Jump Start # 3012
Luke 15:24 “for this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ And they began to be merry.”
On Fridays this month, our Heaven Bound podcast is taking a look at the prodigal son. I love this story. If given just one text to preach the rest of my life, this would be my choice. Everything is right here. The lost boy– and the tug of sin upon our hearts. A loving and gracious God who is willing to forgive. A judgmental older brother, jealous, stubborn and in many ways, just as lost. Sin, salvation, hopelessness, hope, grace, love, attitudes, fellowship—it’s all here.
This has been called the “gem of all the parables.” The story is so vivid and true, we can put names to it. We can see ourselves in it. And, each time we return to this treasure, there is yet something we’ve never seen before.
Our verse today are the words of the happy father. I’m not sure who he spoke this to, other than just uttering the feelings of his heart. The elder brother was out in the fields. The servants were gone to get the robe, sandals and ring. He may have been expressing these words to Heaven. So happy. Prayers answered. A story that will have a happy ending.
And, in these powerful and expressive words of the father we find two sets of contrasts. They show us what sin does and what salvation does.
First, the son was dead. Not physically, we know that. He walked home. But spiritually, he was dead. The wages of sin is death. Dead to God. Dead to hope. Dead to eternal life in Heaven. And, this expression reveals to us that there is always a cost and a consequence to sin. The prodigal left home with a pocket full of money. He lived recklessly. He lived with no regard to what was happening to his conscience and his soul. I imagine he had a blast. Eat, drink and be merry sure appeals to many people. But, it comes with a cost. It killed his soul. He was dead. And, had he died physically, he would have been separated from his eternal God forever. There is a cost that comes with sin. There is always a cost. Once the fleeting thrills of sin passed, the prodigal was alone, hopeless and miserable.
Satan blinds all of our eyes to the cost and the consequences of sin. Like the pied piper, temptation lures us in, blind to what it will cost us and what damage it will do to our souls. Like Satan in the garden with Eve, once the temptation has gotten hold of us, he leaves. Where is Satan after Adam and Eve sinned? It was God who came and cleaned up the mess that was left. It was God who paved a way for us to come back to Him. Not Satan.
Second, the son was lost. These days it’s hard for a person to get lost. Our phones help us. Our phones tell us where to go. However, our phones won’t scream at us to turn around when it comes to temptation. Lost. Not knowing where he was at. Not knowing where he was going. Not knowing what was happening to him. What a turn around of ideas here. The prodigal left the house thinking that he knew where he was going. He didn’t. He got lost. He left with plans. The plans were bogus, false and flawed.
The sad thing about our culture today is that most never realize that they are both dead and lost. They are still dancing with the devil, having a great time. Their eyes are closed and they don’t know the way home.
Third, salvation is pictured as “coming to life.” It’s the image of a resurrection. Poor Jairus, looking down at the lifeless body of his young daughter. She was dead. Jesus came. Taking her hand, the Lord told her to get up. Her eyes opened. Life ran through her body. Her still organs started pumping, air filled her lungs, color returned to her cheeks, and she got up. She came back to life. Salvation puts hope before us. Salvation gives us a purpose and a reason. Salvation changes us. It’s not a matter of adding “church” to your busy life. You now have life. You now have joy, love and a desire to walk with the Lord. Your character changes. Your choices change. Often, your habits and even your friends change. You have a fellowship with those who are Heaven bound. And, looking back, what you once thought was fun, really wasn’t. It was harmful, selfish, sinful and a waste. How much money was wasted? How much opportunity was lost? How much goodness was ignored?
Fourth, salvation is being found. The opposite of lost is found. A lost sheep was found. A lost coin was found. And, now, a lost son has been found. He was now where he belonged. He would find at home what was truly missing in his life. And, once found, he would never want to wander again.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…I once was lost, but now I’m found. This is our story. There was a time when we were dead. There was a time when we were lost. We may not have realized it for a while, but once we did, what horror sunk into our hearts. But now we have life. We have been found. We rejoice because God loves us. God gave us a second chance.
When these contrasts echo through our hearts, we won’t ever ask, “Do we have to go to worship?” God is so good. He is so good to each of us. Dead, now alive. Lost, now found.
What joy we have in the Lord.