God, can you love him, too?
Reading: Luke 15:11-32
First, I would like to give you a 30 second of silence.
Why don’t you think about the text and mediate on it?
And if you like to pray, why don’t you use this 30 second for your prayer.
Why did Jesus tell this story?
It is a very famous story.
It is to help us experience God who rejoices over us, when we return to God.
When we return to God, we discover the kindness of God.
In order to experience this truth, let me retell the story like this:
(1) “There was a Jewish man who had two sons.
The younger son said to his father:
“Father, can you give my inheritance now in advance?”
This boy didn’t know how to handle that great amount of money.
But the father gave what he asked.
Then the younger son left the father.
He went to a faraway country with that money.
Then he wasted some of them.
He lost some of them.
Then he spent everything he had.
It was easy to get rid of that amount of money.
Then, there was a severe famine in that country.
He was not prepared for this.
So he became a homeless.
(2) He wanted to work.
Then he found the lowest paying job in the country.
His job was feeding pigs.
But with his salary, he could hardly feed himself.
He was so hungry.
He wanted to eat some of what these pigs were eating.
But nobody gave him anything.
Have the father heard about his son?
But he didn’t go to rescue his younger son.
This younger son chose to live without the father.
This son wanted to live without his father.
So he had to want to be otherwise.
So the father decided to wait for him.
Did the father know how much his son was suffering?
But the father decided to wait.
The younger son realized something valuable in his suffering.
“My father has many servants.
They were treated so well, much better than this.
They have plenty of food to eat.
Well, my father was very good to his servants.
I think I have to go to my father and say:
'Father, I have sinned against you and against God.
Now I am not asking you to accept me as your son.
Can you hire me as your servant?
Now he wanted to live with his father.
He wanted to be a servant of his father.
This was his hope for his future.
So he decided to have a go.
But when the father saw his son returning, the father was filled with compassion.
Then he ran and threw his arms around him and kissed him.
The son said:
“Father, I have sinned against God and against you.
I am not asking you to accept me as your son.
Can you hire me as your servant?”
But before finishing his speech, the father said to his servants:
Bring the best robe and put it on him.
Put the family ring on his finger and shoes on his feet.
Let’s have a party.”
Then the father gave him a new life.
They began to celebrate.
What does this story explain spiritually?
When this son left home, he was spiritually dead.
When he didn’t want to be with God, he was already dead inside.
By returning to God's way of living, he came back to life.
When this son returns to God, God runs to him.
This young man sinned about God.
He wasted his life and God's finance.
But the father welcomes him and loves him.
The father helps him to be fully alive again.
This young man learns about his father.
He realizes who his father really is.
He learns how to live.
He learns from his father.
Then he could become like his father.
His character and personality would become like God's.
Then he can share this love with his children, too.
(6) But now this story didn’t end, here, right?
There was the older son who was working in the field.
He heard music and dancing.
Then his servant told him:
“Your brother came home!
So, your father threw a party for him!”
The older son was mad:
“A party for him??!!
Does he deserve that?
What did he have done anything good??”
He didn't have the heart of the father.
So he didn't want to welcome his brother.
He didn't want to welcome the one whom his father is welcoming.
So, he refused to join the party.
(4) So the father tried to persuade him.
But the older son wanted to have everything.
He was like:
“I was the obedient son.
I take care of everything in this house.
I have never disobeyed your orders.
But you never threw a party for me and my friends.
But when this son of yours wasted your money and came back, you threw a party for him??!!
This is not fair!”
Jesus may be talking about those who have never left the church like this older brother.
Jesus may be talking about those who always try to keel all rules.
Then even though they have not left God physically, they have left God spiritually.
Even though they are with God, they are full of self righteousness.
So the father tried with embrace him God's righteousness.
The father was like:
“My son, you are always with me.
You can do whatever you want to do.
you don’t need to be so hard on yourself.
You have money.
You can offer a party for yourself and for your friends.
But today, we got to celebrate because your brother has just found his life back."
Telling this story, Jesus may be asking us:
Can you understand this kind of God?
Do you rejoice when someone returns to God?
Are you welcoming people with God?
Do you rejoice when God rejoices?
Do you live thinking like God?
(3) Talking about the younger son, Jesus explains God welcomes those who come back to God again.
God loves to see God’s children come alive.
(4) Talking about the older son, Jesus says that we can be lost in the church, when we are confused about whose righteousness we stand with.
If we think that we are doing wonderful things for God, instead of thinking that God works through us, we may become like this older son.
Then, we try to stop God from loving others, accusing them that they left God.
We may judge them saying they are not like us, righteous ones.
We need to be careful so that we may not become like this older son.
Otherwise we may come to church every Sunday but may not think like God.
We may be at the church but not love God and his way of doing things.
I pray that we feel what God the Father feels.
I pray that we welcome the ones who God is welcoming.
I pray that we welcome children.
I pray that we welcome people coming back to God as God is welcoming them back to life.
Now let’s finish this sermon by praying for those who are like this younger brother.
And pray for those who are like this older brother.
Let’s pray that they all may get to know God.
They may be our friends, family, and teachers.
Let’s pray that they may experience God in their life, too.
They may be us.
Let’s pray that we may understand this God.
I am going to give you anther 30 seconds of silence.
You may offer this silent prayer to God.
Here is your 30 seconds of silence.
God, we pray for our family, teachers and friends so that they may know how much you love them.
May you help them to live with you.
May you help them to be fully alive in you.
And help us to live with you and have the same heart like you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.