Waynedale United Methodist Church
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June 14, 2015 Sermon

“A Father’s Heart”
Luke 15:11 – 32

Ted Jansen  June 14, 2015  Waynedale UMC 

 

1.)        Jesus is telling stories, parables, to “sinners” and tax collectors, according to Luke 15:1, and the religious leaders were complaining.  They were irritated that Jesus was hanging around with sinners, this was bad to do. 

Jesus begins his story of two sons who are very different.  The one son could be described as being very faithful, loyal and obedient.  He did what was expected and stayed true to what he thought were his father’s expectations.  The other son could be described as unfaithful, rebellious, doing the unexpected and disregarded the father’s expectations. 

            It would have been interesting seeing how the two different audiences, the religious and the sinners, would have identified with the two different sons. 

            The faithful son remains home, works, doesn’t complain publicly and obeys his father.  He sounds like a good son.    

The unfaithful son leaves home (which causes more work for others), the unfaithful son asks for, receives and spends his father inheritance money (this was uncalled for, and was to be used to help his father with his living expenses when the father could not earn a living.  Also, taking the inheritance and spending it meant that others would have to work more.), the unfaithful son used the money for prostitutes and wild living (this wild living was not how his father would have spent the money, it was contrary to the father’s moral values.), and when the unfaithful son had no money he fed pigs and wanted to eat the pig’s food himself (pigs were considered unclean to the Jews.)    

 

2.)        At this point in the story you see a huge contrast and you might think the story is to be focused on the sons, but that is not the case.  Jesus wants us to understand that this story is about “A Father’s Heart.”  We see the father’s heart revealed in Luke 15:20- 24. 

            “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 around him and kissed him. 

            The son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son. 

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.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it.  Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.  So they began to celebrate.”

 

3.)        I want to illustrate the action of the father by drawing a heart and the word of action that show us what is inside the father.     (Draw heart on board)

            *The Father is looking for his unfaithful son  (This means that the Father is not working, but watching.  It is more important to watch than work in this situation.)

            *The Father is running to his unfaithful son.  (Running for a father was undignified.  It was more important to get there fast than to keep a sense of dignity.)  *The Father is embracing and kissing his unfaithful son.  (The action of affection even though the son’s clothes smell and were soiled with hog would have been repulsive.  It was more important to embrace than to keep a distance with a tradition.)

            *The Father is clothing his unfaithful son. (The father tells the servants to bring the best robe and put a ring on his finger. 

*The Father is celebrating his unfaithful son’s return.  (The father has the fattened calf killed and plans made for a party.  These actions defy logic but reveal the heart of the father.  It was more important to celebrate than save resources.)

 

4.)        One phrase from this story stuck to me.  It is the father expressing the words, “Bring the best robe and put it on him.”  (Luke 15:22)  These words reveal the essence of the father’s heart. 

As we reflect on these words may we consider our Heavenly Father, our earthly father, a father figure or our role as a father.  “Bring the best robe and put it on him!”    

 

5.)        The robe is a symbol of God’s unconditional love.  Let us consider what a “conditional” gift might have looked like. 

            *The father could have insisted that his son go home, take a shower, get cleaned up and put on some deodorant before the best robe was placed on him.  No, the father wanted the best robe placed on his unfaithful son who smelled like pigs and whose eyes were darkened and whose soul and heart were filled with grief, guilt and all sorts of emotions.   The father put the best robe on his son as he was.  There was no clean up needed. 

*Do you see the Father’s heart?  Do you see the heart of God who tells you that we don’t need to get cleaned up?  Our God is glad when we come back in the direction of our Heavenly Father.  That is all we need to do, turn our heart towards home and take the first step.  The Father comes to us as we are and insists that the best robe is put on us.

 

6.)        Sometimes we put a robe on others.  But the robe we put on is not the best robe, no it is a burdened robe.     

            *The father could have put on the robe of anger, of judgment, of complaint, of harshness, of criticism.  The Father had every right to ask his son where the money was, or what he had been doing, or to tell the son how disgraceful he was to himself, his father, his family, his heritage by his actions.  The father could have lectured him for hours.  But the father did not put the robe of guilt on his son. 

            We might be tempted to put a robe on others that is not the best.  Let us consider a robe, a father and a son from the Old Testament.     

 

7.)        Joseph was a man in the Old Testament who wore a special robe that was given to him by his father.  Genesis 37:3 (NIV) says, “Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his others sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him.” 

This was a fancy robe, an extravagant robe, an exquisite robe that surrounded Joseph with a reminder of his father’s love.  Joseph could feel and see the heart of his father as he felt and saw.  I can hear Joseph say to himself, “Wow, I am loved!”  Joseph’s father had a great love for Joseph and wanted a robe to express that to him.     

 

8.)        Listen to Isaiah 61:10 (The Message.)  “I will sing for joy in God, explode in praise from deep in my soul!  He dressed me up in a suit of salvation, he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo and a bride a jeweled tiara.” 

            We read in this passage about a robe of righteousness and a suit of salvation that God places on us.  Salvation and righteousness are gifts from God to express His wonderful love for us.  These are not things we earn, they are given to us. 

 

9.)        I want all of you to take a look at your shirt, jacket, your outfit this morning?  Where did it come from?  Does it have any special meaning to you?  Men, what about you, does your outer clothing have any meaning to you?    

I want you to look at the “robe” that your father (or a father figure) put on you.  (I am not talking about a physical robe, but the life your father surrounded you with. 

What does that robe look like?  Is it a robe that your father told you you had to get cleaned up first to wear it, is it a robe of criticism, anger, judgment, harshness, guilt? Is it a robe that brings joy as you are comforted by love and grace?  

            The great news of God’s love is that whatever robe your father, or your father figure, put on you the robe from your Heavenly Father is the very best robe.  The Lord wants you to wear it.   

 

10.)      Cathy Wright reflects on the “robe” her father placed on her as she writes these words in a Houston, Texas newspaper.

This story is about my dad, Ray Rothrock. He's not a president or working to solve world peace. What he is, though, is a man who has spent his lifetime dedicated to supporting, loving and caring for his family. I always thought all men did this. I was wrong. My dad has always been honest, hard-working and proud. Proud, I suppose, for finally making it through raising not one, two, three, four, five, but six daughters and a son.

            He has always stood by us in our good times and bad, always loving and forgiving. He did this for many years with one bathroom -- a bathroom filled with the odor of perfumes, hairsprays, nail polishes, etc. He never once complained. Friday and Saturday nights looked like the Oscars. The circle drive filled with cars picking up and dropping off dates. He would greet everyone at the door and wait patiently for each of us to return home safely. He gave each of us away when we married, some more than once. When we were young he endured dress-up with six daughters -- from makeup to pink foam-rollers, he actually looked pretty cute.

            He attended every function from cheerleading to drill team and agricultural events, the fairs and all other interests. He worked all week and was never too tired to play sports with the family. We took vacations each year, but he always stressed the importance of education, sending to college any of us who chose to go.

            All of us share one special dad, and on your day we want you to know you are loved and appreciated more than you will ever know.   We love you, Dad. 

 

11.)      A special word to men, fathers, and grandfathers.  Do your best to put the best robe on your children, your grandchildren, the children of this congregation and community.  We put a robe on as we love others.   Consider the Five Love Languages that Dr. Gary Chapman taught about. 

            A father puts the best robe on when he gives his time to children. 

            A father puts on the best robe when he speaks words of blessing to children.

            A father puts on the best robe when he buys gifts for children.

            A father puts on the best robe when he serves children in a need. 

            A father puts on the best robe when he shows physical affection to children.