The Father’s Love
By Rev. Rebekah Lawson
We are going to be looking at Love and there is no better place to start than with Luke.
*Luke begins this section of scripture with 3 different parables that lead to one theme: the Father's love for the lost. Luke 15:1-7:
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
3So he told them this parable: 4“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Since we know that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and that we are all sinners saved by grace and grace alone, than that love extends to all of us. The first parable of the lost sheep was a response to the condemnation from so called holy people's complaints. Jesus was spending his time with people who were considered sinners. Jesus points out that he goes after those who are lost, searching for them, no matter what; searching until he finds them. Then celebrating Over their return. Jesus introduces the idea that holiness does not come from separation but from loving others, and that God searches after us, longing to love us and to have that love given back in return.
Luke 15:8-10: The Parable of the Lost Coin
8“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The second parable uses another example to prove the same point. A woman loses a coin, and after ripping her whole house apart she find it. Have you lost things? Have you ever lost your keys and knowing that you can not go anywhere without them you searched and searched just to find out that they were in the refrigerator. Then you told everyone you found them and had a great laugh about where they were. God searches for us and when we are found he responds by celebrating.
In this parable, Jesus builds on the idea that God's love for the lost, ie. God's love for everyone, is so extravagant that God would tear the world apart to find even one lost person. So far Jesus has used these 2 parables to point out that God searching for us and celebrates over us once we are found.
Luke 15:11-32: The Parable of the Prodigal Son
11And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
Now Jesus takes it to the next level. He puts a face on the searching love of God; the face of a Father. This 3rd parable, the parable of the gracious father, places the Father in a relationship situation with 2 different types of sons. One son is irresponsible and takes the gifts his father gives him and squanders them away. The other son stays in the home and works hard. This son looks to the outsider as if he is the good son, but he does not know the true love that the Father has because he is as selfish as his brother, even though he does not show it. He desires love that is shallow and tries to win that love and affirmation with works. But the star of the show is the Father.
Jesus wanted to show the extravagant love that was within the Father's heart, and the desire the Father had for restored relationship with his sons. The younger son acted very unwisely by squandering the gifts his father had given him. After finding himself in a Jewish skid-row of sorts, he then humbled himself and walk back to the Father expecting to be punished by being a slave instead of a son. The father was looking for him and longing for him, and when the father saw him he ran to his son and embraced and kissed him. The father knew what he had done, but he did not wait for his son to come all the way home just to criticize him. It is human nature to feel as if we should be punished for the stupid and selfish things we do, but it is God's nature to love us and envelope us into His love when we are ready to turn back to him and respond to the love that God gives. We punish, but God loves.
The son had humiliated himself, his family, and his father, but the Father did not lash out in anger, but looked for the son and when he found the son he ran and embracing him in love. But the Father's love does not stop there. The Father then tells everyone and celebrates that his son has returned. What love that must be to long for someone so much that your own pride does not matter, but the relationship means more than the acts that were committed. Father God's arms are warped all around us as we are living in self-given condemnation. We need to realize that God sees us not as the child who sinned, but as the child that was lost and has been found; as the child with so much promise and potential that he is going to shower us with love and celibate our return to Him. That is the picture of a true father.
There is also a restoration of relationship that God the father desires between himself and his fallen creation. Even though we may not deserve it, Father God desires a restored relationships of father and son or daughter. The Father places a ring on the son's finger and restores him to Son-ship. The intimate relationship is what God is after. Even with the elder son, the Father desires restored Relationship. The eldest son feels as if he has been taken advantage of and is working for the favor of his father. He does not understand that he Father gives love to all His children, no matter what they do for Him or against Him. The Father goes to restore the relationship with His eldest son and encourages him to see love in relationship, not in favoritism or in who is deserving getting their just dues. So, who are the Father's children? Who receives this love that this perfect Father gives?
Romans 8:14-17 says:
“14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
If we follow God and God's Spirit, we are all children of God through the Spirit of God. The Spirit bears witness to our Spirit that we are children and heirs to the father God.
Galatians 4:3-7 says:
3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
We now have the privilege of having an intimate relationship with our Father God; so intimate that we are able to not only call God, Abba Father, but it is now the definition of our relationship with our creator. We are all adopted children of God and therefor God is our Father. Our earthly fathers may have been flawed, but God gives us a father within himself that is perfect. If you need a Father to hold you, you can turn to Father God.If you need a Father to show you how to be a Godly Father, turn to your Father God. If you need a friend, a comforter, a counselor, you can turn to your Father God. The Perfect example of who we are to be is within our Father God. No longer do we have to see Father God through the colored glasses of the example we have here in this life, but now we can understand the true face of our true Father. Men, you now have a perfect example of how to be a Godly father who loves no matter what. Open your heart up to understand God as Father, and let Father God heal any hurts. Let Father God tear down the walls of pain as he caries you through your life. Allow Father God to redefine the understanding of Father in your life. This week we celebrate the Fatherhood of God as we look at the ultimate Best Dad; our Abba Father; Our Daddy God. Our Example and foundation of Love for every area of our lives.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 15:1–32). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.