BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG CITY
I want us to look at one of the greatest acts of grace that anyone could show someone. I also want us to look at a story that has spoken to my heart on many occasions as a reminder of God’s love for me. It’s a story that displays the mercy of God when we make mistakes. It’s a story of the natural state of man…lost and without Christ. It’s a story that represents all that God is and the complete dependence we have to be accepted into His family. It’s a story about each and every one of here this morning, those who are saved and those who are still wandering the streets trying to fulfill self. Ask yourself this question! Why does the world get so fascinated by the idea of wanting to live in the big city. Take for example Toronto! With all its shopping, restaurants and everything a person needs just outside their door almost fascinates and draws people to herself. The city is so convenient and makes things easier to get when everything is so close and accessible. But! The city also has something else that is too convenient and accessible. The city is filled and riddled with………
- Fashion and covetousness
- Power struggles
- High Crime rates
- To many choices
- And dreamers with high hopes and big plans that will never come to fruition.
THE OLD TESTAMENT SPOKE OF THESE KIND OF CITIES……….In Jeremiah 51:7 we read “Babylon was a golden cup ( outwardly beautiful but inwardly the cup is full of poison) in the LORD's hand that made all the earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; Therefore the nations are deranged (the nations are mad or foolish).” Blinded by their own ignorance and motivations of a ME CENTERED LIFE. PAUL SPOKE ABOUT THE KIND OF PEOPLE WHO LIVE THERE! In Rom 3:10-18 we read “As it is written: "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS; THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS AFTER GOD. THEY HAVE ALL TURNED ASIDE; THEY HAVE TOGETHER BECOME UNPROFITABLE; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, NO, NOT ONE." "THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN TOMB; WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY HAVE PRACTICED DECEIT"; "THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS"; "WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS." "THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD; DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR WAYS; AND THE WAY OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN." "THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES." The city is an easy place for people to find out how low they can really become....because it’s easy to get lost in the city under the bright lights and big building! Jesus spoke a parable about a young man....a father and older brother....it’s a story that speaks volumes to my heart because I can relate to the young person in this story. I grew up in a small town, with very little to do!! I used to think about going into the city and doing what I wanted to do and not have to worry about anyone! THIS IS A STORY DIVIDES ITSELF INTO 3 PARTS
1ST PART............A story about a young man who lived for self, who wanted what was coming to him, who was very impatient and not content with his present situation.
A story about a man who said in his heart “I must have it now”. Does this sound a bit like you and me sometimes? I know it does me sometimes.
2ND PART.............A story about a father who loved his son dearly and had a heart of forgiveness and a joy that only can come from God.
3RD PART..............A story about an older son who did everything to gain favour with the father and had no true relationship with him or anyone else for that matters.This is a story about God’s mercy and grace to any lost sinner. This is a story about you! It’s a story about me! It’s a story about the true Gospel that saves to the uttermost!
1ST PART...............THE YOUNG MAN (V11-V16)
We see three things this young man does that each and every one of has done at some point in time in life or at least wanted to! A life of living for self! Getting what is mine....Whether it’s freedom from living under your parent’s roof or a life that is waiting for retirement! Buying into the American dream of being independent and free to do whatever you want. I want what’s coming to me!! Blatant (open) sin without any regards for anyone else. HE WAS ONLY THINKING OF HIMSELF........Look at (v12) “give what is mine” Basically he was saying “I want what you were going to give to me when for when you die” But he isn't dead yet! “So I wish you were dead” HE IS ONLY THINKING OF HOW HE IS GOING TO SATISFIES HIS CRAVINGS AND PASSIONS...........Look at (v13) “prodigal living” Jesus called his life...... “the prodigal living” The Greek word for “prodigal” means dissolute, it conveys the idea of an utterly immoral lifestyle. HE PRODIGAL LIVING ENDS WITH HUNGER AND DISAPPOINTMENT......... Look at (v14) “there arose a severe (powerful, mighty) famine” The people listening would have understood what it meant to go through a severe time of no food! God allowed many famines to come upon the land. For example 2 Kings 6:25-29 where the women made a pack, or a promise to cook their babies for food. They actually ate one the babies......... until the mother of the other child wasn’t hungry anymore............and she refused to give up her child (2 Kings 6:29) A severe famine makes people do some strange and unusual things! You become desperate and utterly helpless…because you have nothing or anything to live for. William Manchester writes about the famine that hit Europe in the Medieval Era “The years of hunger were terrible. The peasants might be forced to sell all they owned....In the hardest times they devoured bark, roots, grass, and even white clay. Cannibalism was not unknown. Strangers and travelers were waylaid and killed to be eaten, and there tales of gallows being torn down...as many twenty bodies would hang from a single scafford.....by men frantic to eat warm flesh raw.” In the mid-nineteenth century Ireland.......a million people more than 10 percent of Ireland’s population at the time died of starvation over a three year period.....this was called the “Potato Famine” More recently in the Ukraine in 1930s, when multiple millions died of hunger.....that famine believed to have been deliberately caused by Stalin as an act of genocide. This young man was hungry and helpless because he spent it all on pleasures
“Thinking that the high life was the good life”
But he finally realized that was a lie from the pits of Hell. And sadly this is the same lie the world is trying you to entice you and your family with each and every day. Look at (v16) “my father’s help live better than me” He goes on to say “I’m hungry and empty but my father’s servants are doing better than me” Slavery is much better than this according to the son who has hit rock bottom. This is how I felt about my life when I was in my 20’s! Lost and going all direction which in reality only leads me around in circles! This is what a person without Christ looks like........lost and utterly helpless......broken and penniless (not physically, but spiritually) REMEMBER WHAT JESUS SAID in Matt 9:12-13 “When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I DESIRE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." This was a person who was broken.......he thought he could find love or fulfillment by finding it from something else....like so many people today! Pleasure consumed......Look at (v14) “he spent in all” He was hungry! He had no food...........no money.............. Or a job! This is what it took! For this young man to see that he was utter broken......sick......poor.........Look at (v17-v19) This is what happens to a sinner who needs a Saviour.....a Physician in 2 Peter 3:9 we read “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
2ND PART...........................THE FATHER (V20-V24)
We see a loving father “full of compassion”.........Look at (v20) We see a loving father who doesn’t wait, but he runs to rescue as if you were a person was drowning in the water.....he comes with urgency and joy! He couldn’t contain his affection towards his lost son. This is a wonderful picture of our God who loves lost sinners! Micah 7:18-19 “Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea.” God is a just God......a God who loves.....delights in mercy! That’s the Gospel. AS PAUL WROTE! In Rom 5:8-11 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” That’s the Gospel and His great salvation plan for sinners! The Gospel reconciles us back to that relationship mankind once had back in the garden. When the Lord our God walked with Adam in the coolness of the day......Look at Jesus says in (v22-v24) Robe......reserved for only a special occasion. Specially reserved for a master’s child..........(today’s terms the equivalent of a tuxedo).....this is like the robe of righteousness that we get through Jesus Christ.......salvation is a special occasion to any believer! Ring.......a signet ring that had the families crest or seal, so when the ring was pressed into melted wax on a formal document.......a symbol of authority and honor........seal of approval. Sandals........these were not usually worn by slaves. Only the masters and their children wore footwear......and therefore signified his full restoration to sonship. The Forgiveness of sins! Fattened calf.......reserved for only special occasions.....a feast for a great celebration. Salvation is a wonderful celebration for the sinner and the Heaven’s.....Look at (v10.....v24) That’s salvation....that’s the Gospel! What’s even more amazing is, the prodigal son did nothing to earn or work for those items...they were freely given by the father who loves lost sinners.......you and me! Remeber what Paul said in Eph 2:8-10 “It’s by grace you are saved....not of works...that any man should boast” But it’s interesting to see how Jesus finishes off his story...he finishes by talking about the older brother! Equally as lost as the younger son, but doesn’t realize it! We are going to see something that would make His listeners disgusted or uneasy (in this case the Scribes and Pharisee’s) ...............going back to (v2) and (v14 of chapter 16). Sadly this isn’t new teachings of Jesus.........this goes back the Sermon on the Mount and many other occasions, when he spoke to the multitudes. EVEN THE PROPHETS OF OLD AND THE APOSTLES WARNED US AGAINST THESE TYPES OF PEOPLE!
- The False worshippers
- The Ravenous wolves
- The Empty confessions
- The Empty tombs
- The Deceiving hearts
- The Religious
3RD PART........................................THE OLDER SON (V25-V32)
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS WE SEE ABOUT THIS OLDER BROTHER?
- Self centeredness
- Bitterness and resentment.........
- Self righteousness........
- Hatred towards another person
- Pride and arrogance
- The closet sinner...outwardly good inwardly rotten to the core (the Pharisee’s)
Let me ask you something! Why didn’t the father rush to tell his older son that his brother has come home? Answer: He has no real relationship with the father otherwise he wouldn’t have asked the servant the question in (v26). The same thing the Pharisee’s had with the true Living God of the Bible.....no true genuine relationship as Abraham, Moses, David and the prophets of old did. The father knew he had no real relationship with his older son...he knew his secret heart, otherwise the older son would has stood up and said something to the younger brother for being so disrespectful to their father, when he asked for his inheritance. As the oldest...the first born! Should have....No! Instead he did what any self righteous person does! .......Woe always me. The older son was angry (v28-v29).........I’ve been serving.....slaving for you for so many years” It’s interesting to see the father didn’t scold him for his behaviour but pleads with him in (v28). The older brother is so disgusted he doesn’t even acknowledge his little brother as a brother! (v30) “.........this son of yours...” He also says to the father how can we rejoice when he as used inheritance for “prostitutes and wicked living” look at (v30). BUT I LOVE HOW THE FATHER RESPONDS TO HIS WICKED AND SLANDEROUS SPEEECH! Don’t worry you to will get what’s yours in this meaning his inheritance. Which in reality the older son would get more! He is the oldest...and his birth right entitles him to 2 thirds over his younger brother who would have been given 1 third.....Deut 21:17 “But he shall acknowledge the son of the unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.”
BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS.....it’s what the father said after this! Look at (v32) this verse literally means “it was necessary to celebrate” WHY? He was dead and now is alive......he was blind.....but now he see’s.
THAT’S THE GOSPEL THAT SAVES TO THE UTTERMOST! That’s the God I serve the One who ran to my rescue and saved me from myself! I thought the world was what I wanted!!.....but in reality it only left me empty and lost like both of the brother’s in this parable.....William MacDonald said “the world cries out for all that we have and we are....our time, our evenings, our weekends, the time that we should be giving to the Lord.” The Bible says “were your heart is.....there your heart will be also.” One loving and forgiving father who desires that nobody perishes. Two lost sons...but only one is found! Which one are you of the sons are you this morning? Because as Jesus said “there is more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance”