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The Runaway

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
October 20, 2023 12:00 am

The Runaway

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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October 20, 2023 12:00 am

Watch or listen to the full-length version of this sermon here: https://wfth.me/3rC7rED  As Jesus continues to effectively use parables to reveal truths about the human condition to His audience, He’s aware of the skepticism His message is facing from the Pharisees and religious leaders. And He has a story ready that will shake even them to their core. If you imagined the least desirable, the least redeemable, the lowest class of person you can think of, that’s the man Jesus now presents to these leaders as an example of the indiscriminate grace of God.

 

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Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey

Doesn't he give to the world of people who defy him the sight to enjoy the sunset, the ability to paint it on canvas, laughter with friends and family, and a thousand more gifts he allows a world to experience who hate him? In fact, the Bible tells us that his goodness leads us to repentance. Our eyes are opened, and we all who have believed recognize how good he was to us even back then when we defied him.

Welcome to Wisdom for the Heart. Stephen Davey is currently teaching a series from Luke 15. It's a section where Jesus taught in parables. As he was teaching, Jesus was aware of the skepticism his message faced from the Pharisees and the religious leaders. Well, he had a story ready that would shake them to their core. If you imagined the least desirable, the least redeemable, the lowest class of person you can think of, that's the man Jesus presents to these leaders as an example of the grace of God.

Here's Stephen with the message that he called The Runaway. Frank Sinatra was a famous recording artist in the mid to late 1900s. He sold millions of albums in his day.

An album is a round plastic thing about that big. He recorded his most famous hit song in December 1968. It rose up the charts, stayed in the top 40 in Great Britain for months, longer than any other song had before or to this day.

The song was entitled My Way. It had been composed by someone else who wanted to capture what he called, quote, the freedom of his generation. A generation, frankly, that wanted to be freed from the moorings of what it considered a rather restrictive culture. We now refer to that generation as the me generation, don't we?

The 1960s launched what it called the sexual revolution and everything that came with it. And this song was really the perfect song for it all. What I found surprising was that this song is one of the most often requested songs in funeral home services. As if you want to say one more time, even after you're dead, you know, I did it my way. It's a defiant song that articulates all of our hearts. Some of the lyrics go like these. I've lived a life that's full. I've traveled each and every highway and more much more than this.

I did it my way. Several sources say this particular stanza is a not so subtle reference to defying God. The lyrics go for what is a man? What has he got? If not himself, then he has naught.

Because all you need is yourself to say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels. The record shows I did it my way. The last words Frank Sinatra uttered on his deathbed at the age of 82 as he looked up at his fourth wife, he said, I'm losing. And then he died. I'm not disparaging Frank Sinatra. I've never met him.

I don't know much about him. But I do know that he popularized the words of a defiant heart and the world ate it up. These lyrics are as old, frankly, as mankind. In fact, they trace all the way back to Genesis in the Garden of Eden where Satan promised Eve that if she would only defy God, she would really start to live. Adam agreed and so the first couple become the first couple to run away from God. And when you think about human history, isn't it nothing more than the narrative of prodigals running from God, convinced my life would be better without God, so I'm going to speak the things I truly feel I will never kneel. I am going to do it my way.

That's this heart. The religious leaders of Jesus' day would have said, you know, and that's exactly why we know God rejoices when a sinner dies. That's what they were teaching. When a sinner dies, God celebrates.

It's time to set the record straight on that. Jesus does so in Luke's Gospel at chapter 15 where he delivers three parables. He describes God doing the unthinkable to the Pharisee and the scribe, the attorney at law. God is searching.

He's searching for lost valuables, a lost sheep, a lost coin, a lost son. He's describing himself and his own mission statement where he'll say later on in Luke 19, the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. Now, Luke is the only Gospel writer to record this third parable. Your Bible might outline it in the margins, the parable of the prodigal son. It's actually a parable of two prodigal sons. Jesus begins to tell it that way, chapter 15 and verse 11, and he said there was a man who had two sons. By the way, Jesus will spend the exact same amount of time on the Father's interaction with both of them. Remember, these parables are in response to the Pharisees grumbling back if you look at verse 2 where Luke writes, and the Pharisees and scribes grumbled saying, this man receives sinners and eats with them.

They're grumbling about sinners being saved and Jesus now begins to tell them that heaven is rejoicing when a sinner is converted. The younger son will be represented by all these tax collectors, all these sinners that are gathering around Jesus, obvious sinners. The older son will be represented by the religious leaders who were following all the rules. This man has two sons. Let me tell you ahead of time, both sons are lost. One son is lost as he leaves home.

The other is lost while staying home. Both sons will defy their father's wishes. Both sons will demonstrate a lack of love for their father. The older son seems to behave while the younger son doesn't want to behave anymore. Both sons are offered patience and grace. Their father goes looking, as it were, for both. They both need a change of heart. They both need to repent. The younger one does.

We're not sure what the older one does. Let me tell you, both sons need to be found. This is the parable of two prodigals and the hero of the story is the father. You might remember that a parable, even the word to cast alongside, parable means an earthly story with eternal truth put alongside. There are a lot of eternal truths in this story. In fact, I think I'm going to take three sermons to cover this parable. It might take four, fifteen.

You can go ahead and start praying about that now if you'd like. In fact, as I record these sermons on my computer, this is the 80th sermon in the Gospel of Luke, our 80th study together. I think I'm halfway through.

I'm not sure. Some of you might be old enough around here to have gone through Romans with me. Many of you, evidently, you're still alive. I'm amazed. We spent six years going through that.

I think we'll beat that record. It reminds me of a lady. I was thinking about this as I was driving over here this morning. The lady sent me an email when we were not quite halfway through Romans. She said, we just had a son, and in honor of all we are learning in this great epistle, we've given him the middle name, Roman.

Then she said, we plan on having more children. Don't start in Habakkuk, which we have not. If we were putting a playbill together for this drama, you could entitle the first scene. Building or burning bridges and leaving everyone behind. Burning bridges and leaving everyone behind. Verse 12, and the younger of them said to his father, father, give me the share of property that is coming to me. He divided his property between them.

Many days later, the youngest son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country. According to Hebrew law and custom, the law of inheritance, a father might choose to dole out his inheritance or some of it while he's still living. The oldest son would receive a double portion.

The younger sons receiving less. Even daughters could receive an inheritance in these days from the father's will. But the implication here is that the father is a widow.

He's much older now. His sons are grown adult men. He evidently doesn't have any daughters, so the inheritance is going to be simple.

Divided between these two men. The older son would receive two-thirds and the younger son one-third of the family estate. But while the father might willingly choose to do this while he's alive, it would have been entirely improper in these days for a son to demand it while the father is still living. And the younger son is demanding his share now. He wants it now. This would have been a shocking, a heartless demand.

He's effectively saying to his father, I'm tired of waiting for you to die. I want it now. Imagine the heartbreak that demand brought in a volume I have on Hebrew custom and culture.

One particular volume I was reading on this, a demand like this was tantamount to his son telling his father, I wish you were dead. I want to start life. I've been thinking about it. I've been dreaming about it. I've been planning for it. You're in the way. You're in the way of my dreams. Since it doesn't look like his dad is going to die anytime soon, he finally kind of drops the facade and says, I want out. I'm tired of waiting. Give me what I have coming to me.

I want to start living my life my way. Within days, he leaves for a far country and a wild life. In fact, the same terms here are used by the Apostle Paul, translated in my text, debauchery.

Titus chapter 1, drunkenness and immorality. You need to understand Jesus is describing a prodigal who isn't just tired of waiting for his father to die. He's tired of living under his father's rules, under his father's authority, his father's morality. His heart has left home years earlier.

There's more to his impatience here since Jewish land did not transfer away or outside the family or the clan. We don't see him driving cattle as he leaves for the country, this far country. He's evidently not asking for his 25 acres and a herd of cows. That would get in the way of his freedom. So, if we can put it together, he's not wanting anything to do with the farm or the home or the family or his heritage. He's really fine leaving everything and everyone behind. He just wants money.

He just wants to buy a one-way ticket out of town. I imagine his father standing there on the roadside as he watches his son leave, perhaps never to return home. Maybe you've been there.

Maybe you're there. Maybe you have tasted those bitter tears as you've watched a loved one run away. Scene one, burning bridges and leaving everyone behind.

I'll entitle scene two, pursuing freedom with people already enslaved. Verse 13 again, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country and there he squandered his property in reckless living. This far country implies he's left Jewish territory. Add to that the fact that he's eventually going to get a job working on a hog farm that gives you every indication he's left Judaism behind. He's left his heritage behind. He is now in Gentile country. Now to the audience, Jesus is speaking here in chapter 15.

Everything in this story, Jesus is really telling quite the story. Everything now spells defilement. It spells unclean, impure. He's arrived at some unnamed bustling city where he's going to live an unclean life in an unclean land. Everything's defiled and defiling.

It's a small world, by the way. Evidently his older brother had heard about his lifestyle. He's later going to throw that back in the father's house. Look at the son of verse 30, this son of yours, he says to his dad, has devoured your property with prostitutes. Look at what he did. Look at the life he lived.

Look at where he's been. This describes then in part what Luke writes here in verse 13. He squandered his possessions literally through his money around like a farmer throws seed. Same word. Luke writes, he dove into reckless living.

That expression refers to immoral behavior. You can read it between the lines and imagine what we know from this parable that here he is. He arrives in town. It doesn't take long for other prodigals to spot him. They recognize themselves in him. He's got money. He's got a lot of it. He wants fun.

They know where to find it. At this point everybody wants to be his friend. He's finally found people like him and who like him for who he wants to be. He's generous. He's open-minded.

He's giving, though rather naive. He's the life of the party. In fact, he's financing the party.

Being around him would be like having one long weekend. It's just one party that just doesn't end. But the truth is his friends were as lost as he was. What they enjoyed was nothing more than enslavement. They were using each other.

They were using him. Now, don't misunderstand. At this point they don't look like they're miserable. But everything's about to change.

Party's about to come to a screeching halt. The third scene, we'll call it this, watching wild oats come to harvest. Verse 14. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate and no one gave him anything. To the Jewish audience, the picture Jesus is painting here is now a life completely beyond redemption. Beyond redemption. Now, maybe the thought crossed your mind.

It certainly did mine. Why did the Father give him the money to begin with? He shouldn't have given his son his legal right of inheritance.

Well, that was the law. He graciously did it early. But his father is not responsible for the free will of his son to sin.

That's on the prodigal. And isn't God doing that same thing today? Doesn't he give to the world of people who defy him, who run from him good gifts, life, health, intelligence, wealth, talents, the sight to enjoy the sunset, the ability to paint it on canvas, laughter with friends and family, and a thousand more gifts. He allows a world to experience who hate him. He is so unlike us.

Patient. Gracious. In fact, the Bible tells us that his goodness leads us to repentance. And when we repent, having come to life already by his Spirit, our eyes are opened, and we all who have believed recognize, don't we, how good he was to us even back then when we defied him. I remember.

I can still see myself as a 16-year-old in my little bedroom, even though I was a missionary kid and never missed church, looking up and saying out loud to God, Get out of my life. I want nothing to do with you. You can't have me. And he didn't listen.

And I'm so glad he didn't. And you know it's true for you. Now for this prodigal, he's landed now in the gutter. His wild oats have yielded fruit. And Jesus is describing someone who can't get any more defiled. To the Lord's audience, a Jewish man working on a hog farm, wanting to eat their slop, you just can't get any lower than this. And did you notice how the scene ends with something that no doubt infuriated this prodigal as he comes to the realization of how he had been used? Luke writes, And no one gave him anything. Let me give a couple of reminders for runaways.

Maybe you're one of them. And no one knows it, perhaps, but you. Whenever you run away from God, freedom is just a mirage. The prodigal had plenty of friends, but they only wanted what he had, and they disappeared into thin air as soon as he ran out of it. He thought he'd found freedom.

Look at him now. He's living in fear for his life. He's run away from God, and he's beginning to recognize that the road is a dead end.

And it will be for you as well. Secondly, whenever you abandon truth, you are vulnerable to believe or believing all sorts of lies. In fact, you've already believed the lie that you could enjoy life if you could somehow run away from God. You will never enjoy fully at links the things money can buy if you reject the things money cannot buy. Money cannot buy forgiveness. It cannot buy a clean conscience. It cannot buy hope. It can't buy true friendship. It cannot buy joy.

Go ahead and buy everything you want, but you cannot truly enjoy it unless you are accepting what God offers you for free. Now let me offer two principles for those who are praying for prodigals. First, ask God to help you build a bridge, not for compromising but for communicating. Offer words of love and support, not for their sinful lifestyle but for their spiritual need.

Keep the conversation open as long as you can. And lovingly, patiently, insert gospel truth when appropriate. The fact that the prodigal's older brother knew what his younger brother was up to implies that the father knew as well. He knew where he was.

He knew which direction to look down which road. But he didn't send him money to finance his sinful lifestyle. He didn't invite his son to come home and set a pig pen up in the backyard. He did not disown him. As we'll see in our next session, when the prodigal returns, he calls him father.

Father calls him son. One more principle. Don't pray for the prodigal's good fortune. Pray for God to send a great famine. Don't ignore their sin.

Don't applaud it. And don't pray that somehow they'll avoid disaster. Don't pray that disaster will be used by God to open their eyes to the disaster they are making of their lives. Even though you don't want someone you love to suffer, whether it's your spouse who has wandered away from God or an adult child or parent, grandparent, friend, turn their backs on everything they know about God. Remember, prodigals don't usually come to their senses in the father's house. They come to their senses in the pig pen of life. That was Stephen Davey and a message he called The Runaway.

He'll continue through this parable over the next few lessons. In the meantime, would you be interested in receiving occasional text messages and updates from Stephen? Or maybe you'd prefer to receive email. We'd like to be able to communicate with you. Stephen sends ministry updates to those who are on our email or text list. If you're not receiving those, visit wisdomonline.org forward slash email. Join us back here next time for more wisdom for the heart. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-20 00:58:33 / 2023-10-20 01:07:07 / 9

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