Joy in the Father's House

Bible Book: Luke  15
Subject: Love of God; Grace; Joy
Introduction

George W. Truett, who pastored the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas for almost 50 years, never liked calling the place of worship a sanctuary. He felt that it sounded too much like a mortuary, a place of death. He rather liked to call it the Meeting House. He chose that phrase because he said it was the place where Holy God met with unholy man. Indeed, that is what a church worship center is all about.

We see this in the Bible very clearly in the story of the Prodigal Son. In this story Jesus told of a man with two sons. One of them asked for his inheritance and, once he received it, left the old home place to go to a faraway place. He wanted to be free of the restraint of the Father. He longed to try his wings. He was to fly away from the hearth and home he has known so long. Once he left home he indulged in great sin.

Thinking of this boy's sin reminds me of the dream I had the other night. I dreamed I went to heaven. Once there I noticed that there were many clocks on the wall. Some were moving quickly and others were barely moving. I asked an angel why some of the clocks were moving more quickly than others. He shared with me that each clock was for a Christian on earth. Every time that Christian sinned, the clock moved. I looked around and I didn’t see a clock for (use anyone here). I asked why his clock was not among the others. The angel said that some of the saints were using it for a fan!

So this boy was a great sinner. He spent his money and ended up in poverty. He is pictured as sinking to the lowly job of feeding and looking after swine on a pig farm. In fact, he is so poor and hungry that the pods the pigs were eating began to look appetizing to him.

One day the poor fellow "comes to himself." He turns from the insanity of his way and remembers his Father's house. He decided to go home and confess his sin and ask his Father to make him a hired hand on the family ranch. That is where we pick up the story in Scripture.

What a great story. Here we see that God is not a spoil-sport. He is no fuddy-duddy. He is not some angry bearded man waiting to pounce on poor sinners. Rather, Jesus told us that when the boy came home in rags, the Father ran out to meet Him. Once he had confessed his sin, the prodigal was part of a great, happy, festive celebration. He learned that it is true that God is willing to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can think or ask. The boy asked to be a mere farm hand. The Father refused his offer. He gave rather treated the repentant boy as a son. He created a party for the boy!

I want us to look at the joyful, festive celebration that took place when the boy came home. This is the very point that Jesus was seeking to impress upon the Pharisees and teachers of the law. They thought service for God made one right with God. To disobey was to be disinherited. Three things stand out in this passage that speak of the JOY IN THE FATHER'S HOUSE.

I. THE GRACE IN THIS CELEBRATION

A. The Father Identified with the Sinful Boy

What a wonder it is - God identifying Himself the sinful young man. He ran to the boy and called him, "Son." The minute any one of us turns from our sin and places our faith in Christ, God identified with us. He makes us part of His family.

This is what Jesus was trying to show the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. They criticized Jesus for welcoming sinners and outcasts. Jesus sought to show them that this was His purpose in coming to the earth. He came to seek and to save that which was lost.

A boy was in court for his day of sentencing. The judge asked the young man to stand. Just then an old man in the gallery stood as well. It was the father of the wayward boy. He stood with tears in his eyes. He was identifying himself with the son who had gone astray.

Jesus came to take my place at Calvary. He identified with me, so that I might be identified with the Father. Hallelujah, What A Savior.

B. The Father Initiated the Celebration for the Sinful Boy

The Father called for a party. He hired a band, killed a fattened calf, and invited guests. This is a picture of how God feels about one person turning from sin. Heaven breaks out in song.

Isn't it amazing? God throws a party for rebels like us! This is a miracle of God's grace. It is not something the boy deserved. Neither do we deserve to have God make a fuss over us. But that is what He does.

C. The Father is Involved in the Celebration for the Sinful Boy

The Father is pictured as being in the midst of the celebration. He is not far off somewhere alone.

But there is a brother in this story. He has been working in the field for the father all day long. When the elder brother comes in from the field, the Father goes out from the party to invite brother inside. God rejoices over one sinner who repents. Zephaniah 3:17 states that God Himself sings of the returning sinner. Wouldn’t you like to hear God’s voice in song? Perhaps we will hear that in heaven.

This is a story about the grace of God. We do not deserve what He has given. It is all the result of His goodness and love. God is not waiting for us to get better before He will receive us, because we cannot cleanse ourselves. He alone can cleanse us and make us His own.

II. THE GIFTS AT THE CELEBRATION

A. The Robe - The Father's Testimony

The boy came home wearing rags. God gave him a robe! He had no testimony, but God gave Him His testimony. He covered the boy with His love.

B. The Ring - The Father's Title

The signet ring had the family name upon it. It carried the family authority. This young man traded what he wanted for the Father's wealth. (Phil 4:19) Most people who come to the Lord say with wonder, “Why did I wait so long?”

C. The Shoes - The Father's Tenderness

Instead of stripes, the Father gave him shoes for his sore, bleeding feet. Only slaves were barefooted. God knows where you are hurting and He cares! There is a “balm in Gilead.”

D. The Calf - The Father's Table

The fattened calf was set aside only for the most important guests or family celebrations. God did not have to find a lean calf and fatten it for the boy – the fattened calf was ready and waiting. The Father always has a fattened calf ready. Whenever you and I are brought to the point of celebration He is ready!

J. Wilbur Chapman tells of traveling by train out west. They came to the Grand Canyon. He was spell bound by the beauty and wonder of it. A woman sat reading a book. He asked why she was reading a book instead of looking at the incredible scene. She said that she had been on the trip 13 times and it had lost its beauty to her. O, God deliver us from losing our sensitivity to the beauty of the Lord and His salvation.

A preacher friend of mine told me he saw a sign in a restaurant that said, "T-bone Steak, $2.50.” He was excited. He went in and sat down and then he saw the fine print. It said, "T-bone $2.50. With Meat $11.95." God never throws us meatless bones!

The home the son hated, he now loved. He was home. He was at home, before his rebellion, he had use of the bedroom because that is where they found the robe. He had use of the backroom, for that is where they found the shoes. He had use of the business room, for that is where they found the ring. He had use of the banquet room, for that is where they fed the calf.

III. THE GLADNESS IN THE CELEBRATION

What created such gladness and joy?

A. There is Gladness in Living Things

When he left home in the beginning, he was dead to the Atmosphere of the home. He was dead to the Activity of the home. He was dead to the Advantages of the home. When he came home, He was alive to the Father and dead to the world!

Enliven us, O God! Bring life today. Turn this day into a true heavenward celebration.

B. There is Gladness in Located Things

When he was away from the Father, he was lost from the Father's Blessings and from the Father's Bosom. When he came home, he found what he was looking for all the time. There is joy in located things that have been lost.

C. There is Gladness in Liberated Things

Like hostages home from war.

Like sick from an illness.

The celebration got loud - it was a celebration!

Conclusion

Have you been away from the Father? Come home. You will find what you have been looking for.

Are you lost in sin? Come to the Lord. He is calling you. He is looking for you. He has a fattened calf and a celebration planned for you.

Has your service to God become like that of the elder brother? Do you serve God without joy? Come, now! Join he celebration. Get your nose out of the book, the work, and look at Grand Canyon of God’s love and grace.