Sermon for Lent 4 – 3.27.22

+ 4th Sunday in Lent – March 27th, 2022 +

Series C: Isaiah 12; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“The Parable of the Gracious Father”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

We call it The Parable of the Prodigal Son. It’s a familiar story. And there is the wayward, lost, ungrateful, reckless, prodigal son. But that’s not all. There’s more to this story.

 

It’s easy to forget Jesus’ opening line of the parable. “There was a man who had two sons.” We could just as easily call it The Parable of the Two Lost Sons. For in reality, both sons are lost. The younger son loses himself in betrayal, rejection, reckless living, only to squander his inheritance. And yet, without ever leaving home, the older son is lost as well. Lost in pride, anger, jealousy, and self-righteousness. But there’s more to this story.

 

At the center of this story, at the center of these two sons’ lives, stands their abundantly gracious, loving father. A father whose love is truly unconditional, whose love is revealed in giving outrageous forgiveness for undeserving sinners.

 

That’s the setting of this, and the other parables in Luke 15. The Scribes and Pharisees were grumbling “Jesus receives sinners and eats with them.” No doubt they meant that as an insult. But it’s true. That’s exactly what Jesus did, and still does. Jesus receives sinners like you and me. And eats with us. Feeds you. Forgives you. Loves you.

 

Today, listen to this story with a different title in mind: The Parable of the Gracious Father.

 

“There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’

 

The younger son’ demand is disrespectful at best, and downright depraved at worst. Even in our culture, you receive an inheritance after someone dies. Not before. The younger son, then, is telling his father to drop dead. You’re no good to me alive. The only value you have to me is your stuff and your money. So just give me my share of the inheritance. Now. And I’ll be on my way.

 

And how does the father reply? He doesn’t reject his younger son. He doesn’t tell him to get off my lawn, and never come home. No. None of that. In the first of several shocking, unexpected reactions, the father gives the younger son exactly what he wants. Most translations say, “He divided his property.” No, it’s stronger than that. It says he “divided his life.” His livelihood. He divided his life for his sons. Between them, Jesus says. That’s right. Both sons.

 

The younger son, then, adds insult to injury and skips town; leaves his father, his family, his home, and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. Pretty soon his money ran out. A severe famine hits. And he finds himself about as far away from home both geographically and spiritually as he could get. A Jewish young man working as a servant for a gentile pig farmer. Not only that, even the unclean pigs have it better than he does.

 

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!  I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’  And he arose and came to his father.

 

And here’s the next series of shocking, gracious actions on the part of the father. The father sees his son from a long way off. You get the feeling he would stand there on the porch at a certain time every day, waiting, watching, looking for his younger son, day after day after day. And then one day, he sees his younger son coming down the road. And what does he do? Lock the doors, turn off the lights, and pretend he’s gone? No.

 

The father runs. Rich men don’t usually run, much less in robes. It would’ve been embarrassing. Humiliating. Especially after the way his younger son treated him. But he doesn’t care. He loves his son. The father loves his son with a gut-wrenching compassion. He goes out to meet him. Embraces him. Kisses him. Signs of welcome, acceptance, love, and reconciliation.

 

The younger son repeats his confession, at least part of it. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son.

 

The father interrupts. He goes about his shockingly, gracious ways once again. “Quickly, quickly” he tells his servants. “Bring out the best robe and clothe him. Put the family signet ring back on his finger. Sandals on this feet. And, prepare the fattened calf.”

 

The father’s robe covers his son’s transgressions. Clothed in the father’s grace. The family signet ring was a sign of authority, authorizing the son to do business again on the father’s behalf. Sandals…servants didn’t wear sandals. Only someone in the household, part of the family wore sandals. And the fattened calf. A sacrifice. A feast of joy. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

 

The father is gracious. His love is unconditional, unmerited, unlimited, and unbounded. His grace and mercy are overwhelming, overflowing, and over abundant. And not just to his younger son. But for his older son too.

 

When the father learns that his older son is sulking and stewing in anger and jealousy and pride out in the fields, notice what the gracious father does. The father went out to his older son. Entreats him. Pleads with him.

 

How does the older son respond to his gracious father? He joins the party, right? Sadly, no. He launches into a tirade of self-righteous pity and pride. Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’

 

Again, notice the father’s shocking, unexpected response to his older son. He doesn’t tell him to wise up and stop being an ungrateful little snot. No. There’s no judgment, no criticism, no rejection. There is only the father’s gracious, unflinching, unconditional love.

 

Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

 

Remember, Jesus tells this story surrounded by tax collectors, sinners, Scribes, and Pharisees. He wanted them to see themselves in this parable. He wants us to see ourselves in this story too. And what part do we play in this story? The reckless, wayward younger son, or the prideful, self-righteous older son? Truth is we’re a bit of both sons. Like the younger son we often find ourselves lost in our own sinful desires. And like the older son, we often find ourselves lost in our own self-righteousness.

 

And like both sons, we find ourselves on the receiving end of the gracious father. That’s who this parable is really about. The good and gracious Father who sends His only begotten Son to save you.

This parable, like all of Jesus’ parables in one way or another, is about God’s outrageous forgiveness for undeserving sinners in his Son Jesus.

 

Yes, this is a story about two sons. But above all, it’s the story of God’s gracious, unconditional, unmerited, unwavering love for you in His Son, Jesus crucified and risen for you.

 

Come, let us at and celebrate. For we who were dead are alive again in Jesus. We who were lost, are found and brought home by his cross and empty tomb.

 

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

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Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

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Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

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Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
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