One of the worst feelings in the world is the feeling of being lost. There’s nothing worse than being lost! I was one of those kids that every-time I went to the store with my mom, especially going to Target, I would get lost from my mom. I would immediately run off to the toy department until I needed to find my mom, then I would go up to the customer service counter at the front of the store, every-time, and I would cry and say, I can’t find my mom. I’m lost! And they would make that announcement over the speaker system: “Would the mother of a crying little blonde-haired boy with a bowl haircut come to the front of the store.”
I never hear those announcements at the store anymore, but they happened every time I went shopping with my mom. I would get lost. Now, we don’t let our kids out of our sight, do we? I’ve even seen parents walking their kids around with leashes!
There’s nothing worse than getting lost in any area of life. Nothing is worse than the feeling of being alone and hitting rock bottom. This happens spiritually when people feel like they’re disconnected from God.
I am talking with more and more people who feel lost because they have pushed out of their churches by COVID. And they are wandering. Right now, it feels like we have lost so much. Maybe you feel like you’ve lost hope, joy, peace, way of life, faith, loses focus, distracted and disconnected from God.
In this story we’re going to be looking at in our brand-new series called Homecoming, we’re going to look at one of the most well-known stories that Jesus ever told, the story of the Prodigal Son. It’s the story of a loving dad who had a rebellious son and a holier-than-thou son. I want us to understand why Jesus told this story.
Why did Jesus tell a story about 2 sons, both disconnected from their father? Both of them were in need of God’s grace, forgiveness & love. If you look at the first verse in Luke chapter 15, it sets the stage.
Luke 15:1 – Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
When Jesus tells this story, He’s at the peak of His popularity. Thousands of people are coming to see and experience changed lives as they encounter Jesus. But in the middle of all this incredible life-change that’s happening, there were these super-spiritual, professional religious leaders who hated what Jesus was doing!
Jesus threatened their religious system and exposed them as hypocrites. They were so triggered by Jesus! So, they’d show up wherever Jesus was and try to turn the people against Him. They were mad because Jesus was associating Himself with sinners & tax collectors. Their accusation against Jesus was that he hung out with people who needed Jesus the most!
So Jesus responded to them by telling them this story that starts in Luke 15:11: Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.
Jesus opens the story with a scandalous statement. The big problem was that you’re supposed to get the inheritance after someone dies, not before! So, for this younger brother to ask his father for his inheritance early was just like saying to his dad, “I wish you were dead! You’re dead to me. I don’t need you. Just give me what I’ve got coming to me!”
Then, the dad does something even crazier. He gives his son the money. Jesus is painting a beautiful picture of what God is like.
The boy leaves and heads far from home to a distant land where he blows all his money on wild living! He wastes all of his money on prostitutes, drugs and drinking, and parties! He is living it up! And he’s got all the friends he wants until the money is gone! He finds himself far from home, broken, with nothing to show for it.
Have you ever found yourself in a place like that? If so, I want to talk with you today about 4 reasons why you should come home to your Father today!
Why do I need to come home?
1. Fill my Hunger.
There’s nothing better than a home-cooked meal. I used to be more of a fast-food guy. But, after you’ve eaten out cheap and fast for a while, you start to crave a home-cooked meal! And no one makes a home-cooked meal better than my wife, Pam! I’m sure for you, you know who it is that makes your favorite home-cooked meal. And guys, here’s a pro-tip, you’d better say it’s your wife. Or your Mom if you’re not married!
My favorite meal that Pam cooks is homemade chicken enchiladas! That’s her specialty, and she’s made these for years! They’re delicious!
Well, here was this son who had hit rock bottom and he was broke, broke, broke (no joke). Then look at what happens:
14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 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.
At the same time that he runs out of money, a famine hits. Isn’t that how life goes? When it rains, it pours. Some of our problems are because of our own doing – he wasted all his money. And some of our problems happen because of things we have no control over – the famine. He’s in such a bad situation that he doesn’t even think about going home, so he has to get a job feeding pigs.
In that culture, a pig is considered unclean. So, this guy is at his lowest point. He was so hungry that the pig food looked good to him. He wanted to eat the pig slop! That’s hungry!
In the story Jesus says in verse 17, “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!
He got to the point where he was so hungry that he knew he needed to go home to be fed.
Are you hungry?
I’m not talking about going and raiding your refrigerator. I’m talking about a deeper soul hunger.
The problem is that whenever we get hungry in our heart and soul, we try to fill it up with anything and everything but God. We’ll shove almost anything in to try to fill that hunger that only God can meet and we’ll end up feeling even worse and more hungry. Why is that?
“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”Philosopher – Blaise Pascal
There is a God-shaped hole in our lives where God belongs. He made you. And He wants to make His home in your heart.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ Matthew 4:4
Jesus said, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6
What happened when the son came home? Just in case you already know the story, I don’t want to spoil anything, but one of the first things the father does is to throw a feast! He killed and grilled the fatted calf!!! So when the son came home to the father, that hunger he was feeling was fed and filled! The second reason you should come home is to:
2. Find your Family
Home is where your family is.
Right now, we are continuing to experience an epidemic of loneliness. The director of the CDC even talked about the rates of suicide to the deaths due to COVID-19. They are seeing a big increase depression because of unemployment and social isolation. The coronavirus pandemic and economic shutdown has dealt a major blow to our mental health. We’re not meant to be disconnected and isolated. So, we have to be intentional to move against the pressure to isolate.
The prodigal son wasn’t just hungry. He was left all alone. Sure, you’re popular when you are rolling deep, but you know who your real friends and family are when you’ve got nothing left. But He remembered His father. And he hoped that somehow his Father would take him back again.
In verse 18, he said, “I will go home to my Father.” It wasn’t just a place, it was Person. It wasn’t just home, it was Dad!!! And in verse 20: 20 “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.
This is the most mind-blowing part of the story for me. Because who knows how many days his dad had been looking down that road, praying, and hoping that just maybe his son would come home. And he’s looking and squinting his eyes, could it be? My son is coming home! And in this culture, it was undignified for an elderly Jewish man to run in public. And he was wearing this long robe that would keep him from running, so he hiked up his robe and he took off running down the road! This was unheard of!! He was filled with love and compassion! He threw His arms around his son. He kissed his son and said, “Welcome Home!!!!”
That’s God! That’s how he sees you! You are His child and He wants to welcome you home!!! Into His forever family!
The Bible describes the church as a family! In Psalm 68:6, we read, “God sets the lonely in families.”
That family is the local church! We are brothers and sisters and we belong together.
Ephesians 2:19 says, Now you are no longer strangers to God and foreigners to heaven, but you are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.
That means safely getting together. That means gathering is a priority for God’s people. In fact, the word for church in the Bible is ekklesia and it literally means an assembly! Now, it’s true, the church is not a building! And church doesn’t just happen on Sunday, but it is the gathering of a local body of believers.
We need to come home to our Father! To our family! To defeat depression!!! Because we need each other. And then third, we need to come home to:
3. Find Forgiveness
This son knew he had turned against his dad! How many of you have ever blown it so bad you’ve had to apologize in a big way? If you’ve ever had to do that you know what this boy was doing when he was walking home. Remember he was in a distant land – he had a long walk. He was rehearsing his apology! He was working out his apology.
18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
I’ve met a lot of people who say, “I like this whole God thing. But before I come to God here’s what I’m going to do. I’ve got to stop doing ‘this’ and start doing ‘this’. I’ve got to get my life together.” That’s the same attitude the son had.
If you’re thinking, “I’m not worthy of God’s forgiveness.” You’re right. You’re not. And neither am I. That’s what blows me away about God.
God is forgiving enough to meet you right where you are.
God loves you enough to accept you the way you are, and He loves you too much to let you stay that way.
God’s forgiveness puts your life on a whole new trajectory.
Do you know what the boy deserved when he came home? He deserved to be disciplined. He deserved to be an outcast. In Mosaic Law, he would even deserve death because he brought shame on his family by what he had done. And what did he get? He got a party.
That’s where the last reason you should come home today starts:
It’s fun to be free and forgiven and be with your family!
22 “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. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 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.
Listen, here’s what I know! Parties are more fun together! I know life is hard right now, but at the Connection Church, we party with a purpose! We are better together. In fact, In Luke 15:7, in this same chapter, Jesus says,
In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! Luke 15:7
Celebration happens when you get connected with Jesus! It changes everything. Listen, I know what we’re facing right now, I understand hurt and confusion. But I’m talking about a joy that goes deeper than your hurt. This happens because Jesus gave His life for you!
Luke 15:32 closes the story like this: 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!’”
And when you move from being far from home to coming home, from death to life, from being lost to being found, that is a happy day!
Are you ready to come home?
No matter how far away you’ve run you can still come home! Your Father is waiting and watching for you right now! Come home to your Father!
Questions to Consider
- How ready were you emotionally and spiritually when you left your parents’ home?
- Talk about a time that you’ve felt homesick. How did you get through that season?
- From your perspective, why do you think the younger son wanted to leave home? Do you think he was ready for this move?
- If you had been the father, would you have given the son his inheritance when he asked for it? Why or why not?
- In Luke 15:14, the son ran out of money (his choice) at the same time that a famine hit (out of his control). How is that like some of the problems we are now facing with a pandemic that is out of our control and the choices you made at the beginning of the year? How did those choices set you up for success or struggle through this season?
- What period of time in your life do you see as your “distant country” time spent far from home?
- In what area of life right now do you feel a little lost? (Financially, Relationally, Career, Education, Spiritually, other) Why do you think you’re feeling this way?
Live It Out. Commit to a step and live it out this week.
- What will it take to get you to “the party”? When is the last time you had a “wild party” with Jesus?
- Have you made the commitment to connect with your forever family at a local church?