Reading: Luke 15:11-32
The parable of the lost son
11 Jesus continued: ‘There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, “Father, give me my share of the estate.” So he divided his property between them.
13 ‘Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 ‘When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.” 20 So he got up and went to his father.
‘But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms round him and kissed him.
21 ‘The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
22 ‘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. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate.
25 ‘Meanwhile, the elder son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 “Your brother has come,” he replied, “and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.”
28 ‘The elder brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!”
31 ‘“My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
We are going to look at some famous dads in the bible, and I want to see if you know who they are. I’m going to give you a clue, and you have to guess who they are. We are going to divide the church into two, so if you get the answer correct you get a prize, but if you don’t get the answer correct, then the other side gets another clue.
So let’s start with the first :
Clue One: My wife laughed when she found she was going to have a baby at such an old age. Who am I?
Clue Two: I am the father of Ishmael and Isaac. Who am I?
Clue Three: God promised me that my descendants would be as many as there are stares in the sky. Who am I?
Clue Four: God gave me the greatest test of my life when he asked me to sacrifice my son. Who am I?
Clue Five: I should not have listened to my wife when she asked me to have a child with our maidservant. Who am I?
Clue One: I cheated my brother out of his birthright. Who am I?
Clue Two: My second to youngest son was sold into slavery by his brothers. Who am I?
Clue Three: I had twelve sons who became the twelve tribes of Israel. Who am I?
Clue Four: I had two wives who were sisters. I loved one more than the other. Who am I?
Clue Five: I wrestled with God and He changed my name to Israel. Who am I?
Clue One: I was my father’s favourite child. He proved it by giving me a special coat. Who am I?
Clue Two: My brothers sold me into slavery when I was a young boy. Who am I?
Clue Three: I was the second youngest of twelve sons. Who am I?
Clue Four: I had an Egyptian wife and became the father of two sons. Who am I?
Clue Five: I was the second youngest of twelve sons. Who am I?
Clue One: I killed a Philistine giant with my slingshot and just one stone. Who am I?
Clue Two: I was the king’s harp player and wrote many songs about God. Who am I?
Clue Three: I was the youngest of eight sons and helped tend my father’s sheep. Who am I?
Clue Four: My best friend was Jonathan. Who am I?
Clue Five: I became the father of Solomon who would later become king. Who am I?
Clue One: My first home was a garden. Who am I?
Clue Two: I was the first man to become a father. Who am I?
Clue Three: My father is God. Who am I?
Clue Four: My first son murdered his brother. Who am I?
Clue Five: I enjoyed perfect fellowship with God for a time. Who am I?
Clue One: One of my sons tricked me into thinking he was his brother and so received my best blessing. Who am I?
Clue Two: I became the father of twin boys. Who am I?
Clue Three: My wife was chosen for me by God because she watered my servant’s camels. Who am I?
Clue Four: My father became “the father of many nations.” Who am I?
Clue Five: It was promised that my brother and I would become great nations. Who am I?
Clue One: My wife gave birth to a very special baby. Who am I?
Clue Two: Some very wise men came to visit my wife and I after she gave birth. Who am I?
Clue Three: I was a carpenter by trade. Who am I?
Clue Four: I wanted to quietly divorce my wife. Who am I?
Clue Five: My wife and I became very worried one day when we could not find our son. Who am I?
Clue One: My son would prepare the way for the Lord. Who am I?
Clue Two: An angel came to me in the temple and told me that I would be the father of a very great man. Who am I?
Clue Three: Because I did not believe the angel, I became silent until my son was born. Who am I?
Clue Four: I was a priest in the Lord’s temple. Who am I?
Clue Five: I was a very old man when I became a father for the first time. Who am I?
So let’s recap the story today. Jesus told a story about a father who had 2 sons whom he loved a lot. Let’s call them Peter and Josh. It wasn’t their real names. One day Peter went up to his dad and said, I want my share of the money that will be due to me some day – I don’t want to wait on it, I want it now. And so his Father because he was loving, gave Peter the money. Peter packed his bags and travelled off to another country. And when he got there he partied and spent all his money. He completely wasted all his money, and when the country he was staying in had a famine he realised he was in real difficulty. So he had to get a job so he could survive because he had spent all his money. The only job that he could get was feeding smelly pigs. Peter was so hungry that he wanted to eat the food that the pigs were being served. He realised just had bad things were and he realised how he had walked away from his dad who looked after him so well. He was really worried about what to say to his dad, but he decided with his head in his hands to go back and say sorry. He realised that if he would go back, having spent all the money his dad had given him, that there was no chance that he would be recognised as a son any longer, but maybe just maybe he could get a job as a servant. His dad was out in the field, longing for his son to return, and then one day away in the distance, the dad could see his son walking back. He was so excited that he pulled up his clothes and ran so hard towards his son. As he got to him his dad gave him such a big hug and smothered him with big kisses. His father was so delighted to see his son again that he asked his servants to bring a new robe for him, a nice ring, sandals, and then to finish off he had a massive party for the town to celebrate. Not everyone was happy, because Josh his brother saw what treatment Peter was getting while he was working really hard for his dad. So he went to his dad to object to being treated that way. But the father told Josh that he had always been faithful to him, and that all he had was Josh’s, but it was so important to celebrate and be glad because he brother had been lost and now he was found again.
In this story we see a Father who welcomes back his son with open arms, loving and celebrating him, even though his son has made some really bad decisions in life. Isn’t that the kind of father we all would want, one who really cares for you. On this Father’s Day we celebrate the love between Fathers and their children. Being a good dad is not an easy task. So if you have a dad who loves you then let them know how much you appreciate them. But no dad is perfect, even the best dads make mistakes from time to time. Maybe today you don’t have the best relationship with your dad, or maybe you are old and the memory of your dad brings back bad memories of how he treated you. Maybe today your dad is not around and you are being looked after by your mum or another relative. The good news for all of us is that Bible tells us God is our heavenly father; a father who loves us, cares for us. Let’s look at what the Bible says about our Father God.
Psalm 68:5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
Psalm 103:13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
1 John 3:1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!..“
That makes a huge difference in your life if you think your dad has completely let you down. But even more than that, God is a father to everyone. He is filled with love and compassion, just like the dad in today’s story. We just need to know that he is running towards us with arms wide open because he loves us. Maybe today we know that in life like the son, we have messed up, and today we need to know that we can go back to our heavenly father, and even though we would think he won’t take us back, he will welcome us with open arms. That’s a promise. So do something special for your dad today, or for the people who care for you today.
And for dads today, keep up the good work. Remember that God is a heavenly father for you also, helping you be a better father yourself.
As dads we need at times to be reminded to be constantly encouraging our children, so that they know how much we love them and how much we want the best for them. However at times it can feel that as dads we expect too much from our children. So to help this, you will see the little card that’s in your pews that has 3 questions for kids today to ask their dads. So at some point today kids, can I encourage you to ask your dads these 3 questions on the card.
- What do you enjoy about your life right now?
- How do you think God has gifted me?
- Who was important in your life when you were young and what did you learn from them that you would like to pass on to me?
Hopefully in September we are going to launch a new ministry called LEGACY which is a ministry for fathers in which to encourage the father-son, father-daughter relationship to grow: equipping fathers as disciple makers. This will involve Father & Grandfather & son/daughter days, overnighters, and from this it is my hope to see your relationships grow.