I preached a version of the following message, “Kissed Me Much!” at Cedar Christian Reformed Church in Cedar on Sunday, May 24, 2015 and at The Good News Chapel in Oskaloosa on Sunday, May 31, 2015. If you would like to read the content of my message on God’s extravagant love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness, please read on.
“Kissed Him Much!”
By Dr. Bob Stouffer
[Title taken, in part, from The Rev. Charles Spurgeon’s Sermon No. 2236, Preached on December 27, 1891]
Reading of the Text:
The context of the parables in Luke 15: Looking for, finding, and restoring that which is lost.
The three parables are Jesus’ response to the Pharisees criticizing him for keeping the company of sinners.
God actively seeks out whatever or whoever is lost.
One lost coin (of 10)
One lost sheep (of 100)
One lost man (of 1)
Each human being has great value in the eyes of the Lord.
Prodigal — “extravagant”
The Prodigal God, by Tim Keller
The younger son is the “irreligious” son.
He asked for his third of the father’s current wealth. (Two-thirds were due to the older brother.)
In asking for his inheritance, he is essentially saying, “You are dead to me!”
What father would give the inheritance to a son in this situation?! I know my Dad wouldn’t grant me such money!
The son quickly finds that, apart from God, there is no hope.
The son finally thinks more about his father than his own need.
The younger son is willing to give up his rights as son to be a servant to his father — true repentance — since he rehearsed AND eventually delivered this same statement to his father.
He was willing to become a slave to righteousness.
He was going to offer himself as a living sacrifice to the father.
The father saw the son.
God saw the son. God sees us.
He RAN TO his son.
The younger son took responsibility for his sin! Isn’t that refreshing?! We live in an age of non-accountability. Our apologies are non-apologies, i.e., “I’m sorry if I offended you.”
The father hiked-up his robe, exposed his legs, and ran to his son!
He embraced his son, even though the boy must have stunk to high heaven from pig manure!
Famed 19th Century British Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon commented that the father “kissed him much.”
How could the father have acted upon his son’s return?
Yet the father accepted his son’s sacrifice!
The father gives what the son does not deserve (grace); and, (in mercy), the father withholds that which the son did deserve (judgment).
THAT is “Amazing Grace”!
And the father lavishes his younger son with gifts!
The father places the ring of sonship on his son’s finger!
The father fits his son’s feet with the Gospel of peace!
The father drapes the robe of dignity, honor, and acceptance around his son!
The father kills the sumptuous fatted calf for a grand celebration!
His son was lost, but now he’s found!
Everyone is celebrating – everyone but one.
The father found that his older son is also a “prodigal.”
His older son was extravagantly legalistic. Pharisaical.
If the younger son was “irreligious,” the older son was “religious.”
The older son was outwardly righteous, but inwardly abominable.
“I am a slave” for you, he said to his father.
Apart from Christ, he was a slave to his own righteousness.
From God’s perspective, the older brother was as overly proud as his younger brother was overly humble.
His was an attitude of entitlement and narcissism. “It’s all about me. You owe me,” he was essentially saying to the father.
That’s a modern phenomenon now, isn’t it?!
But the father loved his son. He went to the son. He called him “child,” a term of endearment in the culture.
The father pleaded for the older son to “come in.” Did he? NO!!
The Pharisees never did “come in.”
This son might have been physically present, but he was “lost.”
If a man abides in Christ, he will bear much fruit; apart from Christ, we can do NOTHING.
How does the story end? Brilliantly, Christ doesn’t allow the story to end. He puts the dilemma at our feet, and we must choose ourselves. Wisely or unwisely? Such is our choice.
Did the younger son remain repentant and grateful for his father’s grace? We hope so, but such is no guarantee.
We must welcome repentant sinners back into fellowship!
When we are truthful with ourselves, we must say that we all have a bit of the prodigal sons in us from time-to-time — one moment, unrepentant in our declaration of independence from God — the other moment, unrepentant in our self-righteousness; we declare, “Thank God I am not as sinful as that man or woman!”
Regarding The Parable of the Prodigal Son. . .
. . .I have a testimony of God’s grace!
“I can’t believe I still love you!”
Hannah’s mother was pregnant at 14 and delivered Hannah at 15.
Hannah was. . .
She was extremely disobedient as a child,
Spanking didn’t help.
She slammed her bedroom door repeatedly (until I removed the door)!
She was beyond rebellious in junior high.
She snuck out of the house on multiple occasions (until we nailed her bedroom window shut)!
Hannah was asked to withdraw from my Christian school!
She was physically combative with Cheryl. . . .
She was verbally abusive and vulgar. . . . One day, she screamed obscenities at me, and said “I’m not the goodie-two-shoes Christian girl you think I am. . . .”
It was SPIRITUAL BATTLE!
I read the book, Daughters Gone Wild, Dads Gone Crazy, twice during these trying years!
What changed everything?
In humility, I came to the Lord daily in prayer.
I was forced to ask myself, “With Hannah, how was I like/unlike the father in this parable of the prodigals”? In my case, the FATHER became repentant. . . .
I came to the end of myself and my “power,” and I gave the situation COMPLETELY to God.
I quit yelling at my daughter. My prior anger had only legitimized her angry responses; she no doubt thought, “If Dad solves his problems with yelling, I can yell back as well.”
I don’t know what I would have done without the many men and women who surrounded Cheryl and me.
I will never forget my lunchtime prayer with Kirt Eldredge in the Clive Panera Bread. . . .
I wrote letters to Hannah. . . .<Here> are the binders I hope to one day turn into a book of encouragement to the parents of other prodigals.
God did a work in her heart. She came to her senses, just as the prodigal son had come to his right mind.
Hannah turned to God. It was a spiritual turnaround!
She experienced success in mentoring special needs students in her school.
She experienced success in track! <Des Moines Register article and photograph> What a Saturday of her junior season – three state championships and a second place finish! Ironically, she became her most humble in the arena of her greatest competence!
But the roller coaster ride wasn’t over completely.
In August before her senior year of high school, Hannah came to her mother, sobbing. Hannah was pregnant.
We were devastated.
A Division-I track scholarship probably became unrealistic.
But I didn’t think about track more than a day.
Instead, I thought of the pride I had in my daughter. She chose life for her baby, even though the birth father was advocating for abortion.
She took good care of herself and her baby, as she determined whether she would keep the baby or choose adoption.
Hannah found out she would be delivering a girl, and she was able to process the agony her own birth mother had gone through at 15 years of age.
She chose to keep Gracelynn!
She chose to graduate early and begin working during second semester of her senior year of high school.
She enrolled in classes at DMACC.
She transferred after a semester to Grand View. She re-started her track career and was named the conference indoor track and field athlete of the year as a freshman! She qualified for nationals during the outdoor season!
She kept working at Boys and Girls Club of America. . . .
She took on a part-time position with Young Lives. . . .
She figured out a way to finish school in three years and two summers.
She won a $3,800 scholarship this month for an essay she wrote!
She has a wonderful boyfriend who loves Gracelynn – Kenny Simmons is a triple-jumper! He finished 2nd in the nation during the Memorial Day weekend!
We believe Hannah will be entering the work world in the fall of 2016 as a DEGREED social worker or juvenile court officer!
THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE WHEN GOD IS INVOLVED!
I have given a father’s perspective on a prodigal child.
If you want my wife’s perspective, I do have copies of the book Cheryl wrote on the subject:
Forever, For Always, and No Matter What
Cheryl displays Hannah’s handwritten note on her bathroom mirror: “Thank you for not walking out on me.”
During her greatest trials with Hannah, Cheryl also reminded herself of truth from Isaiah 43:1-3, which is also prominently affixed to that same mirror:
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you: And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
I like to think that the father of the prodigal son contemplated this same passage when praying for the safe return of his son!
Are you dealing with a prodigal right now?
You are not alone, if you are dealing with a prodigal child.
Are YOU a prodigal?
Take the initiative, act, and run back to your heavenly Father.
He will show you mercy and grace. He will forgive you. He will love you.
In closing, I would like to tell the Story of Paco, a story I hope is true.
Ernest Hemingway once wrote a short story called “The Capital of the World.” In it, he told the story of a father and his teenage son who were estranged from one another. The son’s name was Paco. He had wronged his father. As a result, in his shame, he had run away from home.
In the story, the father searched all over Spain for Paco, but still he could not find the boy. Finally, in the city of Madrid, in a last desperate attempt to find his son, the father placed an ad in the daily newspaper. The ad read: “PACO, MEET ME AT THE HOTEL MONTANA. NOON TUESDAY. ALL IS FORGIVEN. PAPA.”
The father in Hemingway’s story prayed that the boy would see the ad; and then maybe, just maybe, he would come to the Hotel Montana. On Tuesday, at noon, the father arrived at the hotel. When he did, he could not believe his eyes.
An entire squadron of police officers had been called out in an attempt to keep order among eight hundred young boys. It turned out that each one of them was named Paco. And each one of them had come to meet his respective father and find forgiveness in front of the Hotel Montana.
Eight hundred boys named Paco had read the ad in the newspaper and had hoped it was for them. Eight hundred Pacos had come to receive the forgiveness they so desperately desired.
This beautiful story illustrates the great truth that Jesus was driving at in His famed Parable of the Prodigal Son. Just as there are many, many Pacos in Hemingway’s story, so there are innumerable prodigals in the world.
In truth, all of us are prodigals. All of us have run away from God. “All of us,” as the Scriptures say, “like sheep, have gone astray.” (Isaiah 53:6)
Fortunately, God has not given up on us. Persistently and indefatigably, He searches for us. He never gives up on us. He longs day and night for us to come home. And if and when we do, He is overjoyed. He loves us. He forgives us. He restores us. He fêtes us.
I hope you have come home to the Father. I hope you know the peace and joy that comes with having been forgiven by God. If not, my friend, the Father’s invitation to come home still stands. Even now, He is waiting for you. (Jackson)
Let’s pray. . . .
Guzik, David. “Commentaries on Luke.”
The Holy Bible. English Standard Version. 2001.
Jackson, Cleo E. “All Is Forgiven,” March 7, 2011, http://www.cleoejacksoniii.com/my-ongoing-thoughts/all-is-forgiven
Spurgeon, Charles. Sermon No. 2236. Preached on March 29, 1891
Stone, Charles. Daughters Gone Wild, Dads Gone Crazy: Battle-Tested Tips from a Father and Daughter Who Survived the Teenage Years. 2005.