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The Father

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
October 24, 2023 12:00 am

The Father

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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October 24, 2023 12:00 am

Watch, listen, or read the full-length version: https://wfth.me/4722HHf The prodigal son prepared to return home with the posture of humility but a heart of pride. He concocted a plan to save face, restore his dignity and increase his status. As he journeyed home, he rehearsed exactly what he would say. But when he arrived in town, the prodigal was confounded by a level of grace so unexpected and irresistible, he forgot his plan entirely. God continues to blow people away with His grace and forgiveness in our world today.

 

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Jesus Christ left the Father's house to give you an invitation to come home, to His home. He came to bear your shame, to be bruised for your iniquities, to take the taunting and the mockery, and to pay for your passage back to this banquet.

This is the title of the documentary for all of us who believe we are eternally captured by grace. In the parable of the prodigal son, the son prepared to return home with the posture of humility, but a heart of pride. He concocted a plan to save face, restore his dignity, and increase his status.

As he journeyed home, he rehearsed exactly what he would say. But when he arrived in town, the prodigal was confronted by a level of grace so unexpected and so irresistible he forgot his plan entirely. God continues to blow people away with His grace and forgiveness in our world today. That's the example of the Father in the parable.

Here's Stephen Davey with today's message. In the biography of Louis Zamperini entitled Unbroken, he recalls major events in his life. It turned into a movie, you may have seen it. He enlisted and served in World War II. His plane crash landed in the ocean, drifted for nearly two months in a raft fighting off sharks. He was eventually found, but by enemy soldiers, spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of the war, enduring great hardship. Earlier in his life, he lived in Southern California with his Italian immigrant parents. And he developed a reputation as a hard kid, street kid, he loved to fight, loved to steal.

He certainly wasn't interested in his family's religion. One day he became so angry as an older teen, he decided it was time to leave and strike out on his own. His parents pleaded with him to stay, he refused.

Louis' mother actually packed him a sandwich and his father gave him two dollars, which was in that day a great sacrifice. He and his friend hopped a train and headed north. Running away wasn't quite the adventure he thought it would be. They barely escaped the sweltering heat of a boxcar, they were accidentally locked inside. At another point in their journey, they were discovered in a train car and forced at gunpoint to jump off the train while it was still moving. They survived that. It wasn't long before they end up in a railway yard, a rail yard, bruised and sunburned and exhausted and hungry and tired, filthy.

They were sharing the only thing they had between them and that was a stolen can of beans. He says in his biography, which I enjoyed reading, he remembered the money in his father's hand and the fear in his mother's eyes. He got up and headed home. Later in life, he will attend that now famous Los Angeles crusade that launched the ministry of Billy Graham. There he would give his life to Christ. In fact, just a few years ago, the Billy Graham Association released a documentary on his life and testimony and they called it Captured by Grace. I couldn't help but think that's the perfect title to the drama we have been watching here in Luke chapter 15 where I invite you to return. Luke is the only gospel writer to include what is traditionally called the parable of the prodigal son.

William Barclay, great theologian, called it the greatest short story of all time. Now, in order to understand, because there's a lot of misunderstanding as we've been trying to uncover much of it, what the father is about to do and why he is going to do what he's about to do, we need to climb back into our documentary, so to speak, and review enough to get a running start. If you're new to us today, what the father is going to do won't make a lot of sense without it. Jesus is teaching, as he began this, what we call chapter 15, he's teaching the value of a single soul, one sinner. It's one sheep that's lost and found. It's one coin that's lost and found.

It's one son that's lost and found. And a celebration, which the religious leaders would never conceive of, is actually taking place in heaven when every individual sinner comes to faith and cries. As we discussed, I believe people that know that individual who are in heaven, some kind of communication system going on, they know and they celebrate. They have all these celebrations beginning in heaven. Jesus, in fact, says here in verse 10, I tell you there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. He doesn't say the angels are rejoicing. He says it's taking place in their presence.

Certainly I'm convinced they would be rejoicing along with them. After that, the Lord delivers one of the longest, certainly the most moving parable. Man had two sons.

That's how he begins. They're both prodigals. One prodigal is going to run away from home. The other prodigal is going to live at home. But they both defy the Father. They're both prodigals at heart. Only one will act it out, the youngest of the two.

These are grown men, young men. I'll tell you, the Pharisees listening here and the religious leaders, in fact, the entire audience know exactly what's going to happen. Well, you've got two options, but this is what they would expect to have happen. But what unfolds are what I'd like to call three surprising scenes. We'll break it up that way. Scene one is going to highlight the Father's grace. Now, verse 20, and he arose and came to his father.

In other words, that's the direction he's going. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, felt compassion, ran and embraced him and kissed him. He's still a long way off, indicating this took place during the day, plenty of daylight to see. This would mean that the village center is filled with people.

The market would be busy. As he approaches the village, he would have been recognized, dirt and all, and the father sees him. Now, that indicates that he's either been alerted or he's been watching that road for some time. Again, from the fact that the older brother says later on that the younger son spent his money on prostitutes.

The implication is they know what he's been doing and they know where he's been living. So every time dad walks outside, more than likely, he's been looking down that road in the direction of where he knows his son is staying. Jesus says the father sees him and is moved with compassion. And when he reaches his son, he embraces him, dirt and all, and kisses him.

The tense tells us it's repeated. We would say he smothered him with kisses. He's showing great affection of how much he missed him. Now, by the way, he could have easily not shown up, right? Or he could have shown up, waited maybe for his son to arrive and then given him the cold shoulder and quite the lecture that he certainly deserved. But he hugs him. Now, this parable is not intended to be a journal on parental affection, but we ought to stop at least long enough to notice here that the Lord is endorsing a father showing his son physical affection. Have you ever seen that commercial on television where the Marine comes home for Christmas, it's a surprise, he slips through the door, his little brother sees him, runs over, they hug, and then the mother comes around the corner and she covers her mouth, tears, and they hug, and then the dad shows up.

What does he do? He shakes his hand. Shakes his hand? Well, maybe you think, I'm like that. I don't hug anybody around our house. Well, you ought to try, you big grouch. No telling what will happen.

It's Mother's Day, try. Now, to the audience listening here, actually the most surprising thing to them in this culture is not the hug and the kiss. It's that the father is running to meet him. Not in our culture, but in the oriental world, older men did not run. In fact, one scholar I've been researching writes that running was considered beneath the dignified posture of a Middle Eastern elder. In fact, a run would suggest that he was not in control of his time or resources. In these days, a man was known by his pace, which signified dignity and stature in the community. In addition to that, he writes, to run would require the father to pull up his long robes, exposing his bare legs, which would have been unthinkable in this culture.

That would be for younger men, not an older man. So he's doing all of that here. He's not just running, by the way. He's racing, is the word used. He's racing, is the word Paul uses in 2 Thessalonians 3.1, where he says, Pray for us that the word of the Lord might speed ahead. That's my theme verse when I get in my pickup truck.

I've got it on my dashboard. Speed ahead. He's racing. It shows up in Hebrews 12 for running a race. So the implication, he's racing. Who's he racing?

He's not racing his son. Jesus' audience would have known. The religious leaders would have known. The father knew that his son would face villagers who felt the shame of his betrayal. This is a community shaming.

It's hard for us to understand. He's defied his father. He's shamed his Jewish heritage. He spent his inheritance, imagine, on Gentiles.

He's given away that which belonged in the Jewish community to Gentiles, because any Gentile, a lot of it was the Gentile prostitutes. The village could have turned into a mob, followed the letter of the law in Deuteronomy 21, and stoned him to death. The stones will have to hit his father first.

He will be bruised if need be for his son. So at worst, he could be killed at best, and this is what this audience Jesus is speaking to is expecting. The villagers will taunt him and mock him, maybe beat him, but then turn him away in a public shaming ceremony called the kazaza ceremony. When a Jewish prodigal left the community and went and lived with Gentiles and spent his inheritance on Gentiles in Gentile country, which is exactly what he did, and they tried to return, he could expect the elders to seat him at the city gates, perhaps for a day or two, and then they would fill a pot with burnt beans, and they, as elders in the village, would come before that prodigal and throw that vessel at his feet. It would break apart spilling these burnt beans that are worthless, signifying that his fellowship with them, the community, the family, is forever broken. The prodigal knows all about the kazaza ceremony.

He's probably seen it happen. He dares to come home to face that, and the father knows it. The father is racing to get there first. This is a picture, by the way, of our Lord. By the way, this is the only passage in Scripture where God is pictured in a hurry, racing.

This is the incarnation. This is where the parable becomes a picture of God the Son, stepping out of the Father's house and running eagerly to seek and to save those who are lost, to bear our shame, to take our punishment, to take the mocking due to us, to be bruised for us. So he reaches his son first. The implication is the household servants are huffing and puffing behind him.

He's evidently outrun them. And his son is immediately stunned by his father's response. He had never in a million years dreamed that he would be welcomed like this. That he would be embraced. That he would be kissed. If anything, he would expect to fall down in the dirt and kiss his father's feet. That's what all the religious leaders are expecting. And then banish him. He hasn't even begun to deliver his speech.

He's got this plan. But now, after all the hugs and kisses and tears, no doubt, with this overwhelming demonstration of grace, scene 2 opens, which highlights the son's guilt, verse 21. And, you can have the idea of now, and now, the son says to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son.

Period. Now, keep in mind, that after the father's gracious welcome, the son still has the option. In fact, according to his plan, keep that in mind, he would be more emboldened than ever to carry it out. To manipulate his father for more money. I mean, this is perfect. This negotiation is going to go better than I ever dreamed.

Look at my father, he's a puddle of tears. He evidently loves me. He's going to finance my apprenticeship.

I am good to go. He has that option. But instead, he never says it, does he?

Most scholars who research the culture and the context say that he would have been stunned by his father's grace. His own heart has moved. I would agree, because he changes the direction of his speech and the tone of everything he says is now meaningful. He's no longer asking for independence or financial help. He begins by saying the same words he planned to say, but now they have an entirely different tone.

And we know that because of where he lands. Now it's, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be your son.

Period. This is, instead of negotiation, true confession, he leaves with this statement now. His future entirely in his father's hands. Following this genuine confession, his father demonstrates reconciliation by giving him some significant gifts. Scene 3 highlights the father's gifts.

Notice verse 22. But the father said to his servants, Bring quickly the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. Bring the best robe. Literally the first robe. The Lord's audience would have immediately understood that this robe was the father's robe. It would be worn on feast days. It was significant because it belonged to the father.

It would be used for grand occasions. Keep in mind that Prodigal doesn't have a robe. There's nothing hanging in his closet back home. It's already been cleaned out, pawned off, sold away. All he's got is tattered robes, if anything. He sold everything to run away.

The father's saying, Go get mine. Robe him in mine. By the way, notice he says, Bring the robe quickly. Quickly. Why quickly?

What's the rush? Villagers are coming. The elders are coming. The news has spread. The prodigal has come back. Let's go give him everything he deserves.

They probably have a jar filled with burnt beans two weeks old. They're going to drive this son away. But when they arrive, now they see the son wearing the father's robe, and immediately would understand what it meant. This speaks of reconciliation. The son now stands, as it were, under the protection of his father.

You could say it this way. The son is now clothed with the reputation of his father. This is salvation. I think Jesus would want the Jewish leaders to connect the dots.

They would have had the scroll of Isaiah memorized, most of them. Where Isaiah says, I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, for he has clothed me with the garment of salvation. He has covered me with the robe of righteousness. His righteousness.

The father isn't finished. He says, put a ring on his finger. This is a reference to the signet ring.

This word is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament 30 times. It speaks of that ring where they would press it into wax. It sealed documents. This is power of attorney in our world.

The father is giving his son this symbol of authority whereby he can transact business in his father's name. Did he earn it? No. Did he deserve it?

No. Do we, as we transact business in the father's name, do we arrive at a point where we can now represent him? The father commands further, put shoes or sandals on his feet, slaves and poor people, one barefoot, not members of the household. This is a picture of family acceptance. This is now a member of the father's household fully restored. So now the villagers arrive. They see all that the father has done. They are stunned with the father's grace and his gifts and his humble and repentant son. When they arrive, they're evidently given an invitation. The father says here in verse 23, notice, and bring the fattened calf and kill it. It's a sign of great wealth to have a calf ready.

In fact, the word refers to grain fed. Let us eat and celebrate, for this my son was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found and they began to celebrate.

They're going to do on earth what they're doing in heaven, celebrating the rescuing of one soul. Now if it had been a celebration for the immediate household, one sheep would have done the job. But this is a fattened calf, grain fed.

This is 400 pounds of prime beef or more. See, the father is throwing a village-wide celebration. He's making a public statement. This is my son.

He's home. What did the son do to deserve it? What could the son do to earn it?

What did he have to offer? Dirt, stench. This is the miracle of salvation that God, Paul writes, justifies the ungodly. Not the ones who deserve it, who think they're going to earn it, but the ungodly. We don't pay for these gifts. Jesus paid it all. All to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain.

He washed it, what? White as snow. When you are invited to the White House for a banquet, you're seated with all of the other people who have been invited. The table is loaded down with delicious food. I know it's just afternoon.

Hang with me here for just a little longer. All of it artistically plated, scrumptious. The dessert choices are amazing.

Every one of them made out of chocolate. This is my dream here. When it comes time to leave, the president stands at the door to greet everyone as they leave. What do you do? Oh, I know, you reach into your pocket and you pull out a nickel. And as you leave, you say to the president as he extends his hand, you press that nickel into the palm of his hand and you say, Mr. President, thank you for an amazing evening and a delicious meal.

I know it must have been really expensive and I want to help pay for it. Here's my nickel. You would disappear somewhere out there in Guantanamo Bay, never to be seen again. This is the gospel. Jesus Christ left the Father's house to give you an invitation to come home, to His home.

He came to bear your shame, to be bruised for your iniquities, to take the taunting and the mockery and to pay for your passage back to this banquet. You think the world is having a party down here? Just wait till you get there. The celebration over sinners saved is taking place right now. Jesus said so.

It's taking place now. But that celebration will one day include you and me and it will never end. This is the title of the documentary for all of us who believe. We were captured by sin. We are eternally captured by grace. That was Stephen Davey with a message called The Father. Stephen has one more message to go in this series and that'll be next time. Before we leave you today, Stephen is giving away a resource I want to tell you about. Abortion is one of the greatest tragedies of our day and age.

It steals the life of unborn children. If there was ever a time that the world needed Psalm 139, it's today. Stephen's resource, Designer Made, is free for you to download. Visit wisdomonline.org forward slash designer. Please get your copy today and join us again tomorrow to discover more wisdom for the hearts. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-24 00:23:26 / 2023-10-24 00:32:30 / 9

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