The parable of the prodigal son is very popular but also very misunderstood. It's about the grace of the Father.
“Til sin be bitter, grace cannot be sweet.
In order to celebrate God’s grace, you need to see your sin and our need for Him.”
Celebrating the Father’s Grace
Context: Jesus is with tax collectors and sinners as well as Pharisees. There is a contrast between messy immoral people with the righteous and holy. The parable helps both sinners and Pharisees see God's grace.
How would these two groups see Jesus’ parable?
God's grace covers our immorality 11-24
Parable: Man has younger son and older son. The inheritance is divided into thirds. Older son got double portion, younger son gets the third. NO ONE ever asks for their share of the inheritance before the father dies, because it is essentially wishing his father was dead! The father divided his property (his “bios”) and gave it to his son. In a few days later, he wastes his money recklessly. (Prodigal means reckless and wasteful.) The son turns to being a farmhand, working with pigs and desiring to eat the pigs’ food. (For context: pigs were ceremonially unclean and dirty.) (For the Pharisees, they would have liked the parable to end there.) While the son is still FAR AWAY, the Father RUNS UP TO HIM (not even waiting for his son!!!) and shows COMPASSION, repeatedly kissing him. The son receives the ROBE of the FATHER, and the FAMILY RING, and SHOES (which signifies a free person, not a slave)The son is has been instantly reinstated as part of the family again. No longer a slave and a stranger.
God's grace covers our morality
What does this mean for us? Are we the prodigal or righteous son? Do you clean yourself up before going to God, not seeing His grace as sufficient? How’s your prayer life? Are you dependent on Him?
“Our worst days are never so bad that we are beyond God’s grace. Our best days are never so good we are beyond the need of God’d grace.”
The two sons are the opposite sides of the same coin. Both are after the father’s things. They wanted their inheritance, not him. They just do it in different ways. The older brother obeys to get his inheritance; his actions are not out of love.
Grace is sufficient for both morality and immorality. God pursues the lost.
Both of these sons believed what they had done in the past determined their value. The younger son saw his value as low because he messed up. The older son saw his value as high because he didn’t.
If you ground yourself in feelings and not truth, you’ll never experience joy.
Look at who God is and what God has done first, because that is what determines who we are.
A good older brother would have gone to look for the younger brother.
Hebrews 2: Christ is our perfect older brother. He came FOR US, unlike the older brother in the story. Christ becomes what the younger son thought he was. He took on the wrath and justice of the Father so that we can be treated as God’s children.
There’s a rejoicing in heaven when people repent.
When you repent, it’s an opportunity for God’s grace to be magnified.
Pastor Chris (Crit) Fukunaga
God’s wrath is not only a characteristic about Him; it is also important for understanding ourselves/ We can learn from this passage about God’s wrath manifested in ourselves.
What happens when a person hasn’t heard of Jesus?
He is judged by conscience, judged by your own definition of good and evil, and judged against Jesus Christ and will face God’s wrath.
Thesis of passage:
God’s wrath will come to people because they choose to worship themselves over God.
The opposite of worship of God is worship of the self as God. Worship of creator vs worship of creation as the creator.
Orge (Greek) - refers to God’s wrath:
(Five Types of Wrath)
Environmental - Ex: Noah’s Ark
Sowing and reaping - Ex: Sinning and the fruits of sin
Eschatological - Ex: Revelation
Eternal - Ex: Hell
In the case of the passage, God's wrath is removing Himself from the human spirit - taking away His restraining hand of grace.
No matter if you’ve ever heard of anything Christian, every single human has built into them a capacity to understand that God exists. There has to be a creator God behind everything, as seen in His creation. People will reject God. They will see Him and reject Him. Nature reveals God, but they choose to reject Him. Then they start worshipping idols, images, creation. There is no spiritual, neutral gear to the human soul. Our soul is always worshipping something or someone. We are always longing to worship.
Verse 24, 26, 28
“God gave them up...” He removed His hand of grace and restraint from their heart, and:
They dishonor their bodies
They exchange the truth of God for a lie
They worship the creation
Their hearts were ruled by dishonorable passions.
Their minds become debased
Note: God did not impose their evil desires. They were evil already.
Verse 29, 30
Description of the human and culture when they reject God and when God is absent.
Good news! We have been justified by the blood of Jesus Christ.
If you’re struggling with idolizing something, recommit yourself to worshipping God.