Celebrating Divine Love

Bible Book: Luke  15 : 17-31
Subject: Love, God's

Celebrating The Father's Love

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com
Introduction

Luke 15:17-31

Today we look at a parable which Jesus shared with those who accused Him of loving sinners. Aren't we glad that He is guilty of that charge! If Jesus had not loved sinners, no path to salvation would have been available to us. When we come to Christ, we discover the greatest love on earth - the greatest love in the Universe. Today I want you to join me in looking at the return of the Prodigal Son and see in this parable how sinners end up Celebrating The Father's Love.

The parable of The Prodigal Son reveals how each of us has taken the life God has given us and wasted it in sin. Everyone is a sinner, for there is none righteous, no not one. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. In this parable the Father gives his youngest son an inheritance and the boy goes away to the bright lights to spend it - to waste it - in foolish living. Finally, the boy comes to himself and realizes that the path he is on leads to nothing by pig waste and death. Thus, the boy rises and comes back to His Father. The way the boy is received is a picture of God's love for sinners, for when we come to Him there is a divine, glorious, celebration of joy waiting.

Note with me now the nature of the celebration in the presence of God...

I. The Grace in this Celebration

God’s love is seen in His amazing, abundant grace. Notice how we see it in this parable.

A. The Father Identified with the Sinful Boy

What a wonder it is - God identifying Himself with us. He ran to the boy and called him, "Son." The minute any one of us turns from our sin and places faith in Christ, God identifies with us. When a lost person comes in repentance and faith, he is made a part of God's family. When a believer comes in confession of sin, he is restored through God's loving forgiveness.

This is what Jesus was trying to show the Pharisees and teachers of the law. They criticized Jesus for welcoming sinners and outcasts. Jesus sought to show them that this was His purpose in coming to the earth. He came to seek and to save that which was lost.

A boy was in court for his day of sentencing. The judge asked the young man to stand. Just then an old man stood in the gallery. It was the father of the wayward boy. He stood with tears in his eyes. He was identifying himself with the son who had gone wrong. When a Christian sins, God does not forsake him. He does not cast us out. We are in His hand.

I like what I heard a preacher say some years ago about sinning believers. He said, "When a Christian sins, God does not let him go, He just tightens His grip all the more."

Jesus came to take my place at Calvary. He identified with me, so that I might be identified with the Father. Hallelujah, What A Savior.

B. The Father Initiated the Celebration for the Sinful Boy

The Father called for a party. He hired a band, killed a fattened calf, and invited guests. This is a picture of how God feels about one person who turns from sin. Heaven breaks out in song.

Isn't it amazing? God throws a party for rebels like us! This is a miracle of God's grace. It is not something the boy deserved. Neither do we deserve to have God make a fuss over us. But that is what He does.

C. The Father is Involved in the Celebration for the Sinful Boy

The Father is pictured as being in the midst of the celebration. He is not far off somewhere alone. When the elder brother in this story came in from the field, the Father went out from the party to invite him in. God rejoices over one sinner who repents. Zephaniah 3:17 states that God Himself sings of the returning sinner.

This is a story about the grace of God. We do not deserve what He has given. It is all the result of His goodness and love. God is not waiting for us to get better before He will receive us, He alone can cleanse us and make us His own.

II. The Gifts at the Celebration

God’s love and grace never appear without gifts. He is a giver and that is why we as believers ought to be givers as well. But, let’s notice the gifts presented because of God’s love.

A. The Robe - The Father's Testimony

He had rags, God have him a robe! He had no testimony, but God gave Him His testimony. He covered the boy with His love.

B. The Ring - The Father's Title

The signet ring had the family name upon it. It carried the family authority. He traded his want for the Father's wealth. (Phil 4:19)

C. The Shoes - The Father's Tenderness

Instead of stripes, the Father gave him shoes for his sore, bleeding feet. Only slaves were barefooted. God knows where you are hurting and He cares! There is a Balm in Gilead!

D. The Calf - The Father's Table

A family set the fattened calf aside in those days for special occasions. When the Prodigal came home, the father did not have to begin fattening a calf for the celebration. The calf was already prepared and waiting. The Father always has a fattened calf ready. Whenever you and I are brought to the point of confession and repentance, the celebration is ready, and God is prepared for the occasion!

J. Wilbur Chapman tells of traveling by train out west when they came to the Grand Canyon. He was spellbound by the beauty and wonder of it. A woman sat reading a book and he asked her why she was reading a book when such beauty was available for her to see out the window of the train. She said that she had been on the trip thirteen times and it had lost its beauty to her. O, God deliver us from losing our sensitivity to the beauty of the Lord and His salvation. Let us never become so hardened that we can be in the midst of God's grace and forget his beauty!

A preacher friend of mine told me he saw a sign in a restaurant that said, "T-bone Steak, $2.50." He was excited, so he went in, sat down and then he saw the fine print. It said, "T-bone $2.50. With Meat $11.95." Thank God, for He does not throw us meatless bones!

The home the Prodigal had hated, he now loved. He had run of the house and now he loved it! He had use of the bedroom because that is where they found the robe. He had use of the backroom, for that is where they found the shoes. He had use of the business room, for that is where they found the ring. He had use of the banquet room, for that is where they fed the calf. Oh, how marvelous is the love and grace of Christ our Lord!

III. The Gladness in the Celebration

We see the gleeful gladness in this parable. What created such gladness and joy?

A. There is Gladness in Living Things

Think of the elder brother who had remained at home with the Father. He had become dead to the blessings all around him. Yes, that can happen to those of us who have known the Lord for a long time. Think about that elder brother.

1. He was dead to the Atmosphere of the home.
2. He was dead to the Activity of the home.
3. He was dead to the Advantages of the home.

The Prodigal was alive to the atmosphere, activity and advantages of the home. That is how we should be in God's House. Enliven us, O God. Bring life today. Turn this day into a true heavenward celebration.

B. There is Gladness in Located Things

The Prodigal had been Lost from the Father's Blessings and Lost from the Father's Bosom. Now he was Found! He had located what he had been looking for in all the wrong places. So many people are "looking for love in all the wrongs places," as the songwriter said. You can only find that love in Jesus!

Have you ever lost something special, and perhaps thought you would never find it? Then, one day you stumble across it again. There is tremendous joy and gladness is finding lost things. The songwriter penned the words,

“He has made me glad,
Yes, He has made me glad;
I will rejoice for He has made me glad.”
C. There Is Gladness in Liberated Things

The Prodigal was like a hostage home from war. He was like a sick man who has been healed from an illness. He was liberated from self and sin! He was free indeed!

You or someone you love has been in the hospital for treatment or surgery. The day comes that you are allowed to go home. They take off the tubes, the tags and those crazy gowns that embarrass us all. At last you are free. You go outside to smell the fresh air and it feels like you have been released from prison. You feel like clapping your hands.

Let me tell you that there is nothing so liberating as the freedom and joy that comes from knowing Jesus as Savior and Lord. Sometimes life gets us down and we need to be reminded that we are free. We need to feel afresh the liberation that is ours because of the love of God in Christ.

Conclusion

In the Father’s House there was music. In the Father’s House there was welcome. In the Father’s House there was light, for the elder brother saw it when he came in from the field. The celebration in the house got loud and happy. Yes, that is how we should be as God's people. Worship is a celebration of the Father's love and grace.

Do you now have "joy unspeakable and full of glory?" Maybe you have been gazing at the world and glancing at the Lord. Why not turn your eyes toward Home - toward Him! Gaze on Him and discover afresh the love and joy of being in the Father's Family. And, if you have never received Him as your Lord and Savior, now is the time to do so. He has a party waiting just for you.