Prodigal Son l Luke 15:11-32 l Chapel Hill Church Gig Harbor

Prodigal Son l Luke 15:11-32 l Chapel Hill Church Gig Harbor

Back when I was a freshman in high school, I had a youth leader/Chapel Hill elder who mentioned that they knew how to make homemade fireworks.
Which I of course found very intriguing. So, I did some supply scavenging that involved a 2L plastic bottle and crystal Drano (not the full recipe) and persuaded said elder to shake our bible study up a little bit and provide a different kind of catechetical formation one Friday after school. DISCLAIMER: Do not try this at home…

Naturally, we decided to try our experiment in the church parking lot – right beneath Dad’s office window. As it turns out, I would’ve been a pretty good addition to the army and had a natural proclivity for making things explode. Too natural, in fact. What was supposed to be a gentle little “pop” was an earth shattering, window-shaking bang that stained the asphalt for literally years.
Thankfully, it was a Friday and no one was supposed to be around to call the SWAT team (which in hindsight would have been a legitimate move). But as it turns out, one person happened to be in his office that day…

After an explosion that would’ve made the Hindenburg sound like pop rocks, Dad came tearing down and burst through the side stairs. He immediately assessed the situation, guilty 15-year-old daughter and guilty ruling elder caught with crystal Drano in hand. And Dad shouted in frustration, “WHAT ON EARTH WERE YOU THINKING?!!! HOW COULD YOU TRY SOMETHING LIKE THIS WITHOUT ME?!!!”

Sometimes dads surprise us, don’t they? This morning we are going to dive into what is quite possibly the most famous dad story in the Western world. And this dad is never going to respond the way you expect him to. But before we get to it, I want you to think about two questions: Who is this story really about? And who is it actually for? Because the answer is not what you think, and it might have something to say to you…

We’ll be in Luke chapter 15, which starts out with Jesus doing his Jesus thing – hanging out with all the “wrong” people and putting all the “right” people in a tizzy.

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and scribes muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable…” (Luke 15:1-3)

Jesus proceeds to tell his three great lost and found stories. The first is the story of the lost sheep. The shepherd treks all over the back country until he finds it, then throws a party for the neighborhood as soon as he gets back to celebrate. The second is the story of a lost coin. The woman misplaces a significant percentage of her retirement and tears the house apart. And when she finds it, she throws a party for the neighborhood to celebrate. Then there is the final lost and found story. But this one has a few more plot twists, and it starts like this:

“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So, he divided his property between them. “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. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So, he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.” Luke 15:11-16.

Once upon a time there was a successful businessman with two sons. The father was well-respected in his community, but his relationship with his kids was…complicated. The youngest was especially mouthy, and one day came to his dad and said, “Dad, I want all the money I’ll get when you die so I can live my best life right now without you in it.” But instead of the appropriate response – “I ain’t dead. It ain’t yours. And until you learn to wipe that entitled smirk off your face, I’m not letting you buy a bag of Doritos with my money” – he did something completely insane. He gave the snot-nosed punk what he asked for. Right then and there the dad liquidated half of his company’s assets – millions of dollars – and wrote the kid a check.