the other gospels.

The Parable begins like this, from Luke 15:11-13: “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.”

He’s headed out. He’s taking his inheritance early, and off he goes. It’s a fairly common theme in our society. One gains great wealth, and that person squanders it with bad decisions. Did you know that most people who win the lottery end up losing everything? That’s right, about 70% of lottery winners, according to readers digest, will spend it all within 5 years. Many will end up in debt, lose everything, with broken marriages, and become addicted to drugs.

God often does us a great service by not giving us everything we want.

Wealth goes beyond paper money though. Our wealth is our health, our relationships, our friendships, our job, our skills, and abilities. These are all gifts from God. And how many of us, squandered those gifts, that wealth, before we knew Christ. We spent it on foolish things. We used our gifts to build our own stuff, instead of what God wanted us to use it for. Let’s continue.

It says, “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.”

Similar to the younger son, each of us came to a point of desperation in our lives. The self-way of life did not work. It did not function properly. It was a failure. And we ended up in a dark spot, a dark spot mentally, a dark spot spiritually, a dark spot emotionally, and we needed something different.

Pause for a minute. What if the father had been sending him checks in the mail this whole time? What if he had been bailing him out of jail over and over again? What if he had been sending him money so he could buy more prostitutes and booze? How could he ever reach a point of desperation? We can’t always try to rescue our prodigals. There’s a balance there, I think.

It says in verses 17-20: “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.”

He came to his senses. God helps us to come to our senses as well, that we need Him. We tried life with ourselves as god and master, and it didn’t work. We ended up alone and desperate and miserable. So we have a spiritual awakening, we realize we can still go home. We realize there is a better way, the way of Jesus.

We figure, we’ll go back and God will let us work in a field somewhere for him, do hard labor. But instead we see something very special happen. It says in verses 20b-24: “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.”

The same is true for those of us who came humbly back to God seeking His mercy, admitting were a sinner, and asking for His mercy. We receive His mercy certainly. But we receive much more than that, we receive new life, we receive adoption to sonship. We receive the promises of God, which are all yes in Christ. We receive resurrection from the dead.

Interesting how the Father says it in the parable, “This son of mine was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found.” Resurrection from the dead. That is what we receive in Christ.

But the parable doesn’t end there. It includes an additional warning, in regard to the older son, it says, verses 25-32:

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.’”

We see at the end of the parable that the older brother is refusing to go in. He’s angry because he’s been faithful all these years and now he’s jealous of his brother getting a big party. It’s a good reminder that when a terrible sinner comes into the church and receives God’s mercy we shouldn’t be jealous or angry. We should celebrate. Because it’s open to anyone, and it doesn’t matter if it’s moments before their death in old age or when they’re young. It’s a huge blessing.

I think this also references Jews and Gentiles, the Gentiles being awful sinners are going in after wicked living and the Jews who practiced rigorous adherence to the 10 commandments and the OT law are refusing to go in and provoked to jealousy. It’s interesting the parable ends without telling us if the older brother goes in or not.

All this should inevitably point us to Jesus Christ. Jesus never sinned, yet he was put to death, and was crucified. But Jesus didn’t stay dead. Jesus resurrected from the dead. And that’s what we celebrate today.

We understand and know that Jesus is alive today. But what if Jesus isn’t really alive? What would that mean? Well, we would be fools for being here.

Thankfully… Jesus Christ is alive. And we have good evidence to believe. Along those lines, to close today, I’d like to share a powerful quotation from Kurt E. DeHaan: “Why We Believe Jesus Rose from the Dead: If Jesus did not rise from the dead, the Christian faith is a foolish fantasy. However, if the resurrection of Christ did occur, it confirms His life, message, and atoning work. It is the basis of our hope of life beyond the grave. Christ is alive, and the evidence is overwhelming. Here are some of the reasons we can be so sure.

1. Jesus predicted His resurrection (Matt 16:21; Mark 9:9-10; John 2:18-22).

2. The Old Testament prophesied it (Psalm 16:10; compare Acts 2:25-31; 13:33-37).

3. The tomb was empty and the grave clothes vacant. if those who opposed Christ wished to silence His disciples, all they had to do was produce a body, but they could not (John 20:3-9).

4. Many people saw the resurrected Christ. They looked on His face, touched Him, heard His voice, and saw Him eat (Matt. 28:16-20; Luke 24:13-39; John 20:11-29; John 21:1-9; Acts 1:6-11; 1 Cor. 15:3-8).

5. The lives of the disciples were revolutionized. Though they fled and even denied Christ at the time of His arrest, they later feared no one in their proclamation of the risen Christ (Matt 26:56, 69-75).6. The resurrection was the central message of the early church. The church grew with an unwavering conviction that Christ had risen and was the Lord of the church (Acts 4:33; 5:30-32; Rom. 5:24).

6. Men and women today testify that the power of the risen Christ has transformed their lives. We know that Jesus is alive not only because of the historical and biblical evidence but also because He has miraculously touched our lives.”

We only have the option of the path of the prodigal son, because Jesus our messiah was crucified and resurrected from the dead. He is alive. And He is our only hope for salvation. We can all be prodigals who were dead, and now live again, because of Jesus resurrection.