Sermon Notes: Two Brothers or The Father?

Below are my sermon notes from Luke 15:11-32 that was preached at Hesston MB Church this morning. 

Introduction: Cain/Abel, Jacob/Esau, Rameses/Moses, Kevin/Buzz (Home Alone), Mufasa/Scar, Crosby & Adam (Parenthood), Randall & Kevin (This is Us). Brothers. We have read or watched the interactions of these brothers.  Many times they seem so opposite.  We tend to relate most with the brother most like us.  In today’s scripture we hear a parable about two sons.  The story is familiar, but hopefully the Holy Spirit guides us to a deeper understanding this morning.

Background-Our parable this morning comes from a series of parables about things that were lost (sheep, coin). It has often been known as “Parable of the Prodigal Son or Lost Son” Look in your Bibles—is that the title?  This title however skews our understanding of the point of the parable because it brings our focus on one character and we miss out on the other two characters.  In a conference I attended on the parables, Chad Bird said, “We have done a disservice to the parables by naming them. Why? We direct our thoughts and interpretation based on what it is named….”

Younger Brother

·         How do you define prodigal?  In my mind, prodigal means bad.  How about you? American Heritage Dictionary defines prodigal as recklessly wasteful; extravagant. Is that a description of this younger son?

·         Vs. 12-Younger son requests his inheritance

o   perfectly legal…It was as though he were saying to his father, “I wish you were dead!”[1]

o   In Jewish law the oldest son 2/3,  the rest was divided among the other children,[2]

·         Vs. 13-He left and squandered his wealth on wild living

o   This is where the title comes from—in NKJV translated as prodigal. Greek word is defined as marked by lack of proper caution: careless of consequences, irresponsible[3], riotous.

o   He chose his way vs. God’s way

o   Sin promises freedom, but it only brings slavery[4]

·         Vs. 14-Famine hit and he was in need

·         Vs. 15-16-Went to work for a pig farmer, he wanted to eat the slop

·         Vs. 17-When he came to his senses…

o   Don’t mistake this phrase as repentance.  Notice what is really is—he is hungry

o   inspired by what he knows of his Father.[5]

·         Vs. 18-19-Rehearses his speech “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.”

·         Vs. 20-So he returned

·         Vs. 21-He begins the speech…

·         Before we become obsessed with this son and make the point—don’t be a prodigal, let’s look at other son.

Older Brother

·         I am the oldest in my family so I see myself in Adam Braverman.  I am a rule follower and somewhat of a perfectionist so I relate to Randall.

·         Vs. 25-27-Working, heard music and dancing, asked servant “what is going on?”

o   Notice he did not go ask the Father himself but sent a servant instead

o   illustration of the scribes and Pharisees.[6]

·         Vs. 28-Became angry and refused to go in

o   Older brothers are good at saying, “That’s not fair!” Recently at our house, there was a debate about birth order.  Each kid was positive that being the oldest, middle or youngest was hardest. I remember having the same discussion in my house as a kid and saying “Abbie never has to do anything, she always gets her way, you let her do more than I ever could.”

o   In the notes in Gospel Transformation Bible, “Spiritually, this can cause those who are rule followers and who seek to obey to be “Stingy about the grace being applied to others…Our compassion toward others is a good indicator of how well we understand our own need for grace.

·         Vs. 29-30-I have been slaving for you, never disobeyed, you never gave me a goat for a party, the younger son who squandered, you reward him

o   Been slaving for you-- religion of good works, He believed his work merited or earned him something. 

o   Never disobeyed you-- defined sin primarily in terms of outward actions, not inward attitudes.[7]

o   You never…--really?

o   Focus on younger brother’s sins-- they failed to see that they themselves also needed the Saviour.[8]

·         Sermons often focus on which brother are you, debating about good vs. bad, but in this inward focus have we missed the most important character—the Father? The parable is not ultimately about us, the parable is about God, but because of how it has been named, we have missed God Himself.

·         Each one, in other words, rebelled—but one did so by being very bad and the other by being extremely good. Both were alienated from the father’s heart; both were lost sons. (Tim Keller, The Prodigal God)

Father

·         Vs. 12-The Father gives inheritance

o   He could have said no. He probably knew his son would make bad choices.

·         Let’s return to American Heritage Dictionary definition recklessly wasteful; extravagant. Also profuse in giving; exceedingly abundant, lavish

·         Vs. 20-His father saw him, filled with compassion, ran to him, hugged & kissed him

o   The Father has been waiting.

o   In the East, old men do not run.[9]

o   Compassion--Quality of showing kindness or favor, of being gracious, or of having pity or mercy.[10]  to have the bowels yearn[11]

·         Vs. 22-24-BUT—get best robe, ring & sandals, Let’s have a party and celebrate, my son was dead and is now alive, lost but now found

o   It is God’s goodness…that leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4).[12]

o   Shows acceptance without any discussion

§  The father never did permit the younger son to finish his confession; he stopped him, and said let’s party!

§  The ring was a sign of sonship, and the “best robe” (no doubt the father’s) was proof of his acceptance back into the family [13]

·         Vs. 28-Father goes out to the older son & pleads with him

o   The Father loves both sons and wants a relationship with both.

·         Vs. 31-You were always with me, everything I have is yours

o   The older son did not realize that being with his father was its own reward.[14], abiding

·         Vs. 32-we had to celebrate because he was dead and is now alive, lost but now found

Closing: I want you to choose one aspect of the Father from this parable and focus on it for the next few minutes. 

This parable reminds us how God the Son, Jesus wants to be in relationship with us whether we are the youngest or oldest son.  He is pursuing us-this is evident in how He left heaven to come and rescue us. Jesus shows us grace even when we deserve punishment. He offers mercy when wrath is expected.  May we leave from here this morning being reminded that abiding or being with Jesus is its own reward.



[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 234). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[2] Lenski, R. C. H. (1961). The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel (p. 808). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House.
[3] Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc.
[4] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 235). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[5] Lenski, R. C. H. (1961). The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel (p. 814). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House.
[6] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 236). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[7] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 236). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[8] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 237). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[9] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 235). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[10] Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Compassion. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 504). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
[11] Strong, J. (2009). A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Vol. 1, p. 66). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
[12] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 235). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[13] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 236). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[14] Engelbrecht, E. A. (2009). The Lutheran Study Bible (p. 1748). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.

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