Luke 15:17-19, "And when he
came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread
enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father,
and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired
This morning, we are again at a time of year when people all over are making
resolutions to change their lives. Many of these resolutions are natural in
scope (such as losing weight, making more money, etc.), while others are
spiritual in scope (such as reading more of the Bible, attending church more
regularly, etc.). Regardless of the resolution or its type, many of them lose
their luster after a relatively short period of time. In the natural frame, the
gyms are packed the first few weeks of January with the attendance dropping off
steadily after that. In the spiritual frame, many people read through the book
of Genesis with zeal and vigor, which is helped by the interesting nature of the
book with its accounts, but in keeping with the book's title, they exit their
resolution of reading in Exodus due to some of the detailed accounts of the
tabernacle construction and law worship. In both instances, the outcomes are
similar, and sometimes even the most sincere intents meet with this unfortunate
conclusion. Let us, therefore, look at a Biblical account of a resolution, its
outcome, and the lesson for us today.
In this passage, Christ is giving the account of the prodigal son who left home
and eventually came back. During the entire lesson, we need never forget that
this man was always his father's son. Nothing about their natural relationship
changed, although the nature of their fellowship did suffer great changes. So,
first and foremost, we need to understand that nothing in our lives changes the
fact that we are God's children, elect according to His foreknowledge,
predestinated according to His purpose, redeemed by His blood, called by His
grace, justified by His grace and blood, and will one day stand glorified before
Him in complete satisfaction. Whatever happens or befalls us, nothing can ever
separate us from that great love wherewith He loved us. (Romans 8, Ephesians 2)
The relationship is forever secure and intact, but our fellowship with our
Father depends greatly upon our knowledge of our position and satisfaction
within that position. The son who left home was no less a son than his brother
who stayed. However, his dissatisfaction with his current situation led to a
lifestyle that left him poor and destitute.
If our lives have tasted that the Lord is gracious and we have been blessed to
see the good of the land in the Master's house, may we be content with that
situation. May we never be content with our shortcomings, but may we always be
content with His pavilions and courts. A little strife within the house is
better than all the folly of riotous living in a far country. Better is a family
in each others' presence with the natural grumblings (although we should work to
limit such) than a life separated from family with the chambering and riot of
the world. Naomi was made to see this great truth as she left Israel during a
famine, but returned from Moab in great emptiness. She left the land of the
people of God during a dry season, but returned with the knowledge that a dry
season in God's house is better than the wealth and greatness in the world.
(Ruth 1) So it was in the case of the prodigal son. When we realized what he
had, he saw the thing that dissatisfied him when he left was better than
anything he had discovered on his journey.
When he reached this point, he made a resolution after coming to himself. His
coming to himself basically means that his senses returned to him.
Nebuchadnezzar experienced the same in Daniel 4 after spending 7 years cast out
from among men. He had the reason and sense to bless the most High. This son had
the sense and reason to understand that blessed privilege of being able to sit
as his father's son in his father's house. Truly, when we understand the true
teaching of God's word and taste its rich goodness and fatness, it does make
sense. What the word of God teaches may be difficult, at times, to understand
(such as prophecies and visions). However, the theme of God's grace and the
redemption of His children is not nearly as hard to understand as it is to
accept. Paul instructed Timothy that what we have received is not based out of
fear but power, love, and a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:7) A sound mind can
understand the reason and order of God's way, whereas it takes a deluded mind to
craft all the complex and convoluted webs that false doctrine entails.
So, after returning to his senses, the prodigal made a resolution to his course.
He determined to beg his father's forgiveness and seek a servant's position. In
this account, I believe the context will bear out that he is indeed sincere in
his thought and venture. The overall context deals with three stories: lost
coin, lost sheep, and the prodigal son. In this context the subject matter is
about restoration and fellowship (not eternal security). Christ asserts during
this discussion that there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repents, and
the repentance of the son shows indeed something worth rejoicing about. His
sincerity, I believe, is shown by his decision and humble mentality.
As we read from the account, the son does indeed make it home again, see his
father once more, and sees his resolution go unrealized. He fully expected to
find mercy at his father's door as a hired servant. Should that have happened,
there would certainly have been mercy extended that day, as he did not deserve
to be received back after wasting all that his father gave him. The son may have
even seen his father's mercy shown in time's past that gave him the hope and
assurance that he too would find mercy that day. Yet, what he found was mercy
that transcended the mercy that he expected. His resolution was sincere and
labour was shown to fulfill it (journeyed back home). Yet, the resolution was
denied to make way for something the son did not expect to happen at all.
Instead of mercy as a servant, he found mercy as a son with the command to the
house to make a feast and kill the fatted calf.
What does the application of the failed resolution do for us today? Have you
ever felt to fail in keeping a promise to Him? Have you left off sacrifices that
He requires? Have you wasted those things which He has given unto you? My
answers to the above are yes, yes, yes, and far too many times. We may feel
like, "I cannot come back. It has been too long, for I have strayed too long and
too far. All that He gave me is gone." Indeed, we may waste that which He gives
to us, but consider that His storehouse is never empty (or for that matter even
less than full). His mercy transcends what we may expect in mercy. Have you ever
prayed that earnest plea after failing Him yet again, "Make me as a hired
servant. I am not worthy to be called Thy son."? What reply makes the answer?
Come hither and kill the fatted calf, for my son that was lost is found again.
Our resolutions in life may go unfulfilled. We may fall and come up short again
of serving Him as we have promised Him that we would. Perhaps our reading
suffers, our prayers suffer, or perhaps we neglect the simple act of showing
compassion to one of His little ones. In every case, these shortcomings make us
feel to once again not be worthy of the least of His blessings. We may cast
ourselves at mercy's door seeking a servant's place, but the mercy we find at
His rich throne of grace goes beyond the mercy we may expect. When the house is
full of rejoicing with the smiles of the Father in every face in every corner,
the love and joy of the fellowship transcends what we may have expected to find.
We may think the joy for us will never be as it was before we left. Surely the
blessings - we think - will be less upon us for straying away so long, yet the
son's place returns to the son with all the joys that he had before. He wasted
what was given
him, but found there to be still exceeding abundantly more still at home.
May we never give up hope about our place in Him. We may fail in resolutions, or
we may make new ones to Him as the prodigal did. Yet, the prodigal came back
putting one foot in front of the other to fulfill his resolve. May we put one
foot in front of the other to fulfill our resolve. Will we realize that which we
are resolved to do? We may or may not, but just as the father saw his son afar
off and greeted him, we will see our Father greet us as He sees us coming from
afar. Our resolution may not be realized, but His mercy and kindness unto us
will be realized and in greater sense than we may even believe or think
possible. The greatest act of mercy ever shown was the Son coming to earth to
die for us, but one of the greatest experiential mercies ever shown is the
Father coming to the sons to restore them to the joys of that relationship once
again. We may not find at home exactly what we believe we will find, but one
thing that will be there will be the sweet peace and comfort from the still,
small voice that says, "I have loved thee; thou art Mine."