Luke 15:11-12 (ESV) And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them.
We now go from 100 sheep, 10 coins to 2 sons of a man. The younger son was very rude, he asked for his inheritance while his father was still living. The father gave he son his one third of the inheritance without correcting him.
Luke 15:13-14 (ESV) Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.
This younger son took all his new-found wealth and travelled as far away from his family as possible. In this far country, he wasted all his wealth in sinful living of the worst kind. Not only did he manage to waste his inheritance that had been saved up for a lifetime. He always used that precious inheritance to pay for an exceedingly sinful lifestyle.
When the money was gone, all his friends in sin were gone. The son was in financial need and couldn’t even feed himself. He took a job feeding food to the pigs. He wanted to eat the pig food, but his boss would not even let him do that. Finally, the Scripture says that he came to himself, he began to think clearly.
Luke 15:18-19 (ESV) I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’
The son knew that his life was a mess and decided to return home to his father. He decided to repent, acknowledging that he had sinned against God and his father. He didn’t expect to be treated as a son, but wanted to return simply as a servant.
Luke 15:20-21 (ESV) And he arose and 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. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
I am sure that the son wasn’t sure how his father would respond, he had sinned so greatly. However, it seems that the father was watching for his son to return. When the father saw him coming down the road, all disheveled and dirty, he ran to him. The father embraced and kissed his son and the son repented for his sin. The father called his servants to bring a robe, ring and shoes for his son. He issued a command for a fattened calf to be prepared for a great celebration.
Luke 15:24 (ESV) For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
The sin of the son was forgiven and forgotten. He was dead but had come back to life. Lost but found and the celebration of joy began. The father was filled with great joy at the home coming of his lost son.
Now the son’s older brother was not happy at all at his younger brother’s return. He knew the story of all the sin and reckless living his brother had done. He couldn’t understand why his father was celebrating the return of this no-good brother of his. The older brother was the only one in these three stories that was not rejoicing. The father said to him …
Luke 15:32 (ESV) It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
The father understood that the important thing was that the son was in the family. He had been dead as it were, but now was alive. He had been lost but now found. It was to be a time of rejoicing Joy comes by welcoming the lost home.
In this last story, the father corresponds to God the father. He never gives up on someone as long as they’re alive. The father serves as an example for us as to how we should welcome the lost into the family of God. The son stumbling up the road was not a pretty sight. But the father welcomed him with open arms. As the father waited, praying, anticipating, believing.
So, we should wait, pray and believe that those in our life who are lost will repent come into the family of God. We must welcome them into our church family, into our homes. We must rejoice and celebrate their return to the God who had created them. Of course, as in the other stories, the angels in heaven rejoice with us.
We must not be like the older son, who was so disgusted with his brother’s sin, he refused to welcome him and celebrate. When sinners come into God’s family, they are not instantly mature. Parts of their old life may cling to them for a season. We must be patient and loving with them and rejoice, like the father. Joy comes by welcoming the lost home.