Messiah Lutheran Church
Trinity 3 (June 28, 2009)
Rev. Todd Peperkorn
Received in part with thanks from Dr. Bo Giertz
For an audio MP3 of this sermon, CLICK HERE
TITLE: “A Man Had Two Sons…”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for this morning is Jesus’ parable of the two sons from St. Luke chapter fifteen.
It is easy to forget in this parable that the man had two sons. Both sons were created and loved by God. One son was lost but returned, he repented and came back. The other son stayed home and yet was still lost.
The parable tells the story of how you become lost. The usual way is to demand your piece of the pie so that you can do what you want – whether we’re talking about your body, money, healthy, youth or passion. We live to satisfy these desires. And we are unhappy and unfulfilled if we think that we aren’t getting our fair portion of what is owed to us. So you get what’s coming to you, you take what you believe you are owed. You are an embarrassment to everyone around you for your selfishness and greedy, but you can’t see it. In your mind, you are being very fair. Fair is a great word when you think you have been treated poorly. It’s not so great a word when it means sacrificing for the sake of the weak or for anyone else.
Frankly, the sooner you get this out of your system the better off you will be. Eventually, you will remember how poor and miserable you really are. Like the first lost son in our text, you will “come to your senses” and see that you abandoned the Father who loves you more than anything on earth. The reason you remember him, of course, is that He has always remembered you. You have always been on His mind and in His heart. He has longed for you every day or your strange, sad journey.
That’s how the way home begins. You regret your foolishness. You open your eyes and see the nakedness of your actions. You have caused Him great sorrow for your selfishness. You think to yourself, well, something is better than nothing. I guess we’re still family, even though I have been cruel and thoughtless. Maybe there is something left for me after all.
So you go home. And when you get home, what a surprise is in store for you! He’s been waiting all along. You are greeted with joy as the long lost son. There is a feast, and great rejoicing in God’s house. He exchanges your rags for riches, the finest of clothes. That’s Christ’s righteousness, of course. Christ gives you His righteousness, and takes your sins into Himself forever. It is a great story. It is beautiful. We all love this story.
Then, there is the other son. He’s just as lost as the first son, but in a very different way. He’s always been home. He always behaves Himself. He always does His duty. He is a slave to duty in fact. But the chink in His armor, his one glaring fault, comes out when the prodigal son is drawn home. He has always done his duty, but he has never loved his father or his brother. He’s been in it for himself all along, watching his behavior, waiting for the big payoff at the end. This son bides his time, waits for the right moment when everything will be his. In all honesty, he is as selfish and thoughtless and cruel as the other son, but he just covers his tracts better. In his mind, because of his good behavior and his careful planning, he will get a higher rank in God’s house. I guess we would call him a moralist. He is probably more lost than the first son, because his way is much harder. He cannot see his brokenness, the pain and suffering his self-righteousness he causes himself and others. His pride will not let him see how lost he really is.
Each one of you, in one way or another, fit into the pattern of one of these sons. Maybe you have blown it all off at one shot. Maybe you have carefully planned. But one way or another, you have not loved the Father as you ought. You have not put your neighbor above yourself.
Here’s the great part of the story, though. Both sons are loved equally. Both sons made the father sad. Both sons broke His heart. But God sent His only begotten son, Jesus, to pay the price for the scandal and the pride, sins of show and sins of the heart. The angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents. And repentance is open to all, it is free, it is a gift that God the Father lavishes on you, His wayward sons and daughters.
So come to the feast, you lowly. See yourself in His story. Recognize that you are welcome at His Table, for His son bought you with the greatest of price. You have caused him sorrow, but that sorrow will be turned to great joy and happiness at your return. You have been washed, you have been cleansed, you have a seat with the heavenly Father. Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
And now may the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith unto life everlasting. Amen.