The Mission of Jesus

Scripture: Luke 19:10, Luke 15:4-7, Luke 16:19-31
Date: 05/23/2015 
Lesson: 8
"If we were to write a mission statement for Jesus, we could not do any better than to repeat His own words: 'To seek and to seek and to save that which was lost.'"
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Welcome to Sabbath School Study Hour. We are so thrilled that you have tuned in to study together God's Word. What a privilege it is that we can gather all around the country - all around the world - open up our hymnals - open up our Bibles in whatever language we speak, and we can all worship the same God. Open up your hymnals - for those of you who are at home, we are going to be singing hymn #373 this morning - seeking the lost. We are going to sing the first and the last verses of #373.

Seeking the lost, yes, kindly entreating wanderers on the mountain astray; "come unto me," his message repeating, words of the master speaking today. Going afar (going afar) upon the mountain (upon the mountain) bringing the wanderer back again, back again, into the fold (into the fold) of my redeemer (of my redeemer) Jesus the lamb (Jesus the lamb) for sinners slain, for sinners slain. Thus would I go on missions of mercy, following Christ from day unto day, cheering the faint and raising the fallen, pointing the lost to Jesus, the way. Going afar (going afar) upon the mountain (upon the mountain) bringing the wanderer back again, back again, into the fold (into the fold) of my redeemer (of my redeemer) Jesus the lamb for sinners slain, for sinners slain. If you have a favorite hymn that you would like to sing with us on an upcoming presentation, just continue sending in those requests and we will sing that with you on a coming up study together.

Our next hymn we're going to sing is a favorite of pretty much everybody all over the world: hymn #108 - amazing grace - how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. We'll sing the first and the last verses of amazing grace. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see. When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we've no less days to sing God's praise than when we'd first begun. Now Pastor Doug Batchelor is going to have our opening prayer and we'll study together.

Thank you very much. Let's go ahead and bow our heads together. Loving Lord, we are just so thankful for the freedom that we have and the opportunity to study Your Word. We're very thankful for these fascinating lessons from the Gospel of Luke. Just pray for the Holy Spirit to be present in every aspect of our time together.

Bless those both here and those who are watching part of the class from around the world. We thank you and ask this in Jesus' Name, amen. Amen. Amen. Thank you very much to our musicians and I want to welcome, once again, our friends that are watching the Sabbath school study time with us.

We have a free offer for today's study and it's a book called the high cost of the cross. Our lessons today are going to be dealing with some of the most important parables of Jesus. And if you'd like a free copy of this, then all you have to do is call 866-788-3966 - that's -study-more and we'll be happy to send that to you. Oh, and ask for offer #156 - one more thing, you can read it right now if you just go to the website, it's and you can download the book the high cost of the cross. We want to share that with you.

It'll help enhance today's study. Before we get to our study today, you know every now and then part of Sabbath school is that we have sort of a mission highlight and since we have some members here of the Granite Bay church that recently went on a mission excursion, I'd like to invite one of those people, dr. Jon freed, he's going to come up and be sharing a little bit. And maybe you could use just the podium mic - about a trip to Ethiopia. Yeah, doug, we've gone four times now to Ethiopia, this is our fourth mission trip there.

About one time each year we take a group of people - the organization that we go with is called here for them. It's a group of physicians, nurses, and evangelists that do mission work over there - a small group - and I do plastic surgery so we usually do cleft, lip, and palate surgeries and a variety of other things. This particular trip we did about 50 surgeries in ten days. Five cleft palates, several cleft lips, burn surgery, a variety of other skin tumors, things such as that. We worked at three different hospitals, one of them was gimbie adventist hospital.

I think one of the key components of the trip is that we bring along evangelists. We had people from Amazing Facts - there's a man named kenneth that came from kenya - he was an Amazing Facts evangelist that trained at afcoe in the Philippines and now he's an evangelist in kenya. He traveled over to Ethiopia. He gave meetings multiple days while we were there. What an inspiration it is to see the church abroad and how vibrant it is.

We had meetings every day and the church was filled with a thousand people every Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night - packed. Wow. At the end of the evangelistic series every evening, people would all kneel down right where they were in their pews and they would pray for 25 minutes continuously. How many times have we in our churches here in the united states had the whole congregation turn around, kneel at their pews, and pray for 25 minutes continuously? The dedication is really something there. The need is great in Ethiopia.

The people are starving both for the Word of God and also for health, so it was an exciting evangelistic series and mission trip. Yeah, now how was the food? It's different than what you're used to here, you know? One of the things that makes me think of is you get a little uncomfortable outside of your own culture and I think that we as adventists, even as Christians, we should be a little uncomfortable even in our culture here and we were a little bit uncomfortable over there, but you seem to make do. One interesting story I wanted to share just, kind of, in my last minute or two, there was one general surgeon that we worked with there in Ethiopia, not an adventist, but a Christian man, and he was telling me the story of a beggar that had come to his clinic and he had a diabetic foot ulcer and he treated him for awhile for no cost. Eventually he had to do an amputation on the man and the man begged him for some money and he said, 'I'm not going to give you any money, but I'm going to give you something better. I want you to come back in two days and I want you to tell me what you're going to do with your life.

' So the man thought about it - he left - and he came back two days later. When he came back he said, 'I've decided. I want to become a shoemaker.' So the general surgeon said, 'okay.' He went into town, he bought him all the shoemaker equipment, he set him up on the gate there of the hospital and let him do all the shoemaking stuff. Over the next two years the man got a bank account, he got enough money to travel to the capital city in addis ababa, in order to get a prosthesis on his leg and the man walks around like a normal contributing man of society now because the general surgeon put a personal interest in that man's life. Rather than just giving him a little bit of money, he gave him a gift that will last a lifetime.

And I think that's a testament to all of us - to not be afraid to get involved in somebody's life in evangelism. So, now when you were doing treatments there you did this through a translator? Yes, you know, most of the people don't speak english, although some of them do, and so we had translators with us. We had other medical personnel that worked with us as well. That's amazing. Well, thank you so much.

We sure appreciate that - that little window and what's happening in other parts of the world, amen? Amen. I really appreciate hearing these mission stories. You know, that's one of the signs of a healthy church. Someone said, either your church is going to the mission field or they are a mission field. And so we would like to stay involved in going out and helping people with medical needs as well as with spiritual needs.

I guess there were several evangelistic programs that happened in concert with what jon and others were doing medically over there in Ethiopia. You know, one of these times we need to have them also show some pictures because I know they've got some great pictures of that. Alright, we have an impossible task today, but with God all things are possible. And that's because we've got to cover all of the great parables of the Bible in 40 minutes and so I don't - I don't know how we're going to do it but we're going to do our best to at least cover some of the highlights. Our lesson today is we're dealing with our study guide on the Gospel of Luke.

We're in lesson #8 and today, in particular, it's called the mission of Jesus. And we're going to be talking about the parable of the lost son, the lost sheep, the lost coin, the rich man and Lazarus. I don't know how we're going to get all that in because I have preached entire sermons on each one of those. And so we've got a big assignment. Our memory verse, Luke 19:10, I invite you to say with me - you have your Bibles there - Luke 19:10 - in our lesson - it's from the new king James version.

Are you ready? Say it with me, "for The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Now the mission of Jesus was to come, to seek - there's an effort to seek out after, and to save - to redeem - to reclaim that which was previously lost and perishing. That's why Jesus came into this world. So that's good news because all have sinned and fallen short of The Son of God. All are lost. That means Jesus came to seek every one of you that qualifies as lost.

And to do what with it? To save. He came to save the lost. If you were lost he came to save you. It's a very simple Gospel message in just one verse. Now in our study, we've got a task of talking about a number of parables that are in the Bible and most of these are going to begin with John chapter - I'm sorry, Luke, rather - Luke chapter 15 - if you will turn in your Bibles to that page.

And we've got several verses we're going to consider. Matter of fact, I'm going to read the first verse, "then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to him to hear him. And the pharisees and the scribes complained, saying, 'this man receives sinners and eats with them.'" So then he spoke a parable. So the context of this parable is on the heels of criticism. Did the religious leaders often criticize Jesus because he would hang out with publicans and sinners? You know, one time in particular, when it was, I guess, especially egregious, was it was after Jesus called Matthew to be an apostle.

Matthew was what? He was a publican - tax collector. And to show his gratitude he had a dinner for Jesus and the other apostles and so Matthew wanted to introduce all of his other friends to Jesus and so he brought the other tax collectors and their girlfriends, which were usually prostitutes, and a lot of the off-scouring of society - the underworld, as you would say - and here's Jesus sitting and eating with them. And when the pharisees saw that, they pointed to the first psalm - psalm 1, "blessed is the man that walks not in the way of the sinners or sits in the seat of the scornful." And they're saying Jesus is going against the Scripture. He is associating with - he's befriending sinful people. And they had interpreted psalm 1 to mean that you're supposed to shun sinners.

It's not what David was talking about in that psalm, it means that when you choose your life companions, that you choose people that are - he that walks with the wise will be wise - you choose people that are going the same direction. It doesn't mean we don't care about or witness to people from all walks of life - and that's how they had interpreted it. So here they see this religious leader and later he told them, 'it's not the well that need a physician, but the sick.' He was trying to explain, 'I've got a specific purpose in spending time with this - these people - it's not so I can learn their ways, it's so I can reach them.' Christians have a very delicate dance in this world, of knowing how to have friends that are not saved and to influence their friends without being influenced by them. And we all need to pray for wisdom. So this is the context of all these parables that now follow, and he begins in verse 4 - Luke 15, verse 4 - "what man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!' I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance." Very interesting parable. First of all, how many in this world are lost? One percent? Ninety-nine percent? Or a hundred percent? With one exception, Jesus. Otherwise, everybody else that was born has sinned, right? Matter of fact, I've got some verses I'm going to have a few people help me read. We're just getting our media department where they can start integrating the microphones and get more participation. So somebody's got Isaiah 53, verse 6.

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." We have all gone astray. Now I understand that sheep are some of the most wayward of all domestic animals. A cow can find its way home. A horse can find its way home. There's a story from world war I - 1914 - there was a man named James brown - it's not the blues singer - he was an englishman.

He left his wife in staffordshire, england with their terrier. He crossed the english channel and was fighting on the front lines of France and their terrier showed up in the fox hole. They don't know how he got across the english channel. It's still a mystery. But it was his dog.

He'd come to fight the german shepherds, I guess. But dogs can - they can do this, but sheep - sheep can go a hill away and just be totally bewildered. They can't - they don't have that magnetism of, you know, the gyro gps or something that helps them find their way back and they're helpless unless they're found. And you know how sheep get lost? They don't wake up one day and say, 'I think I'm going to make a run for it and bolt for the fence.' They just want - they think about food and what they do is they'll be eating grass and they'll be looking up - they only see the next tuft of grass - and say, 'oh it looks better than this one.' And they go eat that and then they say, 'that looks better.' And they eat that and they nibble and nibble until next thing they know they're a couple of hills away and they nibble their way into being lost. Now this is a sheep.

In the Bible you've got sheep and goats. What are sheep, good or bad? They're supposed to be followers of the shepherd, but do sheep get lost? Yeah. You know how Christians wander from the church? They nibble their way. They don't wake up one day and say, 'I'm going to make a run for it.' They just start getting closer and closer to the edge until next thing they know they've gone over the edge and then they look around and can't find the shepherd or any of the other sheep and they just kind of nibble their way into being lost. So, what does the shepherd do? He says, 'well, I've got ninety-nine percent.

That's not bad. I'm happy with that. I mean, let's not be greedy. One sheep, it's not too bad a loss ratio.' But he thinks about that poor sheep out there, lost, exposed to the wolves, and he leaves the ninety-nine safe within a fold. They've got these fenced off areas with rails and they used to make fences, actually, out of thorn bushes back then - keep the predators away, keep the sheep in - they'd just stack up bushes.

And so they've got the good sheep all safe in the fold. He leaves them and he goes out in the dark and on the cliffs and you've got that picture of Jesus coming to seek and to save that which is lost. When he finds it, he doesn't scold it. He takes it in his arms. Another translation says he puts it upon his shoulders and carries it home.

And this is a picture of how the Lord is longing to save his own and to save the lost. And so, this is a picture of the story of salvation and how the lost sheep are saved. Now, one more thing, before we leave this parable, I want you to think about: what percentage of this world is lost? Everybody has sinned. In the parable, how many are lost? One. One percent - you know, I've heard this parable used another way.

the Lord has an infinite cosmos full of creations. We are not the only living intelligent being in God's infinite universe. We are the only fallen world that the Lord has. There are unfallen angels and unfallen intelligences. You know, the Bible talks about The Sons of God and satan goes to this heavenly meeting that's not on the earth, where there are other intelligent leaders and the Lord left the unfallen worlds and pure angels to come to this one wayward rebellious planet.

He could have snapped his fingers and made a new world, but he left all of that to come here to save this lost sheep. And so, our world is something like that lost sheep also as, you know, each one of us is as well. Alright, then you get to the next parable, which is the parable of the lost coin. And you go down now to verse 8, "or what woman, having ten silver coins," - these are drachmas - they weren't worth a lot. They were silver.

They were pretty. They were impressed with the image of the King. But she loses one out of ten - "if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?" She doesn't search for four hours. She doesn't search for ten days. She searches until she finds it.

You notice that? It's like she doesn't give up. She sweeps - now she's not sweeping hoping to sweep up the coin, but a lot of the houses then didn't have wood floors or marble floors, they often had dirt floors and the coin could easily get kind of ground down into the dirt if you didn't know it was lost. Now, one thing I ought to say about this coin - you would think, 'why would she be so desperate to search for this coin?' - I tell you what, let me finish reading this - she searches carefully until she finds it. "And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, 'rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!' Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Now, if I had a silver dollar - suppose I had ten silver dollars and I lost a silver dollar. I probably wouldn't tell all my neighbors.

And this was not worth much more than that. It was silver, but it was a small piece. A couple things to consider. The commentators say that when brides got married they were often given silver coins that were meant to be passed on through the family. These coins had a special significance that were connected with a dowry and it was a gift and sometimes they'd even string them together.

And so, it was more than just a monetary value, it was probably her ten coins that came with her wedding and she loses one. It's now become incomplete. And she's frantic and so she's telling her friends. Because, otherwise, you wouldn't probably call the neighborhood together to celebrate because you lost a quarter and you found it. But this is something special that she's lost.

And so, what does a woman often represent in Bible analogies or symbology? A church. Can you think of something that comes in quantities of ten in the Bible? Commandments, right? And how many does she lose? One. She says, 'oh, ninety percent's okay.' Is that what she says? No, she lights a lamp - what's a lamp? Thy word is a lamp unto my feet. She gets out the broom of diligence and effort and she sweeps. And after she sweeps the dust away, she gets down on her knees.

A lot of the houses weren't lit very well back then. She's searching until she finds it. When she finds it she says, 'oh, I was missing one of the Ten Commandments - maybe the Sabbath truth - so I don't want to say too much about this, you know, this one coin represents the Sabbath. That's just a - sort of an analogy I'm making. It's really talking about lost people, isn't it? Jesus - the whole parable is talking about finding that which is lost, but sometimes there's a dual application you might make in some of these parables - but finds the one.

You remember when Jesus held up a coin to the religious leaders? And they said, 'what should we do? Should we pay taxes to caesar or not?' They thought they had Jesus trapped. And Jesus surprised them by answering their question with a question. He said, 'whose name and inscription is on the coin?' And he's actually saying, 'whose name and image is on the coin?' They said - well, you know, just like today we stamp coins with the, you know, face of a leader - it could be a president. Now, in America, we typically wait until they're dead but, you know, if you go to australia and Canada and a lot of places, the queen of england is on their money. And so, they used to have the living king stamped on their money in Bible times.

And so he said, 'whose name and image or inscription is on there?' And they said, 'caesar's.' And, of course, Jesus said, 'give to caesar the things that are caesar's; to God the things that are God's.' But here you've got a coin - this woman has got a coin - they're hers - they're precious - and there's an image that's been stamped on it. That coin has been inadvertently dropped into the dirt and - you know what happens to silver? Silver's not like gold. Gold, you can dig it up a thousand years later, it will not oxidize. Silver will start to turn black and it'll start to tarnish. And what happens to the image of God on his children when we fall into the ground? When we are lost? It starts becoming defaced.

And so, she's down there on her hands and knees and she's looking for it and she finds it and she rubs and polishes it and restores it to the others and then calls her friends together and they rejoice that she's found this very important silver piece that was connected with her marriage - her dowry - to her friends - and they all rejoice with her. So this is giving us just one more picture. And, you know, something that is said here, in both these parables, 'there is joy in heaven' - he says, 'likewise ...there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents and is restored.' How can we on earth make people happier in heaven? You ever thought about causing a party in heaven? You know, when we, as Christians and the church members have an evangelistic meeting and at the end, God willing, you baptize people - or people along the way kneel and accept Christ you're making heaven sing? Have you ever thought about that? What could be better than to make heaven happy? Isn't that a great goal? And so he said, "likewise, I say to you," - I'm in verse 10 - "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Now, you notice, first it was one out of a hundred, now it's one out of ten. Now he goes to one more parable and it's one out of two. You notice the ratio continues to get smaller.

Now there's a difference. We've talked about the lost sheep. We've talked about the lost coin. Now we're going to talk about the lost son. These are three parables we're going to consider.

Notice, does the sheep know it's lost? The sheep knows it's lost, I mean, it doesn't have the abstract thinking, but it's out there bleating and it knows it can't find the way home. It doesn't know how to get back. Does the coin know it's lost? It doesn't know it's lost. It doesn't know how to get back. But then there's a son we're about to read about.

Does he know he's lost? Yeah, he ends up coming to his senses and he even knows the way home, but he must choose. So in all three stories, you've got three lost individuals or things, but their awareness of whether or not they're lost is very different. There are people out there in the world that are lost that have no idea they're lost. Have you ever met people that don't know if there's a God? They don't care. They don't know if they're lost.

They just figure you die and that's it and it's like they're sort of on their way to destruction and oblivious, like the lost coin. Then you've got people out there, they're in the world. They know something's missing from their lives. They're lost but they don't know how to get back. And then you've got those who have sort of deliberately rebelled and they go away and they don't know how to - they know how to get back - like the prodigal son.

So we're going to read that parable together. Go to Luke 15 and you read in verse 11, "a certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, 'father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' So he divided to them his livelihood." We actually talked about this parable during prayer meeting earlier this week. Now how many boys are there in the story? What was the difference in the Bible law between the youngest and the oldest? Firstborn got a double portion. That means he got two-thirds; the youngest got one-third.

Part of the double portion the firstborn gets is he gets the farm. The youngest might get some assets, but the farm couldn't go to both or there might be a split and rivalry and so the farm went to, usually, the oldest boy in the family, if there was a boy, and then they had a law for the daughters of zelophehad that otherwise then it would be divided among the girls, but the firstborn had the largest part. The youngest, they would, sometimes, take off and do their own thing. You can find several examples of that in the Bible. You ever notice, even in our culture today, that those that are the most responsible people usually were the oldest of the siblings? Because they spend so much time taking care of their younger brothers and sisters, they end up being the more responsible.

And the younger one says, 'look, I'm not getting much and I don't want to wait for you to die.' - It wasn't totally uncommon for them to divide the inheritance before they die. You remember when the prophet came to hezekiah and he said, 'set your house in order because you're terminal.' And he was going to divide his inheritance. Did king David choose the next king while he was still alive? So sometimes they'd even divide things while they were alive. Did Isaac divide his inheritance and bless his children years before he died? He said, 'I don't know the day of my death' - it turns out he ended up living 30 years more, but he was getting nervous about how much longer he would live and, let's face it, none of us really knows for sure. And so, Isaac said, 'bring my sons in that I might bless them.

' And he was going to give the blessing to esau, the oldest. And so it wasn't uncommon for them to divvy things up. So the boy wasn't really saying, you know, 'I can't even wait for you to die. Just hurry up and do it.' Yeah, well he was actually asking for his money pretty quick, but it wasn't unheard of that you might divide your inheritance while you were still alive. And he takes it - "not many days after" - as long as it took him to liquidate whatever he had - "the younger son gathered all together," - anything that he's got of any value and he - "journeyed to a far country.

" What does that far country represent? Yeah, when we wander from God, we end up in the far country. And you remember the story of the gibeonites in - what is that? - The book of Joshua chapter 9 - where they said, 'oh no, we're not your neighbors but we come from a far country.' And you often talk about - Jesus tells parables about this king leaves some possessions to his servants and he travels into a far country. It's talking about this great gulf that separates The Father from his children. This boy wants to get so far away from The Father that there's just no internet connection. He doesn't know what he's doing.

He can just be doing his own thing. No accountability. He doesn't have to worry about him walking up into the bar and looking over his shoulder and saying, 'what exactly are you doing?' So trying to get away from his conscience he goes as far away as he can, and while he's there, he says, 'ah, free at last. Free at last. I don't have to worry about my parents telling me what to do.

I don't have to deal with the angry looks of my older brother.' And while he was there, it says he "wasted his possessions with prodigal [riotous] living." He squanders it. You know the people who are often the most responsible with money, especially young people, are the ones who have had to work, somewhat, to get it. If people are handed everything without any effort and they haven't learned discipline and self-control ahead of time, it's amazing how quickly it can evaporate. How many of you have heard stories of people that suddenly fell into some great inheritance and it evaporates just within a matter of years. You've all heard stories about someone who won the lottery and then, next thing you know, they're in debt.

And so, that's - this boy had not - he's not quite like his older brother. And he says, 'I'm going to live it up.' You only go around once in life, he thought, and so he starts to buy drinks for everybody and he's got a lot of friends as long as he's paying the bill. And he wasted his substance. He wanted to live for the moment. He was living a totally hedonistic life for physical pleasure.

But, about the same time he runs out of money, "but when he had spent all," - he's completely exhausted everything - "there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want." - He begins to really suffer. He's lost all of his earthly resources, everything's gone, and he's experiencing severe privation and hardship. And so, now he's forced to actually work. And he goes and he "joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine." Now, just - I think most of us know that Jesus, being Jewish, he's talking to a Jewish audience - the lowest animal for a jew was a pig. That's why Jesus said, 'the pig that is washed is returned to wallowing in the mire' and 'you do not give that which is holy to the dogs' and 'don't give that which is holy to the swine' and so the idea that you would have to feed pigs - the demons entered a herd of pigs and there's just this association in the Jewish mind it was considered unclean and scavengers.

And he's out there. He's gone to a far country where they don't follow this and he's gone to the very lowest profession. Have any of you ever driven by a pig yard? Have any of you ever fed pigs? We had a neighbor that had pigs and, this is something of a conundrum for adventists, and every now and then they would leave. They'd say, 'can you watch over our ranch while we're gone?' And we would milk their cows and their goats and feed their pigs - chickens too - and whew! You know, I could never find a better word to describe it except to tell you that pigs are pigs. Their word has become the best label because - and they smell.

It is just a rank smell. They seem to enjoy it. And he's out there and he's not only feeding the pigs but, the Bible says that he is so hungry that the pods - the husks - that he's feeding the pigs, are looking appetizing to him. You get hungry enough and even pig food starts looking good. And so, he's - while he's there and he's starting to - having daydreams about stealing the food from the pigs, it goes on to say, "and no man gave him anything.

" So he's, you know, maybe panhandling. He's trying to get something and no one's giving him anything. No one will give him any help. He finally comes to his senses - "but when he came to himself," - verse 17 - "he said, 'how many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare," - they eat to the full. When Jesus fed people, were there leftovers? When he multiplied bread, were there leftovers? Notice he doesn't number his father's servants.

He doesn't say, 'my father's got six servants.' His father, evidently, has a lot of servants. He says there's so many of them. His father is wealthy. He says, 'they all eat to the full. The servants eat better than I'm eating.

' He's thinking, you know, I've got it pretty good.' Do we have it pretty good? Have you ever been really hungry? I don't mean hungry because you're fasting for a day or two. You always know you can bring that to an end whenever you want. Have you ever been hungry and not had anything to eat and there's no prospects close by? That's pretty tough. And you start appreciating, when you pray for your food, it's not just a ritual, but when you pray for your food you're really thankful that you have all you can eat. And so he's thinking - he comes to himself and he starts daydreaming about the hot bread that his mom would pull out of the oven and how he'd slather it with honey and whatever else they had back then and that he was eating to the full.

And he thinks, I thought I had it so bad. I couldn't wait to get away from home, now look at me. Feeding pigs - he comes to himself. You know, this is describing some who have grown up in the church - we always talk about the prodigal - they know the Lord, they know The Father, they know where The Father lives and they're just out in the world. They're thinking it would be better away from The Father's house and out in the world, and for a while, evidently, they enjoy it.

If sin had no attraction, people would never leave God or the church. But the Bible says there are pleasures of sin. Moses refused the pleasures of sin for a season. You notice it doesn't lastlong. And so some people say, 'you know, being a Christian is hard.

You can't do this and you can't do that and, oh man, my father's so strict. I'm going to go as far from my father as I can so I'm just going to have a good time. But I need my father's things. I don't want my father but I want his resources.' You know, the health that we have - the strength that we have in order to sin with enthusiasm comes from God. And people who are lost will pray for strength so they can enjoy sin.

They'll ask God to give them health so they can enjoy their sin better. They ask for the blessings of The Father but they don't want The Father. You know what I'm saying? So but now he's beginning to think, 'maybe I need my father. Maybe it's a package deal.' He came to himself. He said, "how many of my father's hired servants have bread enough to spare?" 'Here I'm a son! His hired servants are doing better.

I am perishing.' Notice the word 'perishing' - God so loved the world, that we might not perish, his son was given. "I will arise" - like the Word of God comes to Jonah and says, 'arise.' "I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, 'father,'" - now you've got two things that are happening here. First, when he comes to himself, he's repenting. When he says, 'I will say to my father' - he's confessing. Two very important things you don't hear very much about in the conversion experience these days.

A lot of churches, basically, tell people to just come and say this 60-second prayer - or less - but the Bible teaches there should be an attitude of repentance and there should be deliberate and conscious confession that is made to God. We ought to be aware of what our sins are, as the Holy Spirit reveals them to us, and confess them toGod. So he's coming home, he's repenting and he's confessing and he is coming. Now there's a lot of verses that connect with this. He says, 'I will go to my father.

' - He rehearses his speech - I'll say, "father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am'" - there are two categories - God and man - love the Lord and love your neighbor - he says, 'I've sinned against both.' - "And I am no longer worthy" - what is it that makes us worthy to receive Christ's forgiveness. You know what makes us worthy? Being aware that we're not worthy. We have nothing to plead. The greatest thing we can plead is our desperate need. But we can't plead our worthiness and this is what the son is doing.

And this is a parable of Jesus. He's saying, 'you've got to come back and say 'I'm not worthy.'' So it's not our worth, it's his love. "I will arise and go to my father...i am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.'' You're not really prepared to be a son until you're prepared to be a servant. You know, Jesus said, 'I am among you as one who serves and if you're going to follow me, that's your model.

' So he arose and he came to his father. But notice what happens - verse 2o - I'm in Luke 15, verse 20 - "but when he was still a great way off," - he's coming from a far country - "his father saw him" - how'd that happen? He's scanning the horizon with binoculars, symbolically. What is The Father thinking about all the time his son is gone? He's thinking, 'I let all of that money go down the road. I should never have done that.' Is he thinking about the money that's lost? Is he thinking about 'that good for nothing - I raised him and took care of him all those years - watched over him - tried to teach him and he just - he basically rejects me and everything I've taught him.' Or is he just wanting his son back? He's wanting The Son - the relationship - "but when he was a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion," - his heart was moved - "and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him." How many of you remember the story when Jacob was reunited with esau - and later Joseph - but with esau, these brothers had not seen each other and esau had every right to be very upset at Jacob because of what he had done to steal from him. And it looked like, for a while, esau was going to get even, but when Jacob kept sending gifts ahead, esau's heart was melted.

When he finally saw his brother he ran and he fell on his neck and he kissed him. You know, as soon as The Father saw The Son coming, he ran to him. The Bible says, in James chapter 4, 'draw near to God and he will draw near to you.' That is a wonderful promise. I don't hear people use that very often, but it is a wonderful promise. That means any effort or step that you make to draw near to God, he compensates with a corresponding effort to draw near to you.

Amen. So if you think, 'oh man, I've got a mile to get to God.' No you don't. You've only got half a mile because as soon as he sees you coming he comes to meet you. He will do everything he can to make the distance between you and him shorter. And while he was a great way off, The Father ran to him.

And he's been looking for him. The boy is - he's got, you know, he's weary - long journey - he's dragging down the road. His father sees him coming, he runs to meet his son. And so there was this great reunion of The Father and The Son. He's clinging to his son and his son begins to choke out his repentance and he said, "father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.

" And that's all he needs to say. The Father doesn't say 'draw near to God, he'll draw near to you.' He doesn't even get to finish his prayer of repentance. The Father interrupts and he says, "bring out the best robe and put it on him," - why? To cover up - this is justification, friends. He covers his sin with the best robe - The Father's robe - "and put a ring on his hand" - it has nothing to do with the dress message, that has to do with the same thing that happened when Joseph was given authority, the pharaoh put a ring on him - that was a seal - it was a tool representing that you are now a member of the family, you are not a servant, you are a son. You have authority in the family - "and sandals on his feet.

And bring the fatted calf here and kill it," - they saved this for feasts and special occasions. By the way, everybody's rejoicing now except for the older brother and the calf because there was a sacrifice - for the boy to be reinstated required a sacrifice - and for you and I to be reinstated requires a sacrifice and Jesus was sacrificed. And he said, "'for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry." All the servants are happy. There's rejoicing in heaven, Jesus said. Everyone's happy except the older brother who's in the field.

He's out working. "And as he came and drew near to the house," - notice, the brother's working and The Father's watching. The Father's watching for The Son; the brother's working for the farm - kind of like mary and Martha. "And drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing." - And he thought, 'that's not allowed' - "so he called one of the servants" - he wouldn't even go in and find out for himself - he said, 'what's going on?' They said, "your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf." That kind of said the whole thing: there's been - being a sacrifice - there's being a party - a feast - "but he was angry and would not go in." A servant went in and told the father - "therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, 'lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.

But as soon as this son of yours came," - it doesn't say, 'my brother' - he's like, 'look, I'm not responsible for him, you are.' - "But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.' And he said to him, 'son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.'" - Now, you notice how this parable begins? It says, 'The Father divided to them his inheritance.' The same time the younger son got his, the older brother got his. He said, 'you own the fatted calf. You own the farm. It's all yours.' So The Father says, 'all that I have is yours. I gave it to you.

' But he didn't really believe it or he could have had a party. He said, 'you could have done this any time you wanted. See, the older brother was works oriented. The younger brother was in need of grace. The Father loved them both.

This is just a great story. Now, if I were to draw some - well, let me finish it up here - The Father says, in verse 32 - well, he says, "and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.'" You've got to see it through God's perspective. So, what does this tell us? First of all, it tells us that The Father is willing to sacrifice everything to have us saved. Couldn't The Father have lectured the boy and said, 'here you come.

I knew eventually you'd come dragging back. Where's your money? All that money I gave you, what'd you do with it? Ha! Sure enough, I told you so.' The Father could have folded his arms and put his hands on his hips and tapped his foot and looked down on his son. Does The Son already know that he's sinned? You know, one of the worst things you can say to somebody - a prodigal family member and a prodigal son - if they've been away and they come back, 'where have you been? Oh, I heard that you were out.' You embrace people when they come back. Best thing you can do is just embrace them and say, 'we are so glad to see you here.' Amen. 'We are so glad that you're here.

' I met with somebody this week that was disfellowshipped many years ago and - angry, bitter - I pled with them. 'I'm not going back, everybody knows. What will they think?' And I said, 'they'll be so glad. You just come back.' 'But I'm not a member.' I said, 'it doesn't matter.' I said, 'you just come back.' And I did everything I could to just reassure them that people would rejoice to see them come back - family would rejoice to see them come back. People, sometimes, would prefer to stay out there in the pigpen - it doesn't make any sense at all.

The one who is the younger son, he could also, sort of, the older son, he kind of represents the jews. You remember the jews were really going to be upset that here they'd worked all these years. They'd stayed with the farm, so to speak, and the gentiles, who left at the tower of babel, they've been out there, you know, worshiping pagan Gods. All of a sudden for them to be given all the privileges of jehovah that the jews have been guardians of the truth, that just didn't seem fair. You know how many parables Jesus told that were like that? Like the one who showed up in the vineyard after - in the 11th hour - and the ones who were there all day long working, they said, 'how dare you pay them as much as us? We've worked through the heat of the day.

' And so there was a real struggle for the nation of Israel when God said to the gentiles, 'you are going to have equal access to all of the privileges of God and salvation as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.' They said, 'what? We're first. What do you mean? We did all this work. We've gone through all these struggles.' And so Jesus told a number of parables to illustrate that. This one could also be understood that way. We're out of time, friends.

We do have a free offer we'd like to tell you about, it's called the high cost of the cross. We'll send it to you just for asking, or you can call -788-3966 and ask for offer #156. You can download it for free on the internet. Thank you so much for studying with us and we'll look forward to studying with you again next week. Amazing Facts changed lives.

You know, we grew up in a neighborhood up in the midwest that was a pretty bad neighborhood. And when I became a teenager I started using drugs. I was on - I started using meth when I was like, I think, sixteen - fifteen - something like that. I was having some problems in my life I really didn't know how to deal with. The only thing I really knew was violence so this night here I was going to inflict violence on myself.

I was really high and really depressed so I took - you know, I had this .40 caliber. So I remember I put one in the chamber and I stuck it to the side of my head like this and that gun had a hair trigger, you know? I remember I was tapping it 'cause a part of me said, 'no, I don't want to do this.' But there was something very evil present there saying, 'do it.' I just said to myself, I said, 'God, if you're real show yourself to me.' My mother took me to church when I was a little kid and we used to sing Jesus loves me and I remembered that song. It started playing in my mind. And I almost had like a vision of me as a little kid, you know, in Sabbath school we used to bang those sticks together and sing Jesus loves me and I heard that in my mind. So I said, 'wow.

' So I just kind of like put the gun down and I kind of fell on my bedside there and I said, 'Lord' - I just basically prayed this crazy prayer - I says - I told him everything that was wrong with me. And I remember one day I was driving around, I kind of felt lost, and I drove by this church and I seen tom out there. Tom was just out there watering the flowers, you know? It's like I caught a vision out of the side of my eye. This big, husky guy with tattoos walking up and saying 'hello' and I said - so I asked if I could help him and he told me that he drives by the church on occasion and every time he goes by he's thinking that he should stop in. After he showed me around the church, you know, I was like, 'okay, man, it's nice meeting you' and this and that.

So I jumped in my car and I started heading down the driveway and the next thing you know, in like my peripheral vision, I see him coming around the corner like jerry rice running a football - no, not that fast, but you know, he was taking off after me and he says, 'hey, hey, hey, hold on.' I asked him if he would like to have some Bible studies and he said, 'yeah.' He would come by the house. We'd all start - we'd start hiding the beer cans and trying to air out the weed smell. There was a presence that came with tom that was comforting, you know what I mean? Even though I wasn't taking the Bible studies as seriously as I should have, looking back, there was just a presence about him being there in the house that was comforting. I told tom, I said, 'tom, you know you can't win everybody.' I looked at him and I knew. I said to him, 'reuben, I never get anybody.

' I says, 'the holy spirit will do that.' And I kind of in my heart knew that the Holy Spirit was going to work on reuben. So then tom kind of left the picture for awhile. And then, I think, one day at my mother's house they were watching the final events in Bible prophecy. So I watched that and I remember the scene where they had the hellfire and stuff - you know, they were outside the city and it showed the hellfire coming down and burning people and stuff and I remember saying to myself, 'that's where I would be, right there.' After the hellfire scene I saw the saints in the city and the new Jerusalem and Jesus recreating the earth and I said, 'I want that to be my - me and my family.' There was something about the way doug preached and things that I felt that touched me. Because he's kind of like myself, you know, he's - he didn't grow up like that, you know, he - he done drugs and things so I kind of found these common grounds that I had with him and I liked how he just kind of like kept it real with his preaching.

And then pastor rodley came to the church and I got to know him very well and we started doing some finishing studies. He wanted to make sure I understand what I was doing and things and baptized me. My wife, my brother. No matter what you've done, where you come from, where you've been, no matter how bad of a sinner you think you are, the Lord Jesus loves you no matter what you've done. Friends, it's because of God's blessing and your support, thousands of others, just like reuben, have found Jesus and eternal life.

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