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From Rebellion to Restoration: The Unquenchable Grace of the Father (Luke 15:11-32)

Luke 15:11–32 - 11 And He said, “A man had two sons. 12 “The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. 13 “And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. 14 “Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. 15 “So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 “And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. 17 “But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 18 ‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” ’ 20 “So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate. 25 “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 “And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. 27 “And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 “But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. 29 “But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ 31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 ‘But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’ ” What does today’s passage say? In this passage, Jesus shares a parable about God's profound mercy and grace toward sinners who repent. A wealthy man's younger son demands his inheritance to leave immediately and live independently. He parties wildly, wastefully spending it all (vv. 11-13). Severe famine soon strikes the land and he is completely destitute, humbled to feeding pigs just to survive (vv. 14-16). Realizing even servants in his father's house have food while he starves, the son "comes to his senses". He decides to return repentantly asking mercy to work as a hired hand (vv. 17-19). But the father sees his long-lost son approaching from afar. Overwhelmed with compassion, he runs to embrace him before the son can even finish his rehearsed apology (v. 20). Though he squandered his inheritance, the ecstatic father celebrates his son's return by honoring him with gifts and throwing a lavish feast (vv. 22-24). Yet when the elder obedient son hears the party, he becomes resentful over such extravagant grace for his wayward sibling (vv. 25-30). But the father tenderly implores him to rejoice at his brother's redemption rather than comparing or judging (vv. 31-32). How can I apply Luke 15:11-32 to my life? The Parable of the Lost Son provides a poignant illustration of the incredible mercy and forgiveness freely offered from our compassionate Heavenly Father toward all His wayward children enslaved by sin. In the same way that the father extended loving mercy toward his defiant son who ended up feeding pigs after squandering his entire inheritance in wild and selfish living, God yearns to lavish His grace and restoration on even the most undeserving, vile sinners who have rejected Him. No matter how many poor choices we have made or how long we have resisted His wisdom for our lives, when we come to our senses regarding our own moral poverty and bankruptcy apart from Christ, turning back to God in genuine repentance and humility rather than continuing to wallow in the mire of sin, He runs to meet us even while still far off. He embraces us with open arms of unconditional love and full reconciliation the moment our hearts open to receive His undeserved mercy and forgiveness. What glorious hope and comfort the parable offers regarding the power of sincere repentance igniting celebration and intimacy with our redeeming Heavenly Father! Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

  1. Never Lose Sight of God's Boundless Blessings, Mercy, and Forgiveness (vv. 17-20): As we see in the passage, once the son “came to his senses”, he recognized that even his father’s hired servants had it better than his current dire circumstances, so he returned home prepared to accept a lower position. Though he had squandered his father’s blessings and sinned greatly, the father welcomed him back with open arms before he could even finish his repentant confession speech, embracing and celebrating his lost son who now was found. In the same manner, rather than taking God's mercy and gifts for granted, we must live daily in light of His lavish care. Even when we sin or follow destructive paths, God will run to forgive and restore all His eternally abundant blessings if we repent with humility, recognizing our dependence on Him. Never allow familiarity with grace to breed contempt through arrogance or complacency (Hebrews 12:14-16; 1 Timothy 6:17; Hebrews 12:15-17).

Food for Thought: Are you motivated to obey primarily by guilt, pride, or true gratitude for mercy? Have you slipped into feeling entitled to God’s blessings rather than approaching Him with humility and awe?

  1. Celebrate the Restoration of Others, Just as God Does (vv. 22-24): The passage shows how rather than offering judgment or lingering shame when his lost son returned, the father called for celebration and restoration. However, the elder brother’s bitter envy and self-righteous comparison reveals the common religious tendency to secretly resent God’s grace shown toward the sinful and morally broken. We must guard our hearts against such loveless judgment that arrogantly assumes others must earn favor through righteous living as we have. Ask God to continually fill you with celebratory praise as He pursues, redeems, and transforms lives. Rejoice whenever the lost turn back to the Father, for their restoration reminds us salvation is by grace alone (Luke 15:7; Ephesians 2:4-9; Romans 11:30-32).

Food for Thought: Do you find yourself secretly judging how God bestows grace on those you deem less worthy? How might remembering that same lavish grace being given to you lead to rejoicing over God’s mercy shown to all?

  1. Guard Against the Dangers of Self-Righteousness (vv. 25-30): As illustrated through the bitter elder brother who envied the grace extended to his wayward sibling, religious pride blinds us from sharing in the joy of seeing lost sons and daughters return home to the Father. Self-righteous comparison minimizes our own brokenness and need for mercy. We begin viewing forgiveness and eternal life as something to earn rather than receive freely by grace. The chilling danger of such arrogance is that we may entirely miss entering God’s Kingdom while outwardly appearing obedient and righteous. Beg God to continually reveal any pride that blinds you from recognizing your need for the cross. As Jesus spent time loving and calling sinners to repentance, ask Him to guard your heart from self-elevating comparison (Matthew 23:27-28; Proverbs 26:12; 2 Corinthians 10:12).

Food for thought: Do you struggle with looking down on others who live more blatantly sinful lives? How might meditating on the grace shown freely to you increase humility and compassion?

  1. Embrace God's Generosity and Share it With Others (vv. 31-32): The passage reveals how the faithful elder brother failed to appreciate the extravagant compassion of His father. Though constantly in his presence, he did not share the heart of his generous, merciful dad who lavished love and favor on the undeserving. We must not emulate such joyless obedience. As beloved heirs who receive God's eternal blessings by grace through Christ, our calling is to embrace His overflowing generosity with wonder and gratitude especially when God extends it to those that we might deem unworthy. Allow a clearer vision of such incomprehensible grace to overflow in bold, creative expressions of compassion to all people--especially those still far from God but who He yearns to call home (Ephesians 2:7-9; Ephesians 3:20-21; Matthew 25:14-30).

Food for Thought: Is your Christian life more characterized by grim duty or wonder-filled delight over God's gifts and calling? Are you using His provision to generously serve and meet needs of those still far from God? As beautifully depicted in this moving parable, our Heavenly Father's heart breaks when His beloved children wander far from His wise path for their lives. Yet He never stops scanning the horizon for the first sign of our repentant return, running to welcome us back the moment we turn from sin desiring restoration. He showers His grace and blessings on all who recognize their dependence on Him rather than continuing down a prideful, destructive road of self-sufficiency that inevitably ends in despair and bankruptcy of soul. May we never presume upon the Father's patience or take for granted His offer of undeserved forgiveness and mercy extended through Christ to all who come to Him with genuine humility and repentant faith. Let us live in joyful obedience as beloved sons and daughters simply grateful to be called His own. Yet we must also intercede earnestly for prodigals still clinging to the illusory freedoms of independence from the Creator who alone can satisfy their restless hearts. As the compassionate Father in this parable, God refuses to give up on any soul no matter how far they have strayed. May we reflect that same patient, forgiving love until He draws every last lost sheep home to Himself. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would give me a deeper understanding of the lavish mercy and grace You have poured out on me through Christ even though I often take Your blessings for granted or demand my own way. Create in me a heart of profound gratitude, wonder and praise in light of such compassion that sent Jesus to redeem me while I was still chained in the prison cell of sin and rebellion against You. I pray that You would make me quick to celebrate whenever a lost soul turns from darkness to Your glorious light rather than judging others while foolishly elevating my own goodness apart from Your grace. Protect my heart from the grave errors of self-righteous comparison that can so easily blind me to my own need for daily repentance and reliance only on the cross. I pray that You would fill me more fully with Your patience, mercy and forgiving love so I can faithfully intercede for prodigals still far from You rather than self-righteously condemning those enslaved in sin. As I reflect on this poignant call for all rebels to return to the open arms of the waiting Father, create in me a greater longing for the day when every knee bows before Christ and every tongue confesses His rightful authority as Lord of all. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Luke 15:20 - “So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” With His Blessings, Pastor Corby                

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