Two Wandering Hearts

Black Hole At The Center Of Our Universe

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Luke 15.

Opening Illustration: This past Friday was the infamous Friday the 13th. When something bad happens to us, we like to blame it on bad luck or Friday the 13th. If you look up Friday the 13th and try to find out how that day became “unlucky”, no one really knows. In ancient Norse mythology the evil god Loki came uninvited to a feast in Valhalla. As Loki was the 13thso called “god” at the party, 13 became an unlucky number. In short, the legend of Friday the 13th began in idolatry. It is just untrue. Friday the 13th, walking under a ladder, a black cat crossing your path, spilling salt, breaking a mirror – none of these things are anything in reality. No one day is worse than another. When bad things happen to us, it happens because we or someone around us made bad choices.

Our Choices, Not Our “Luck”, Define Us

Every Day Of Life Is A Gift From God.
God Is The Source Of All Life.
God Has Gifted You This Day –
What Will You Do With It?

Psalm 118:24 This is the day the LORD has made;

The world loves to blame it’s woes on something or someone else. Dear ones, the action you take, moment by moment, will lead to whether you are blessed or cursed tomorrow. God has given you the gift of life. You have neither earned it, nor deserved it. What you do with that gift is up to YOU. You can twist the gift. You can choose poor companions for your journey. I heard one speaker tell a group of graduating High School students:

The friends you embrace today will determine your future tomorrow.”

Let’s look at Luke 15 – the longest “Parable” Jesus ever Created

Someone asked Jesus one time, “Why do You speak in parables?” (Matthew 13:10). Jesus said, “Because the Godhead wants you, My followers, to understand the truths of the Kingdom of God, but the Godhead does not want those who do NOT follow Me to know these truths” (my paraphrase of Matthew 13:11). You see, Jesus is “THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life” (John 14:6). God gives us all the gift of life freely, but enhances and brings greater blessing to our lives only when we come to Jesus.

A parable cannot be mined for truth using our own intellect. A parable only makes sense when we hear it at the feet of Jesus, and we listen to it submitting to the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God. Today’s 388 word parable starts with …

Luke 15:11 And He {Jesus} said, A certain man had two sons:

Already most of us have messed up the parable. I have heard preachers introduce this as “The Parable of the Prodigal Son”. The word “prodigal” is an Old English word that means “to spend money or resources wastefully or extravagantly”. In the first part of this parable Jesus talks about a son who wanders away from his Father (verses 12-24). Many translators of the Bible have often – since the bulk of this parable deals with the wandering son – put an uninspired heading like “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” or, as in my Bible, “The Parable Of The Lost Son”. But this is NOT what Jesus said. Jesus said,

A certain man had TWO sons

This parable is not about ONE wandering son, but TWO. Who are these wandering sons? Who is the FIRST wandering son? You would know if you’d read the context leading up to this long parable. Look at:

Luke 15:1-2 Then drew near unto {Jesus} all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

The first wandering son our parable deals with is the “sinners” that come to Jesus. Jesus calls out to the sinners, to the broken, and bids them come to Him. Jesus came on a mission from God the Father to save souls. Jesus said, “Come unto Me, ALL YE THAT LABOR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus came from the Father crying out, “If anyone THIRSTS, cone unto ME AND DRINK” (John 7:37). When Jesus called for people to repent and come to Him, we read …

15:1 THEN drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

The broken came to Jesus, surrendering their lives. The sinners came to Jesus surrendering their lives.

Word Study MURMUR: BUT the Pharisees and Scribes, what did they do? THEIR HEARTS wandered far from Jesus. The Pharisees and scribes MURMURED, saying, This MAN receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. They MURMURED. Why did Israel wander for 40 years in the wilderness, dying, an entire generation of people being buried before God allowed them to enter the Promised Land. Because they murmured. These people honor Me with their lips, but THEIR HEARTS are FAR FROM ME” (Matthew 15:8) said the Lord. Jesus opened the door for anyone to come to Him, but they must come putting God’s heart first. The Pharisees and Scribes – though close to Jesus physically – we FAR AWAY from Him in their hearts.

Oh Beloved, this is a parable of TWO SONS. Which son are you?

The Younger Son Physically & Spiritually
Wandered Far From Home

Luke 15:12 And the younger of them said to his Father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

The younger son goes to his Father and demands the portion of goods that falleth to me.

The “younger son” is the wandering sinner.

When the Pharisees and Scribes murmured because Jesus allowed sinners to come near Him, Jesus told these “elder sons”two smaller introductory parables. Jesus said:

Luke 15:4-6 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

If you were a farmer of sheep, what would be more valuable to you? The sheep you have locked up and safely secured somewhere, or the sheep that has wandered away? We always place more effort and more heart into finding what is lost. When we have a thing, we take it for granted. But when we lose it – oh, how we fret until we find it.

Illustrate: Now this might not mean much to you, but let me relate it to my life. I own five computers, and use them in everything from scheduling, to typing out my sermons, to Biblical research, and even use them for entertainment. A few years ago I accidentally left one of my computers – an Ipad Mini – in a shopping cart at the local Walmart. I got all the way home when I realized what I had done. I didn’t say, “Oh well, I have four other computers. No big deal.” No, I jumped in the car, headed back to the Walmart, and by the Grace of God found that lost item. I rejoiced all day long that I found what was no more than an electronic gadget. It didn’t matter that I had the others safely at home. I found what was lost – and rejoiced.

You say, “Well, this is a silly illustration”, but Jesus knows just what I’m talking about. He spoke ANOTHER introductory parable about an inanimate object. Read with me:

John 15:8-10 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

All the coins that the woman had are equally valuable (just like all my computers have equal value) – though she celebrated more over the coin she found. God does the same thing. Jesus said, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Hear me. Jesus did NOT say that the angels had joy. He said there is joy in the presence of the angels of God. Where is the joy coming from? It is coming from GOD. GOD IS REJOICING when a sinner – a life that God made – comes back to the One Who made him. God is the Father in the parable – and God is the Source of all life. Jesus said:

Luke 15:7 … likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

God made each person to be in His family, to be a son of God, a child of the Kingdom. God longs to embrace each person in love, and be a part of their lives. He says:

borne by Me from before your birth,
carried from the womb;

even to your old age I Am He,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.

I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save. (Isaiah 46:3-4 ESV)

God loves us, though as sinners we wandered. This young son wandered far from home. We read:

Luke 15:13 And not many days after the younger son {the sinner} gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

We journey to a far country. As sinners, we get as far from God as we possibly can.

  • Pitiful women gather outside of Judicial houses, demanding that they be given the right to murder their babies. They are in a far country.
  • The addict sits at a bar or ingests a pill or injects poison into their veins to get a temporary “high”. They are in a far country.
  • A person prostitutes themselves, pursuing the fleeting pleasure of heterosexual, homosexual, or transsexual evil. Jesus tells us that God’s standard is different.

Matthew 19:4-6 (ESV) … {God} who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.

Ignoring His Word, we move into a far country. We are far from peace, far from joy, far from satisfaction. We have followed our hearts into the darkness.

And the darkness consumes us.

Luke 15:14-15 And when {the younger son, the wandering sinner} had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and {the sinner} began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and {that citizen} sent him into his fields to feed swine.

Oh Beloved, in America today there is a mighty famine in the land.

  • There is a mighty famine in morality.
  • There is a mighty famine in common sense.
  • There is a mighty famine in politics.
  • There is a mighty famine in civility.
  • There is a mighty famine on social media.
  • There is a mighty famine economically.
  • There is a mighty famine in the churches.
  • There is a mighty famine in our families.
  • There is a mighty famine in our communities.

People are crying out. “Where is God in all this?” God has never left. He is where He has always been. But God will not force you into His family. God calls us in Christ, and bids us in Jesus to REPENT, to TURN FROM OUR WICKEDNESS and to RETURN home.

The sinner – the younger son – gets to the bottom of the barrel.

Luke 15:16-17 And he would {would} have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17 And when he came to himself …

Praise God when …

… you get to the bottom of the barrel
… the straw breaks the camel’s back
… when you reach the bridge too far
… and find yourself at the end of the rope.

When we are as low as we can go, “we might come to ourselves”. This sinner came to himself. Now he tells himself:

Luke 15:17-20 … How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his Father.

When you’re in the worst place you can be, you’re in the best place of your life if it causes you to repent. This sinner repented. The sinner went to the Father and DEMANDED what he was due, then wasted the life given him. Now the sinner goes to the Father with NO DEMANDS. “I’ll be one of your HIRED SERVANTS if you’ll take me in”. That’s all his heart now wants. This is Biblical repentance. This is the only Way unto salvation.

See now the love of God. See the heart of Christ!

Luke 15:20-24 But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Oh how God loves you! Oh how God bids you return, repent and return to Him Who made you. Receive the Lord Jesus Christ, and draw near to Him. Our Jesus is a “Friend of sinners” (Luke 7:34). He came to this earth to “call sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). But the parable is NOT over. We now come to …

The Older Son Who Spiritually & Physically
Wandered Far From Home

Whereas the younger son physically & spiritually wandered far from home, the older son spiritually & physically wandered away as well. I didn’t say the same thing twice. The older son stayed near the Father. The older son heard the Father’s commands. The older son worked in the Father’s fields. We read:

Luke 15:25-27 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.

The elder son heard music and dancing. He has every right to go in and join the party. But instead, the elder son called one of the servants. Did you notice this. The elder son didn’t go find the FATHER. He found a SERVANT.

The elder son wanted to be waited on.
The elder son wanted to be catered to.

Let’s ease back into the context before this parable. Ease back to:

Luke 14:26-35 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. 34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

You know what Jesus is tells us? We are in a battle for men’s souls. We are in a battle for the lives of others. We are in a battle for the Kingdom of God …

and in America, we are losing the battle.

Why? Because the “older son”, the one who should know the Father’s heart, has wandered away. Oh, the older son may attend Church services. The older son may tithe. The older son may know all the hymns in the hymn book. But the older son has gotten comfortable. The older son does not want to welcome the younger son – the saved sinner – into his midst.

It is MESSY to deal with lost people. It takes WORK to love the enemy. But the heart of God is to love the lost, and to – not JUSTIFY the EVIL that the lost do – but to love the lost when they come into the Father’s house. And when someone gets saved WE ARE TO CELEBRATE.

Illustrate: Tonight we’re having a baptismal service, welcoming wandering sons into the family of God. We will bring finger food, and celebrate with these new believers, as they make their commitment to follow Jesus’ command to be baptized. Some of you will MURMUR. “I don’t have time for this. I pay the preacher to preach, to teach ME the Bible. I don’t see why we have to bring finger food. I don’t WANT to celebrate.” If you feel this way, you are the older son in Jesus’ parable. You are a Pharisee and a Scribe.

Illustrate: Every week our Worship Leader, Jerry Bridenbaugh, reads a passage of Scripture at the beginning of our services. Jerry reads a passage from 2 Chronicles 5:13-14, “It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.” Why does Jerry read this? Because he wants us to know that when we as the House of Christ, the elders sons, gather and PRAISE THE LORD WITH ALL OUR HEARTS, that God the Holy Spirit enters the house. If you have tuned Jerry out while yawning your way through the services, then YOU are the older son in Jesus’ parable.

When a visitor comes into the House of God, are you more concerned about where that person sits or how that person looks, rather than rejoicing that they are here? Do you pray that God will touch their hearts throughout the message? Do you welcome the stranger, and tell them your name? Or do you stay aloof, hoping the service will not go into overtime? You may be the elder son in Jesus’ parable.

In the Book of Hebrews God says:

Hebrews 13:7 (ESV) Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

If you’re a leader, an elder son, you are not called to be waited on. You are called to wait on God. I am called to wait on God. We are to set the standard, remembering thatwe are “entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts” (ESV). God said:

Hebrews 13:17 (ESV) Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

As the Pastor and lead Bible Teacher of this Church, I am to keep watch over your souls. This means that I must continue to speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). I will have to give an account to Jesus one day for your souls. And you who are saved – you who are elder sons – will have to give an account of yourselves unto God” (Romans 14:12).

Returning to the parable, the Father speaks to the older son.

Luke 15:27-28 And {The Father} said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.

The elder son was upset. Why was he upset? What made him so mad? Continue reading with me as the elder son (representing the Pharisees and scribes) said:

Luke 15:29-30 And {the elder son} answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

The elder son was upset because he wasn’t the center of attention. He – like the younger son at the beginning of this story – was saying Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. I want to be the center of attention. I want everything to be pleasing to me. The Father told the elder son:

Luke 15:31 And {The Father} said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

Think carefully about these words. The Father told the older son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. Because Christ died on Calvary for us, we are FOREVER with the Father. Heaven is ours. We have God the Holy Spirit indwelling us. Praise God, we are nested in the hands of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. God has given us the PRIVILEGE of representing His Kingdom on this earth. The parable ends with:

Luke 15:32 It was meet {fitting} that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

We should celebrate every life that comes to Christ’s Kingdom. We should celebrate every person saved by grace, by the Blood of the old rugged Cross. But the choice is ours. We can get our hearts right, and get in tune with the heart of Jesus – or we can perish as a Church. What will we choose? May God guide us by His Spirit to seek out and lead others to salvation by faith in Christ. For God’s sake we pray. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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