The Picture of a Patient Father

Bible Book: Luke  15 : 11-31
Subject: Prodigal Son

The Picture of a Patient Father

Jerry Watts

Luke 15:11-31

Just to show that there are people in this world who have too much time on their hands, I want to read a paraphrase of our text that I came across this week. It is entitled The Parable of the Prodigal in the Key of F:

"Feeling footloose and frisky, a featherbrained fellow forced his fond father to fork over his farthings. He flew far to foreign fields and frittered his fortune, feasting fabulously with faithless friends. Finally facing famine and fleeced by his fellows-in-folly, he found himself a feed flinger in a filthy farmyard. Fairly famished, he fain would have filled his frame with foraged food from the fodder fragments.

"Fooey, my father's flunkies fare far fancier," the frazzled fugitive fumed feverishly, frankly facing facts. Frustrated by failure and filled with foreboding, he fled forthwith to his family. Falling at his father's feet, he floundered forlornly, "Father, I have flunked and fruitlessly forfeited family favor." But the faithful father, forestalling further flinching, frantically flagged the flunkies to fetch forth the finest fatling and fix a feast.

The fugitive's fraternal faultfinder frowned on the fickle forgiveness of former folderol. His fury flashed, but fussing was futile. The farsighted father figured, "Such filial fidelity is fine, but what forbids fervent festivity for the fugitive is found. Unfurl the flags with flaring, let fun and frolic freely flow. Former failure is forgotten, folly forsaken. Forgiveness frees the future forever!"

In whatever key it is written, this is a story about a father's love. Let’s not miss the point?

This story is very familiar. People of every persuasion know the story of the younger son, we call him “The prodigal son.”  We don’t know what his name was; Tim, Tom, Tommy, or Tony, we just don’t know his name, but in the minds of all who know this story, it’s about the baby boy.

Yet, this story is a family of three, a father & TWO sons. It likely that some preacher or teacher in days passed have said this to you, but this family has TWO WAYWARD sons, and from the information Jesus gives, only ONE TRULY COMES HOME. The younger boy physically left, departed, ran away, but then came home. But from what I read, the older son emotionally left, never came to His senses, and he never came back.  

But the boys are not the message for us today, that will have to wait until maybe another time.

Today is Father’s Day (my first one without my earthly dad). I want us to see this Father because this Father represents our Heavenly Father in so many ways. It will help us not only become better Fathers, but better people, and hopefully challenge us to be in GOD’S FAMILY.  

Please visualize with me 4 pictures of this Father.  

1.    The First picture is the Humanity of the Father

He was a real person. Think about the culture of that day. The boys would receive the inheritance, that was a given, however children did not really challenge their parents at all, particularly dad. Honestly, I was raised like that.  When dad said something, it was law. Had this Father given off the air of superiority, the younger son would not have been brave enough to what he did and approach his Father to ask for His share of the farm or stuff. Obviously, the Father had told the boys how he would divide up the farm, and how he desired to be fair, but the younger son (who was an adult) wanted his part NOW and he didn’t want to wait for the execution of the Father’s will. So, this request was kind of like saying, “Dad, I wish you were dead and gone.”

a.    Watch the Father’s response

Verse 12 says, “He divided or distributed what he had to THEM.” He didn’t just give it to the younger boy, he gave the older brother his share at the same time.  In other words, the Father emptied his bank account, giving to his sons, leaving himself with just himself. This is EXACTLY WHAT THE HEAVENLY FATHER DID FOR US WHEN HE SENT JESUS FROM HEAVEN TO EARTH FOR US.  

b.    The father in the story gave all that he had to His children in hopes that this would take care of their restlessness and dissatisfaction, he likely thought that would calm the younger boy down, and enjoy being a part of the family but it didn’t. Verse 13 says, ‘He journeyed to a far country.’  

2.    The Second Picture is HURT OF THE FATHER

It might be better to say a ‘hurting father’ because His hurt wasn’t one and done, it was ongoing. He had 2 sons, one was physically gone, and the other had checked out emotionally. A word to Students, “Make no mistake, your parents can read your attitude.  You’re not really good at hiding it.” No doubt this Father felt like a failure because of His boys.  Truthfully, only parents can really identify with this because parental love is a love like no other. Students, you think your friends are great, but parents love you more.

Why do I say that?  Because parents will protect, sacrifice, and die for you, no friend loves your like they do. This is why they are in your face.

We need to get our hearts around this truth:  The hurt of this Father when His boys went AWOL is a caricature of how God, our Father hurts, when you run from Him. He has given us His best to and for you in Jesus, the offer of salvation, and the offer of a relationship with Him through His Son.  Yet, it hurts Him when we, too often, reject His offer and run away to a ‘far country’ of our own.  I heard this said, “The far country was a place in the boy’s heart long before it was a location on a map.”  I submit to you that the same can be true of us – and it hurts the heart of God.

NOW in the context of this story, we know what happened. The boy went to a far country, wasted everything HIS FATHER had given Him (another message), and wound up in a pig pen. When you run away from the Father, Satan always has a pig pen with your name on it!!  

My prayer is that NO ONE HERE has to find himself/herself in a pig pen before they come to their senses! That is what came to himself means.  He came to Himself and started home.  Meanwhile back at the ranch.

3.    The third picture is THE HOPE OF THE FATHER

Every though it seemed like his boy, took every opportunity He had to stick the knife in and turn it, the Father never gave up and lost hope. I suggest to you based on what we know about this father; that from first day Son left, the Father had prayed for His protection and His return and hoped & longed for the day. What do I say that? It is the most basic instinct for a parent. I suggest that he prayed (hoped) for God to do what was required to help the boy COME TO HIS SENSES and come home.    

Allow me to offer a warning right here. That is a dangerous prayer.  Be careful what you pray for, you might get it.  Dad didn’t want to pray son in a far country to go through poverty, famine, servitude, & a pigpen, just that his boy to come to His senses and come home. God prepared the only place where this would happen. By the way, our daughter was a prodigal.  And her pigpen was an ‘out of wedlock pregnancy’ and she came to her senses.

One prayer you pray is this: Don’t let them kill themselves going through this ‘bubba’ stage’.

We know the Father was hoping because the Father was looking.  Verse 20.  Isn’t that just like a dad – to watch for you to come home. He didn’t even let Him finish practicing or saying His speech, he blubbered all over Him.

Don’t miss this: This is God. His Hope for YOU? If you have walked away or never walked in, he is looking for you to come to your senses and come home. He doesn’t want you to throw away HIS GIFT. He wants best for you.

4.    The fourth picture is the HAPPINESS OF THE FATHER  

The boy came home, and the Father couldn’t contain His happiness. The son came home confessing and the Father was hugging. It was a happy day in the father’s house. His son was home! What else could there be?  

You know what he did (this makes Baptists nervous 24d, 25) HE THREW A PARTY! We can learn from this Father! My child who was dead is now alive, He was lost and now is found.

 Do you know what makes God happy? When someone comes home and follows Christ, God throws a party. Why? Look back in verse 10: “There is joy in the presence of angels over one sinner who repents (comes home).”

Apart from Jesus, the Bible tells us we are dead in trespasses and sin. When we come to Christ, in faith, trust and belief, we are forgiven, and then given a new life. It is abundant on earth and eternal, beyond this life.  

Nothing pleases the father like the prodigal coming home, He throws a party. Perhaps, you have come to Christ but left Him. You remember when you and Jesus were on First name basis, but you have been to the far country and slipped back into that part of life that once held you captive.  Maybe you made a decision in a difficult time to walk away & maybe now you have been trying to find your way back home. Nothing would thrill the Father as much as you coming home today. When you come home, all Heaven Rejoices.

See this Picture of a Patient Father as the Picture of God. He is hurt by Sin-our resistance, rebellion, and rejection. He is wanting us to come to our senses (before the pig pen). He is Happy only when we come home to Him. Why not come home today?!  The older brother may not like it – He is in HIS pig pen!