11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me m the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
Observations: This younger son was a sinner. He squandered everything in reckless living. He was as low as he could go - even willing to eat the pigs' food. Do you know any sinners? Has God put sinners into your life? How low did they go? How should you react to them? When they realize the world does not satisfy, and no one will give them anything, what will you do?
17 “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! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
Observations: He came to himself. That was a work of grace. When a sinner comes to himself and realizes the mess he is in, know that God is working. He humbled himself, willing to be treated as one of the hired servants. The father, the one who was sinned against, overlooked the sin and welcomed the sinning son. Do you know anyone who has "come to himself" and realized that his life is a mess? Do you recognize that God is working? Do you see humility? Have you noticed the reaction of the one who has been sinned against the most? Can you see the grace of God?
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 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 was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘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. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
Observations: The older son was angry. He refused to go into the celebration. He was offended. Instead of rejoicing with his father, the one who was sinned against the most, he was angry and jealous. He turned it around to himself. How have you reacted when you've seen rejoicing over a sinner repenting? Have you joined in the celebration, or have you refused to fellowship?
Jesus came to save sinners. He ate with sinners. He called sinners, not the righteous, to repent.
He told us to forgive seventy times seven.
He knows the heart. We do not.
If God can save John Newton, who squandered his life in the most vile and malicious deeds, He is able to save to the uttermost the worst of sinners among us.
If God can save John Bunyan, who wrote in his testimony (Chief of Sinners) that he tried it all - he tried a sinful life, he tried a "godly" life - but that none of it mattered until his blind eyes were opened, then he can save the worst of sinners among us.
What will you do? Will you forgive, yet again, and pray? Or will you refuse to celebrate with the one who was sinned against the most?
Redeemed, Restored, Forgiven - a new song by Matthew Smith. Listen to it!