Luke 15:11-24 We are our Father’s children! Pentecost 4, Father’s Day June 17, 2018
By Pastor Kenneth Mellon, Trinity Lutheran Church and School, Pleasant Valley Rd., West Bend, WI

Grace and peace are yours from God, our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your Lord and Savior! Amen.
We see no greater love than God the Father’s love in Jesus’ lesson in Luke 15:11-24
These are Your Words heavenly Father. Through them move us to love you as you have loved us. Your word…

Dear Family of God in Christ,

I read part of a book called The Case for Grace by Lee Strobel. When Lee was finishing high school, he told his family a blatant lie. When his dad confronted him, they argued. Both said things they never meant. But the words stayed and separated them. Lee left for a summer job and then to college. Although he visited home for special occasions, he never spoke more than a few words to his father. Lee became a famous newspaper columnist and was a guest on TV news shows. But, he never was reconciled with his father. Spiritually, all people live separated from God. He wants to pour out His love in Christ on all people for:

We Are Our Father’s Children!

First, yet by nature we refuse to be God’s children. Many children look, talk, or act like their parents. But more than that, every parent passes on a sinful nature which was inherited from Adam. Genesis states, “Adam had a son in his own likeness” (5:3). Paul wrote, “Through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19). Jesus described the effects of this sinfulness in our lesson of the two sons.

The younger son asked for his inheritance early. Then he “got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living” (v.13). This describes a typical temptation for us. By nature we are not satisfied with what God provides. We want to do the opposite of God’s will, thinking how much better it will be. Why follow God’s guide for marriage when it seems easier to live together? Why be honest, when we can get ahead with lying or cheating? Why follow God’s guidelines for parent – child relationships when we think our selfish ways are better?

Think of the disastrous results for the son. He lost his money and his fare-weather friends. When a famine stuck, he became a beggar. He was regarded as so worthless, the farmers preferred to feed the pigs over him. His desire for freedom from God put him in bondage to his sins.

The older son was no better. Because he worked hard, he felt that he deserved his father’s love and that others shouldn’t have it. When the father welcomed the younger son back, it states, “He became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered. “I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate!’” (v. 28-30).

The older son was self-righteous. He did not appreciate being a son in his father. He didn’t want his father’s free love and he didn’t enjoy his relationship with him. The father explained to the older son that everything belonged to him. His father had provided the means for him to have a celebration every day, but he didn’t use his gifts!

As children of our earthly fathers, at times we are like both brothers. We’re being tempted to rebel against God. And like Lee Strobel with his father, we don’t want to expose our sinful pride and weakness. So, we remain unrepentant. At the same time, we’re tempted to scorn those who we think have not measured up to our standards. Yet, God comes to us in His Word just like that loving father did and calls us to listen to Him and to know that we all are undeserving self-seeking sinners who will die and receive a just punishment in hell.

But second, we are also children of God through faith in Christ. God tells us in His Word about His love. No matter how rebellious we are, the Father does not want lose us. The father in Jesus’ parable wanted both his sons to know his love. Back to Lee Strobel. One day he got the news that his father had died. He returned for his viewing feeling devastated. Now his grudge against his father seemed foolish. He had always thought that his father disowned him after their argument. But, to Lee’s surprise, people at the viewing who worked with his father said how his father was proud of him and showed them his son’s articles. Lee couldn’t believe it. All those years of holding a grudge against his father, and all the time his father had not only forgiven him but expressed his love for him. Lee had missed it! He applied that lesson a few years later when he became a Christian. He compared his estrangement with his father to the separation that people have with God.

Our heavenly Father daily calls us to be rid of our sins and receive Christ’s forgiveness. The younger son not only repented with words, he left his sinful life and returned to His father. When our family life is affected by our sins, we turn to God for answers. When He calls us to change, we will. We do this because God has so much more to offer us. The younger son remembered his past and what blessings he had! “How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say… Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (v.18-20). He felt unworthy to be his son. His only hope was for mercy.

Jesus told this parable of the father’s love so we understand that no matter where our sins have led us, there is still a place for us with God. Our God is filled with compassion for us. “He does not treat us as our sins deserve.” (Psalms 103:10) How beautifully Jesus described this in the parable. “While he was a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf…. Let’s have a feast and celebrate” (18-21). The father had been eagerly looking to see his son and to give him a warm embrace, the finest robe, and a family ring. Even the feast was beyond what the son could have dreamed to receive after he had dishonored his family! This is the kind of love that we fathers are to show our families. We want children to respect us because God has given us authority in our homes to represent Him. But, at the same time, if we represent God in the home, we need to show His forgiveness, His love, and His faithful commitment like the father in the parable. On the one hand this seems impossible because everyone has a sinful nature. But, as Christians, we are God’s children. He has called us live in Christ, reflecting His forgiveness and love for each other.

When we don’t have the love of God as we should, we look to Jesus, whose life reflected love for God. He willingly gave up His life to save us from being condemned for our sins. Jesus paid the cost to include us in God’s family. How blessed we are in Christ! We want to confess our sins like the son did and remember God’s gracious love. Paul wrote, “Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). As the children of God in Christ, we joyfully serve Him.

Jesus’ parable doesn’t say, but I’m sure that the younger son was a model worker after his father welcomed him home. So, as parents, children, or in any situation, we can be glad of whom we are in Christ. Prayerfully, when we have a dispute like Lee Strobel, we won’t lose sight of the love of Christ. We’ll take the opportunity to express regrets for our sins and seek to be reunited with people before it is too late. Like our heavenly Father, we want all people to be saved and enjoy the eternal celebration in heaven. Because of our loving Father and the work of His Son, we can be confident of being a part of that celebration in heaven. There is no greater blessing that we can offer to people than for them to be children of our heavenly Father. Amen.