The Prodigal Father by Pastor Dave
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
John 3: 16-17
Luke 15: 11-32
The parable of the Lost Son. At some point you may have heard it called the parable of the Prodigal Son; but do you know the meaning of the word prodigal? The dictionary defines the word in the following way – ‘generous, lavish, bountiful, wastefully extravagant, to spend money or give resources freely and recklessly.’ When we look to this definition we begin to see that this parable tells us a lot about the Prodigal Father; God Himself. To grasp this truth let us first look at the two sons, in effect at ourselves.
The younger son, dissatisfied with his lot, exercises his free will and asks for his inheritance. He then takes his leave for another land where he ‘squandered his wealth in wild living,’ (vs.13). Soon he is living in squalor feeding pigs. He ‘comes to his senses’ and in genuine humility returns in repentance to his Father. Humankind is reflected in this son. Living outside of our intended relationship with God, not in His Kingdom, we find ourselves in spiritual poverty. We too need to come to our senses and return to our Father.
The second son is in a relationship with his Father but is angry and indignant at his Father’s welcome for his wayward brother (vs. 28). Perhaps in pride and self-righteous self-justification he sees himself worthy and his brother not. Many of us may see ourselves in this son and feel sympathy with him. What we really see though is a son who does not fully understand his Father’s love and who is not living in the fullness of a blessed relationship with Him (vs. 31).
So we turn to the Father. The Father did not have to divide up the estate at his son’s request. He did not have to look for that son’s return nor run down the road to welcome him with open arms (only children ran, elders walked). He laid aside His honour twice and provided a lavish celebration for the wayward son. The Father with all his wealth, love and provision was always present for the second son, whether or not that son realised his rich position. In neither case did the Father force his love on His sons but was present in abundant, boundless and inexhaustible love wanting the absolute best for His children. This is our loving Prodigal Father God who loves the world so much that He sent His Son in love not to condemn us but to save us (John 3: 16-17). Our part, as with the sons in the parable, is to see who our Father is, to believe and return to Him – to wallow in His extravagant love in a very real relationship.
To Ponder: In which son do you see yourself most reflected? Meditate on our Father God’s love for us by unpacking His love that we see in the parable and in John 3: 16-17. How does this love welcome and encompass you?
Prayer: Almighty God, you have broken the tyranny of sin and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts whereby we call you Father: give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service, that we may be brought to the glorious liberty of the children of God; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy spirit, one God now and forever. Amen
Praise: How deep the Father’s love for us
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzQj7XvKFmA
Wisdom Personified (By Chris Barnes)
In the pages of Proverbs, Wisdom is personified as a woman who calls out to the son, inviting him into a mentoring relationship with her so she can impart instruction, understanding, good judgement, and discernment. She promises success, insight, and wealth. She describes being the architect of the creation of the world and dwelling with God from all eternity. But most importantly, she says that whoever finds her finds life.
While this Wisdom is good and pure and life-giving, she does not tolerate rejection. “They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them,” she says. “Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their schemes” (1: 30-31). She knows that those who reject her head down a dangerous path.
When we come to the New Testament, we discover exactly whom Lady Wisdom was pointing us toward. We see it from the earliest accounts of Jesus, when he stayed behind in the synagogue to discuss theology with the teachers of the law. Even though he was only twelve years old, “All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:47). Jesus “grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people” (2:52). Throughout his teaching ministry, one of Jesus’ primary teaching methods was the parable. The Greek word translated as “parable” in the New Testament is a translation of the Hebrew word for “proverb”. In other words, Jesus was a teacher of wisdom.
The Gospels demonstrate Jesus’ wisdom, and Paul went a step further, asserting that Jesus was the very incarnation of God’s wisdom. Twice Paul identified Jesus with God’s wisdom. To the Corinthians he wrote: “For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself” (1 Corinthians 1: 30). And to the Colossians he proclaimed that in Christ “lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).
The Wisdom who beckons us into relationship and offers us understanding and wealth is none other than Jesus Christ. This is where true wisdom is found.
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out” (Romans 11: 33).
Prayer – Jesus, I hear you calling to me, offering me everything I need for life if I will come to you and listen to you. So teach me everything you have for me. Impart your wisdom generously to me and make me wise in your ways.
The Wise Way (By Chris Barnes)
Wisdom is a word that is often tossed around in the wind today. Many assume to be wise and many desire to find true wisdom. But really, what is true wisdom?
Through reading the book of Proverbs, we get to listen in on a father giving advice to his son about how to live life, avoid pitfalls, and achieve success. Over and over, the father points out to the son that two “ways” or two “paths” are open to him, and that he will have to choose one or the other.
One choice is the way of wisdom, which leads to life in its fullest sense. God is with those who are on this path; he protects them from danger. “He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him” (Proverbs 2:8).
The other choice is the way of folly. This path is called “dark” (2:13) and “crooked” (2:15). Its dangers include the evil people who take pleasure in doing wrongs, and hidden snares that may appear good but ultimately only bring harm. Most significant, however, is the path’s destination – destruction. “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death” (14:12).
Jesus also spoke often of two choices, two ways of living and two paths. In the Sermon on the Mount, he talked about two roads, warned that people cannot serve two masters, and described two builders, one who was wise and one who was foolish. “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate,” Jesus said. “The highway to destruction is broad, and its gate is wide for the many people who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it” (Matthew 7: 13-14).
Whereas Proverbs describes a way of wisdom that leads to life and to God, Jesus defined that way in much more personal terms. He said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14: 6). The decision, as Jesus made clear, is not merely a matter of behavior or companions, but a choice about how we respond to him, whether or not we choose him as our path and our life.
Let us never look back once we find the wise pathway that embodies truth and life.
Prayer – Path to life, Way of Wisdom, I turn to run in your direction, knowing that only as I walk in you will I find joy and peace, satisfaction and security. Your Word is a lamp to my feet as I walk this path, enabling me to see your beauty and your worth, convincing me of the folly of any path that takes me in another direction.
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.