Barry Rodriguez

Aug 30, 2020

Read Luke 15.


The point is, every family has distinctives, including the family of God.


In October we are doing a whole BYOB sermon series on parables. Bring Your Own Bible. We'll talk about how to read them - how to understand them. It's going to be great!

Luke 15:11-16
To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: "A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, "I want my share of your estate now before you die.' So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
"A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

This younger son is working in a spiritually unclean environment that is completely cutting him off from his own people.

Why was this young man alone?
Wasted his money (v.13)
Famine in the land (v.14)
No one gave him anything (v.16)

There are a lot of reasons we find ourselves alone, far from home, in the metaphorical pig pen.


Luke 15:17-24
"When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, "At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, "Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.:'
"So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.'
"But his father said to the servants, "Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.' So the party began.

In his mind, this isolated young man has lost the right to be considered the son of his father. And yet, what happens? The moment his father sees him, he runs to embrace him.

Dignity - When he sees his son he is "filled with love and compassion.: He doesn't see a shameful loser; he sees his son.
Proximity - He runs to his son. He embraces him. Despite the fact that he was probably filthy working in a pig pen and walking dusty roads for weeks, the father gets close.
Hospitality - He throws the son a feast. The fattened calf is an expensive luxury for special occasions, and yet he welcomes him in.
Even Unity - When this son left home he implied his father was better off dead. And yet look what his father calls him in verse 24: "This son of mine.: The divisions the son created fall away in the father's love.
The father heals his son's isolation in every possible way. Why? Because his son is family.

The distinctive of God's family: grace.

No matter who you are or what you've done, you belong.


Luke 15:25-32
"Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, and he asked one of the servants what was going on. "Your brother is back,' he was told, "and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.'
"The older brother was angry and wouldn't go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, "All these years I've slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!'
"His father said to him, "Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!':

The son wasn't necessarily being immoral. He was just being bad with his money. If that's true, then the older brother's accusation about prostitutes is just slander.

The younger son, isolated and alone, is given dignity and hospitality by his father. His father chooses proximity and unity with him, despite his past choices. That is the distinctiveness of this family. The father's love and grace defines this family's identity. But this older brother wants nothing to do with it.

If this is a family defined by love and grace, than in this moment the older brother has become a prodigal son as well.

Until we are willing to set aside our indignation, to give up our "right to be right,: until we experience the unity Maron talked about two weeks ago, we cannot become the irresistible movement of love that can heal our isolated world.


Dignity, hospitality, unity, proximity, and now family. These concepts are both a call to action for the church and a call to trust for those of us who are isolated ourselves.

Take a moment to listen to the Holy Spirit and answer these questions:

  • In what way are you like the younger son? How have you left your father's house? How are you isolated?

  • Now imagine you are returning home and your father God wraps you into his arms and holds you close and speaks into your ear. What does he want you to hear?

  • In what way are you like the older son? Who have you excluded from the family of grace?

  • Now imagine the father is beckoning you to come to the celebration. What would it take for you to join the party?

  • Finally, in what way are you like the father? What isolated person in your life is coming up the road?

  • Now imagine you run to them. You embrace them. What does it look like for you to bring them home?