Our Crazy Lord Who Runs To Sinners

Text:  Luke 15:11-32

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

In the old hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” there are two lines that summarize mankind.  These two lines that capture mankind’s heart are, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.  Prone to leave the God I love.”  Indeed, because of our sinful hearts we are prone to wander, we are prone to leave the God that we love.  We never stay put.    

This wandering of mankind is so clearly seen in today’s Gospel reading from the Gospel of Luke.  In a parable, Jesus tells us about a father and his two sons.  One day the youngest son came to his father and asked for his inheritance early.  Now, to wish for an inheritance early – before the death of the father – was equivalent to saying, “Dad, I wish you were dead.  You mean nothing to me.  You are not important to me, just give me your wealth and your money and go ahead and die.” 

Many fathers would find this as a good reason to kick their sons out of the house and take their sons out of their will; however, in today’s parable the father is gracious and gives his son exactly what he asked for.  That is right, the father liquidates half of everything he owns and gives it to his one son and wishes him well. 

We all know what happens next.  The son sets out to immediately gratify himself.  Contemporarily speaking, the young son went to the big city to smoke pot, drink the finest of whiskies, chase wild women, and probably snort some cocaine – this was the new lifestyle of the rebellious son.  He had cash and resources and was not afraid to spend it on whatever he wanted.  He tossed his father and his former life out of his mind as he did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted.  He lived excessively and gave into whatever he desired at the moment.    

The next thing we know, this son was broke and starving.  He lived without limits and gave himself over to every lust of his heart.  He literally blew thousands upon thousands of dollars upon meaningless indulgences – temporary highs.  Now though, the young son broke, hungry, and in debt.  His money had run out and he was working off debt, as he fed pigs and was jealous of their slop. 

So, of course, the young son one day – after hitting rock bottom – decided to go home, confess his sins against his father and God and hope to receive a place as a servant with his father place.  He knew that his father treated the slaves better than what he was going through in the mud with the pigs. 

Up to this point, the story seems to make sense.  Even though we think the young son is foolish and downright ruthless for treating his father the way that he did, we have seen this before with the ways of youthfulness.  We have heard stories about this kind of stuff and maybe even flirted with this kind of lifestyle ourselves. 

With that said though, what does not make sense in our story is the father.  As we hear in our story the father is out day after day looking down the long road for his son.  The father did not occasional think of his son who wished him dead, but rather, the son was upon his mind every single day.  In fact, the whole farm operation is being run by his other son, but the father does not really care about the farm.  He is concerned about his rebellious son.  Where is he?  Is he o.k.?  Will he maybe come back someday?  These are the things that the father’s thoughts are consumed with.  Day after day, week after week, the father watches.  He looks down the road.  He imagines his son walking home on the road.  He waits.  His heart hurts for his wandering son.  Time after time, he is disappointed though that the road is empty.  Time after time, he is saddened that his young son does not turn up.  However, the father does not stop longing and looking for him – he can’t stop longing and caring.  He can’t give up on his rebellious and lost son. 
Now, this is what does not make sense to us.  In other words, the behavior of the father does not make sense.  You see, this kind of behavior is actually beneath the dignity of such a wealthy and prominent member of society; besides the son wished the father dead – the father should not care that much.  If anything, the father should have hatred for his rebellious son, for the son was a wretched example of a human being, if there ever was one.  However, the father could not get his mind off his son.  He could not stop looking for his son.  Even though the son wished him dead, the father wished for his son in his midst.  It was better to be hated as a father and have his son near, than to have no son at all.

One day everything changed.  The father looking down the road saw someone far off in the distance and with a sudden jolt the father jumped to his feet and said to himself, “Could that be my son? Oh Lord, let it be him.”  As the person on the road drew near, the father’s heart began to thump in his chest.  The person on the road was the same height and had a similar walking stride as his son.  However, his clothes were not like his son.  The clothes were a bunch of ripped rags.  And the person coming up the road had long ratted hair and a scraggly beard.  He was also very skinny.  “Could that be my son?” the father wondered.

The man walking on the road paused and looked up.  In that instance, the father saw his son’s face. 

…it was him!  It was him!  It was him! 

The father lifted up his fancy robe, exposing his legs, and ran towards his son, which was not a dignified thing to do.  However, dignity was the last thing on the father’s mind.  He did not care if rich respected men did not run with their legs exposed, for his son had come home.  He did not care what others thought, all he cared about was his son.  His son was before him and he was determined to grab ahold and make sure that he didn’t get away.  He had been waiting for this day and imagining it for quite some time and now it was happening. 

As he drew near his son, the son looked up with shame in his face and mumbled something, but the father did not care.  “My son is alive, he was dead, but he is an alive.  He is alive.  He is alive!  He is here!” the father shouted with joy.    

Even though the son was filthy and smelled like a dirty pig, the father did not care.  He reached out and embraced his son, getting the sons filth upon himself.  He kissed his sons dirty face, with tears of joy running down his face, getting the dirt and smell of pigs on his lips – but he did not care.  His son was home.  He would gladly get dirty in order to grab ahold of his lost son. 

While the son was trying to apologize the father did not listen for he was yelling out to get his best rob and to get his ring.  He kept yelling to get the best animal and kill it to prepare a feast, because his son lives! 

Once the father obtained the best rob, he used it to cover his son’s filthy body and then placed a ring on his son’s filthy hands as a symbol that everything that the father owned and the entire father’s authority belonged to his son. 

At this point, we can imagine everyone looking at the father thinking: what a crazy old man; that son spat in the eye of the father, squandered the father’s wealth, wished him dead, comes home smelling like a pig crap, and just like that the crazy old man gives him everything – again.  The old man must be crazy!

Yes, my friends, the Lord God is that crazy!  He really is.  He is that crazy about sinners like you and like me.  He welcomes sinners and even eats with them.

In case you haven’t realized this, you and I are that young son.  We are that rebellious self-serving son.  We are prone to wander and prone to leave the God that we love.  We constantly spit in the face of God, we wish that He were dead because we want to do what makes us happy.  We mock God by our sin; He gives us good gifts and we squander them.  He gives us forgiveness, life, and salvation, and we then make a wreck of our lives by sinning in thought, word, and deed.  And yet when we return to the Lord’s house of worship – His beloved Church – with our heads held low saying, “I have sinned in thought, word, and deed,” the Lord does not hide his face from us, but runs out to us in the Absolution as if to say, “My child is home; you are forgiven; take and eat, take and drink, the feast of the Lamb for you!  Christ has been slaughtered for you.  You are home in my church, where you belong.”

Dear friends, do you realize that when we confess our sins in the divine service that God and the angels rejoice?  And then the Lord clothes us not with a fabric robe, but He declares that we have been clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus in our baptisms?  Even though your sins are like scarlet, you are white as snow because you are clothed in Jesus, because the Lord does not despise the broken hearted. 

Indeed, God and the angels rejoice every time that we confess our sins and hear about the God who runs to sinners in order to forgive.  Every time we confess our sins, it is as if another prodigal has come home.  Again and again and again, every time we confess our sins the Lord rejoices and runs out to meet our sin with forgiveness, life, and salvation. 

And when we feel shame for our sins, the Lord shuts our mouths by pointing us to the finished work of Jesus.  We cry out, “I have sinned against you O Lord…”  And the Lord interrupts us saying, “You dear child are baptized!  You are forgiven!  You were dead, but you are alive!  All of heaven and the whole Church rejoice that you are home!”

Dear Baptized Saints, when we have made a muck of our lives, when we find ourselves at the end of our rope and in the sewage of our sins, there is no better place to be than in Christ’s Church – our home.  Indeed, the Gospel is for sinners; it is for prodigals like you and like me.  The Lord God seeks out the lost sheep, He seeks out the lost coin, He runs out to the prodigal – He draws near to the brokenhearted.  He comes to us contrite sinners not to celebrate our sin or to chastise us, but to absolve and forgive our sins, for the sacrifice of Christ on the cross was and is sufficient.    

You were lost, but today you have been found.  The Lord possess you; He has wrapped you in the rob of your baptisms.  You are His; forgiven, loved, and cherished today and for all of eternity.

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

CLICK HERE to 'Like' on Facebook
CLICK HERE to 'Follow' on Twitter
CLICK HERE to Subscribe on iTunes
CLICK HERE to Subscribe on Podbean