Introduction: A man and his wife had a terrible fight; now they weren’t speaking. He snapped at her as they went to their respective sides of the bed in a sullen silence: “You’ve ruined my evening, but I need you to get me up at seven in the morning; I have a crucial meeting.” She grunted a non-reply. The next morning, it was almost noon with a daylight sun coming through the window. He gasped in anger at how late he was. Then he saw a handwritten note by his bedstand: “It’s seven o’clock. Get up.”
We all know the story of how the Prodigal Son left home in an angry tirade and went to a faraway country to waste his father’s money. The funds were soon depleted and his friends abandoned him when a famine hit the land. He found himself—an orthodox Jew—feeding pigs for a scant living.
There used to be an old TV commercial where someone smacks themselves in the head and says, “I could have had a V-8!” Verse 17 describes heaven’s wake-up call.
NIV: When he came to his senses.
Message paraphrase: [He had no food]: That brought him to his senses.
KJV: When he came to HIMSELF . . .
Healthy Christians realize that being with the family, staying with Dad, is the sensible thing to do. The story of the Prodigal Son is a tale of foolishness, of sheer lunacy, of dysfunction and delusion.
Personal Story: tell a childhood story of running away and the mess we make of it, the shortsightedness of our rebellion. Who will care for us? Who will love us like Dad always did?
In his bestseller, The Purpose-Driven Life, author Rick Warren describes how we are made to be in the family, to experience God, to grow as disciples, to rejoice in ministry, to have mission adventures for Him. The flyleaf of the book quotes Ephesians 1:11: It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ . . . He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone.
This prodigal son finally wakes up to what he was supposed to be all along.
Story: In Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer describes the fatal 1996 Everest climb where several people died in a storm. Beck Weathers, a doctor from Texas, was left for dead 300 yards from the tents at Camp Four, high in the “Death Zone.” His family back home in Dallas was informed he was dead. Suddenly, almost a full day later, something or Someone woke him up. “Late Saturday afternoon, for some unknowable reason a light went on in the reptilian core of Beck’s inanimate brain and he floated back to consciousness.” He climbed to his feet and managed to stagger back to camp, where he was greeted by stunned fellow climbers. He was later helicoptered to safety in Kathmandu.
Point: The father in this Bible story respects spiritual liberty; he lets his boy go. The first two parables in Luke 15—the lost coin and the lost sheep—have the owner actively searching to recover the treasure. This third parable by Jesus doesn’t focus on the reaching power of God to draw us, to find us. The reality, however, is that we don’t “come to ourselves” unless God seeks after us. Pastor Morris Venden tells of a man who stood up in an evangelistic meeting with tears streaming down his cheeks, and confessed: “All my life, I tried to avoid God. It seems like my job was to run and God’s was to chase me . . . and tonight He finally got me.”
Conclusion / Appeal: Let’s be a church which goes and draws lost people back to the Father who loves them. And let’s proclaim a healing message which will assist heaven in helping lost prodigals to come to their senses and return home.
Submitted by David B. Smith. Better Sermons © 2005-2007. Click here for usage guidelines.