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The Loving Father B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
March 22, 2023 4:00 am

The Loving Father B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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March 22, 2023 4:00 am

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He runs to embrace, He runs to kiss, He wants all that He has to be given to the repentant sinner and He wants to start the party immediately and call all who live in heaven to come around and celebrate Him as the reconciling Father who welcomes the penitent Son. Welcome to Grace To You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. When do you face mockery for your faith in Christ? Maybe it's when you work with diligence and honesty when fellow employees don't, or when you refuse to participate in gossip at a family get-together, or maybe it has to do with how you're raising and educating your children. Well, scripture says you're in good company when you face humiliation for just trying to live a godly life. Not only were God's people in the Old and New Testaments scorned for their lifestyles, but Jesus Himself, and even God the Father, have been mocked. You'll see that today on Grace To You as John MacArthur examines one man's shocking and shameful behavior that illustrates God's love and it sets an example for you to follow. John calls his study from Luke 15 the tale of two sons, and now here's John with the message.

If you will, take your Bible and turn to the fifteenth chapter of Luke. This is such a rich chapter, as we have come to find out already. The story divides itself into three parts that overlap. The first part is about the younger son. The second part is about the father. The third part is about the older son. We looked last time at the first part, verses 11 to 16, about the younger son.

And we divided that into two parts, a shameless request. Verse 11, he said, A man had two sons. From the beginning it is a tale of two sons. The younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.

So he divided his wealth between them. This was an outrageous shameless request tantamount to wishing your father was dead. A shameless request leads to a shameless rebellion. And all of that, as I told you, pictures the irreligious, rebellious, immoral sinner, the very kind of person that Jesus was associating with. The people who were treated badly by the culture, who were scorned and made outcasts by the society, they were as bad as bad can be. This young man demonstrates someone who has gone as low as you can go, all the way to the bottom in a Gentile country living in an outrageous and immoral way, ending up not only taking care of pigs but eating with pigs, becoming one of them.

This is as bad as it gets. And he ends up destitute and helpless. Now at this point, the father reenters the story.

The father reenters in the mind of the son, first of all. And we go from a shameless request and a shameless rebellion to a shameful repentance. All the freewheeling lifestyle has turned to a terrible crushing bondage. All the dreams are nightmares, all the pleasure is pain, all the fun is sorrow, all the self-fulfillment is self-deprivation.

The party is over for good, the laughs are silenced, the friends are gone, it's as bad as it can get and he's about to die, there's nowhere to go. His thoughts were on the horror of his own sin and he felt bad. And he was willing to do whatever he was told to do to make restitution. Boy, there's some real genuine repentance in that, no terms. And so, a shameful repentance. That comes to the fourth point in the flow, a shameful reception...a shameful reception. And that in itself may seem a little bit startling to you, but you'll see in a moment.

A shameless request, a shameless rebellion, and then a shameful repentance and a shameful reception. This is amazing, this is paradoxical, and this is shocking. Verse 20, so he got up, came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion and ran and embraced him and kissed him. This is radical stuff, folks, radical, totally unorthodox, hence absolutely unexpected.

And this is where the story has its huge surprise. The father condescends, humbles himself out of this deep love for this son, comes all the way down from his house to the dirt of the village, runs through bearing the scorn and the shame, throws his arms around the penitent believing sinner who is coming to him in his filthy, unclean rags. That father is doing exactly what Jesus did, exactly what he did. He came down into our village to run the gauntlet and bear the shame and the slander and the mockery, to throw his arms around us and kiss us and reconcile with us. A shameless request, shameless rebellion, shameful repentance and a shameful reception by that father in their minds led to a shameless reconciliation. Let's come to verse 22. This is the last little section about the father. The father said to his slaves, quickly bring out the best robe, put it on him, put a ring on his hand, sandals on his feet.

We'll stop there for a minute. And here again the eyes roll. The father has no shame. He did a shameful run and now he shamelessly keeps blessing on this reconciled son. They wouldn't understand this at all, just absolutely mind-boggling that a father wouldn't be more protective of his own honor. He gives him three things, a robe, a ring and sandals. They all understood the implications of that.

All of them did. They would have expected that he would say to him at best, look, okay, I want to forgive you, maybe it's not going to take a lifetime of work, but I want to watch you for a year or two years and see what's going on in your life and see if you've really repented and if you really mean that you want to restore a relationship. But there's none of that. Here is this immediacy. The father says to his slaves, and the picture would be this, the father comes out of the house, comes running down the dusty street in town and along behind him are the servants who are running to figure out where he's going and why he's running the way he is and they know he shouldn't be doing that, but they're coming along because they're his servants from his household. Finally he reaches the son, he embraces his stinking garments and he kisses him all over the place and he turns to the servants who by then are huffing and puffing along with him and he says quickly, taku, immediately, hastily, speedily with no delay, get that best robe. This is a way of saying to the son, everything I have is yours. This is a token of saying the best that I have is yours. The best of everything I have is yours, as symbolized in the robe.

It's even more than that. You now have become fully restored as a son. It's as if the king passes his robe to the prince. Another self-emptying act by the father, clothing the son in his own glorious garment. No father would ever do that. Again, this father just seems not to be at all concerned about his own honor. But see, they don't understand that God's honor comes in his loving grace and forgiveness.

All they know about his works and law. He came in stinking, he came in rags, he came unclean and nobody was ever going to see him that way again. That's the picture. He came with nothing. He didn't come with a suitcase. He came in his own stinking clothing. He had barely been able to arrive.

He had nothing. That's how the sinner comes. That's how we all came because God justifies the ungodly, Romans 4 and 5 says, those with nothing, those who are just wretched and nothing else. And this is precisely the kind of thing Jesus is doing with these sinners. This is the kind of thing, this is the very thing the Pharisees and scribes refuse to see as the activity of God. They refuse to see it as the work of God. But it is the work of God.

It's the work of God to give everything He has to the penitent sinner immediately, not after some time gap, but immediately. Then the father in doing this practices what is called historically, it's an old word, usufruct, you may have heard it if you've ever worked in the financial world. Usufruct is a term used to speak of the right to exercise control over property that's been irrevocably given to the older son. Even though the father has already irrevocably given that part of the estate to the older son who's still in the home, the father can apply the right of usufruct to use that at his own discretion since he is still the patriarch of the family.

He has authority to do that. And so essentially what he does is lay claim to all that belongs potentially to the older son and say, it's all yours. And they would be saying, how can you reward this kid for the way he behaved and tap the stuff that belongs to the guy who stayed home?

This again is just beyond their comprehension. But that's exactly what the father says. That older son would have worn that robe. That older son probably would have worn that robe first at his wedding cause that's when that robe would come out. That was the single greatest event that could happen in a family, the wedding of the older son. He would have worn it, but now the younger brother has it.

That older son should have been able to act in behalf of his father by having his father's ring and therefore being able to sign all the documents authentically that related to the possessions of the family. This doesn't make any sense. You don't reward somebody who does that. You reward this guy who stayed home, right?

Wrong. Quickly, without hesitation, not even a blink. Put the robe on him, nobody will ever see him in rags again. And by the way, he doesn't say to the younger son, why don't you go home and take a bath?

After hugging you, I come to the conclusion that this is a great necessity. He doesn't say that. He treats him like a prince. He says, look what he says to his slaves, you get the robe and put it on him. You take him, you clean him, treat him like a king, treat him like a prince. You put the ring on his hand.

You put the sandals on his feet. It's like royalty. And, of course, again, this is just beyond imagination. The message is clear, full reconciliation, full rights, privileges, authority, honor, respect, responsibility as a son. The whole crowd would just be stunned with incredulity. It's just completely opposite the way they thought. And then not only are you giving him the robe, which essentially gives him the honor in the family, but you're giving him the ring which gives him the authority to act with regard to all that the family possesses, all the assets of the family, all the treasures of the family, all the possessions of the family can be moved around by whoever has the stamp.

Wow! He has authority to act in behalf of his father. He has authority to act in place of his father.

He has authority to dispense all the family resources. There's no waiting period here. There's no test period.

There's no re-entry time. There's no limit on the privileges. This is full-blown sonship at the highest level and it comes swiftly. All of this should have gone to the older son. Sandals on his feet, a sign that he's the master now. He's not a hired man. He's not even a slave. He's the master. He has authority. He has honor. He has responsibility. He has respect.

He is a fully vested son who can act in the place of his father and who has a right to access all the family treasures. Wow! What's the message here? Grace triumphs over sin at its worst. The story isn't saying that every sinner reaches the level he did, but when sinners do, grace still triumphs. This is a completely new idea, you have to understand, right?

Completely new idea. Undeserved forgiveness, undeserved sonship, undeserved salvation, undeserved honor, respect, responsibility, fully vested son without any restitution, without any works, this kind of lavish love, this kind of grace bestowed upon a penitent trusting sinner is a bizarre idea in a legalistic mind. And then the attention focuses from the son to the father. And there is a shameless rejoicing, verse 23. The father holds nothing back, he knows no shame. He calls for a party to end all parties, bring the fattened calf, kill it, let's eat and celebrate.

For this son of mine was dead, has come to life again, he was lost and has been found and they began to celebrate. Every family that had animals, if they were a noble family like this one, obviously, and had some means, would have a special calf that they would fatten. The word fatten, by the way, in English, the Greek equivalent in the original text is the word for corn or grain.

This is grain-fed veal, this is prime veal. And they kept that calf around for such a thing as the wedding of the older brother, or some very significant dignitary who came, some monumental event which would call for a massive mega-feast. This was it. This was it. This is the biggest event that has ever happened in the history of the family or the village from the perspective of the father.

This is it. And here we have the picture of heaven, don't we, rejoicing. Just one lost sinner comes home and God puts on a mega-feast. Bring that fattened calf, that corn-fed prime veal, kill it. And all that butchery would go on, getting ready for dinner later that evening. The animal had been long before selected, fed, cared for, kept for this special occasion. Meat, by the way, was rarely eaten in the Middle East in Jesus' day, very rarely eaten.

Only on special occasions did you eat meat at all and only on very, very special occasions did you eat the fattened calf. But this was a celebration to end all. Let us eat and celebrate. Let us eat and be merry. There was a fool earlier in the gospel of Luke, remember, who said he just wanted to eat, drink and be merry and his soul was required that night of him.

He was a fool. He celebrated his own possessions. If you're going to celebrate, celebrate the redemptive work of God, that's a legitimate celebration. By the way, a calf like this could feed up to 200 people and it should because everybody in the village would be there. It would be an insult to the villagers to have a whole calf and not invite everybody and it had to be eaten at one sitting, they didn't preserve those things.

Everybody come on and join the party. That's back to verse 6, when the sheep was brought home on the shoulders of the shepherd, he called his friends and neighbors and said, rejoice with me, I found my sheep. And in verse 9, when the lady found the coin, she called her friends and neighbors, rejoice with me, I found the coin. And the father, when he found the son, rejoice with me, I found my son. Verse 24 he says, the son of mine was dead.

You remember I told you when the son left, they would have had...what?...a funeral. It was as if he was dead. He had wished his father dead and so they treated him as if he were dead. The one that was dead has come to life. Who brought him to life? Who gave him his life back? Did he earn it back?

No. His father gave it back with all the rights and privileges. He was lost. But who made him to be found? Who embraced him and kissed him and made him fully a son? His father did and they began to celebrate. This is not so much the celebration of the son, this is the celebration of the father. The feast honors the father. It honors the father for what he has done. It is the father who gave him back his life. It is the father who made him a son. It is the father who restored him to blessing by merciful forgiveness and gracious love and the whole village comes to rejoice with this shameless father who celebrates his own grace and his own mercy. This father has exhibited unheard of, kindness unheard of, goodness, sacrificial love, sacrificial grace. The son who was dead, literally the Greek says, is up and alive.

The one who was lost is found. The son has new life, new status, a new attitude. He has for the first time a real relationship with a loving, forgiving father who has made him heir of everything he possesses to whom he has been reconciled and to whom he will eagerly give his love, his service in response. The son entrusts his life to the father and the father entrusts his resources to the son. The son is finally home. He's in the father's house.

He's in the family. He has full access to all the riches of the father and he joins with everyone in celebrating the greatness of this event. I love that it says at the end of verse 24, they began to be merry because this party never ends. That's what heaven is all about. It's the endless celebration of the grace of a loving father to penitent, believing sinners. That's what eternity is. Heaven's joy will never end when a sinner comes home. In conclusion, what are the lessons?

I don't spell them all out to you because I think you can figure them out as we go. But just a few reminders. God receives the penitent sinner who comes repenting and believing. Him that comes to me I'll never cast out. There is mercy with him. There's a throne of grace where we can go and obtain mercy. God gives forgiving grace that is lavish. God replaces the filthy, stinking rags of the sinner with His own robe of righteousness. As the prophet Isaiah said, He covers us with a robe of righteousness. God gives the child of His love forgiveness, honor, authority, respect, responsibility, full access to all His treasures and full right to represent Him.

We come bringing to the people around us the treasures of God as His ambassadors. God is almost impatient in His desire to give. He runs to embrace. He runs to kiss. Quickly put the robe. Quickly give Him the ring.

Quickly get the shoes. He wants all that He has to be given to the repentant sinner and He wants to start the party immediately and call all who live in heaven to come around and celebrate Him as the reconciling Father who welcomes a penitent Son. God treats the sinner as if he was royalty, making him an heir and a joint heir with Jesus Christ. And God holds a heavenly celebration for every wretched sinner who comes to Him and it never, ever ends. Listen, in conclusion, God rejoices, not because the world's problems of sin have been solved. Heaven is not up there saying, well, we'd like to have a party up here but so much is going on, it's not good, we can't really start the party until things get a lot better than they are now.

They're not up there saying there's so much suffering in the world, there's so much trauma, there's so much pain, there's so much disappointment, it's such a troubled world. Wow, we'd like to have a party but we just can't seem to get on the upside of this whole problem. No. And God isn't holding off the party for some big event when ten thousand people get saved in some stadium somewhere. No. The party starts when how many sinners repent?

One. And every time, and every time. And the party for every sinner never ends because it's a party in honor of God, not the sinner. And the more and more day in and day out as the Lord saves people, the party is extended and extended and enriched and enriched and the angels and the redeemed saints are praising God for being such a gracious and reconciling Father.

And I guess the question to ask us is, what contribution do we make to the party? First of all, if you're not a Christian, this is a time to receive the love of the Father who waits for you to return. But for those of us who are Christians, are we pursuing the joy of God by doing everything we can to take this glorious gospel of forgiveness to the people we meet? You're listening to John MacArthur here on Grace To You.

John is a pastor, an author, and he's chancellor of the Master's University and Seminary in the Los Angeles area. I trust today's lesson helped you see that God's forgiveness extends to all who repent. It's part of John's series, The Tale of Two Sons. Now, friend, if you're trying to think of verses that could clearly show an unbeliever the path to salvation, the parable of the prodigal son probably wouldn't be the first passage that comes to mind. And yet, John, there are a few places in the Bible that give a more vivid picture of true repentance and God's forgiveness.

Well yes, as I've said before, this is, I think, the most compelling, the most powerful of all the parables that Jesus gave. And it is about true repentance and God's forgiveness. I mean, simply stated, the wretched prodigal son repents and is forgiven.

The self-righteous older brother who sees himself as good, he's depicting the Pharisee, the self-righteous person who thinks he's holy, who thinks he's righteous. He doesn't see any sin, he doesn't repent, he is not forgiven. You know, this fits in what Jesus said when he said he didn't come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. I don't know a more powerful story when rightly understood for a non-believer to understand. Whether that non-believer is a secular, materialistic, immoral, profligate prodigal, or whether that unbeliever is highly religious in either case, this story compels them to take a hard look at the issue of eternal life and forgiveness. All of this is in a little book called Grace for You. And one of the biggest disappointments about communicating the gospel to someone is that when it actually seems to go well, the conversation eventually has to end. And you at least want to leave the person with something that will reinforce what you've said and point him or her further toward repentance and faith in Christ.

This will do that. This little book, Grace for You, fits that opportunity. So if you would like, we will send one free to anyone who asks. Just let us know and ask for the free booklet, Grace for You, a 60-page booklet. Grace for You will give you a fresh appreciation for the gospel, and it will help you tell others about God's amazing mercy toward sinners. Let us know you want a free copy of John's book, Grace for You, when you contact us today. Our number here, 855-GRACE, or visit us at the website, This simple, clear explanation of the gospel is an ideal resource to hand to a non-believer. If you'd like a copy of Grace for You, all you have to do is ask for it.

We'll send it to you free of charge. Call 800-55-GRACE, or go to And when you visit, make sure to take advantage of the thousands of free resources available there, including GraceStream. That's a continuous airing of John's verse-by-verse teaching. It goes straight through the New Testament. We begin in Matthew 1, work all the way through Revelation 22, and then we go back and start it over again.

It resets about every two months. So wherever you jump in, GraceStream will focus your mind on biblical truth, and it will help you tap into the spiritual resources God has for believers. GraceStream and much more is available free of charge at Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Keep in mind, Grace to You television airs this Sunday. Check your local listings for channel and times, and join us tomorrow when John continues his series, The Tale of Two Sons, with another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-22 05:39:39 / 2023-03-22 05:49:45 / 10

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