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Luke 15:20-24

The Father's Pursuit

  • Mike Dodd
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • September 29, 2019
  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture



• “What is God’s heart towards us?”
• Many people are convinced that God is angry with them and He is standing up there with a lightning bolt in His clinched fist ready to strike in His anger and might upon the first mistake! Even those of us who have received Jesus can still yet find ourselves having this perspective of God.
• One of the greatest pictures we see in Scripture which tells of the Father’s heart towards us is in the story of a prodigal son where we see how the father responds when he sees his son return.

I. The Father Pursues Us with His Love!
A. At the beginning of Luke chapter 15, Luke tells us that there were a lot of sinners that were coming near to listen to Jesus. But the Jewish leaders, the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble about what they saw and said, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
B. What Luke is pointing out to us is that Jesus ate with sinners who were well known for their sin. They did not even pretend to be righteous like the Pharisees, they were just straight up sinners and Jesus ate with them!
C. It is important to note that this accusation they made towards Jesus was huge because eating together, for the Hebrews, was very significant! It was a picture of commonality, or communion, or oneness of relationship.

ILLUS: This begs to question, “Why would Jesus eat with sinners?” This is such an important point that Jesus gives three parables that people could relate to, one after the other, to give an answer to this question. These parables have everything to do with the Father’s heart and love towards us in that He came to seek and save that which was lost!

1. The first parable is about a shepherd who has 100 sheep and one of them is lost. “Does he not leave the 99 and go after the one which is lost?” Jesus asked.
2. The second is a parable about a woman who has 10 silver coins and one is lost. “Does she not search carefully until she finds it?”
3. Notice that there are two parts to these parables and both parts reveal God’s heart. The first is the SEEKING; the second part is the FINDING!
4. We see this also play out in the next parable in Verses 20-24 of Luke chapter 15.

D. Luke 15:20-24
1. Jesus here gives one of the most famous parables, the parable of a prodigal son.
a. This parable is so powerful and important to understand because it’s all about the Father’s heart!
b. Yes, it is about a prodigal son who sins, but it is all about the Father. If we could all be convinced of the Father’s heart for each of us!
c. It’s in this passage we see that:
i. The son came to his senses when he finally came to the end of himself.
 He realized that even the servants in his father’s house are blessed.
ii. He had squandered everything and then a severe famine hit the land and he began to be in need.
iii. God will allow difficulties in our lives so that we will come to our senses and that’s the point where we wake up and realize what we had been blind to.

2. Verse-By-Verse of Luke 15:
a. God the Initiator
i. Vs. 20 – ”20 So he got up and came to [a]his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and [b]embraced him and kissed him.”
 We see the father looking and longing for his son, waiting for him, waiting for his son to return and the Father does the same for us.
 We see here that GOD IS THE INITIATOR in that He is the One who is looking for us, longing for us, and waiting for us to return to be restored to Him when we drift off!
ii. In Genesis 3 we also see that God initiated as he was seeking to engage with Adam and Eve after they fell into sin, to draw them to Himself, so they might return to Him!
 God Himself asked the question of Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” when He already knew what they had done!
 He wasn’t asking them where they were geographically, He was asking them where they were in their hearts.
 Adam and Eve had to be thinking at that moment, ”What have we done?”

ILLUS: Marc punting the football!

iii. Another Scripture expressing the Father’s heart as initiator is seen in Isaiah 65:2 – “All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations.”
iv. We also see God initiating in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.” Again, God the Father initiated by GIVING His Son to us!

b. It’s also important to note in V.20 that when the father received/accepted his son, there was no tension or awkwardness towards his son even though his son blew it. There was only a heart of celebration that his son had come home!


i. TRUST to take a step back to God…you will not know what could have been if you don’t step out and trust that He will forgive you and take you back!
ii. HE does not reject…He accepts you and He is for you!!

3. Vs. 21 – “21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’”
a. The son was repentant and asked for forgiveness. The son owned it. We, too, must own our own mistakes!
i. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
ii. Confess – To agree with God…that what He calls wrong is wrong.
iii. This is key…When we have a heart-felt sorrow for our sin, the Father is faithful to forgive.

b. NOTE: Notice what we do not see in the passage:
i. We don’t see that the father rubbed his son’s face in his mistakes
ii. We don’t see the father telling his son, “I told you so!” OR “What were you thinking?”
iii. Often, we are already thinking this for ourselves.
 NO, we don’t see any of those things. Again, we see that the father RAN to his son as soon as he spotted him from a distance, embraced him and kissed him!

4. Vs. 22 – “22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet;”
a. Best Robe – Literally meaning the “first robe” It was the highest in value, the most prominent robe in the house. This would be something that royalty would wear, reserved for a king!
i. We have been clothed with the righteousness of Christ, no longer uncovered in our sin (Isaiah 61:10)
b. Ring – He was not simply a hired servant. He would, once again, be part of the family.
i. Eph 1:14-15 also speaks of the inheritance we have in Christ Jesus since we are members of the family of God.
c. Sandals – Slaves did not wear sandals. Only a free man would wear sandals, demonstrating that he was not simply going to be accepted as a slave, but as a son.
i. 1 John 3:1 “See [a]how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God;”

5. Vs. 23 – “and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;
a. Fattened calf – kept fattened for a special occasion and celebration. ”
i. The father celebrates over us!
ii. He loves his people and those who are made in His image!
iii. So, whenever we think that the Father is finished with us, we always have the hope that we see here in this parable!

a. Earlier I asked the question, ”How much does God love YOU?”
i. John 17: 21-23 “21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
ii. The Answer to the question, “How much does God the Father love you? HE LOVES YOU AS MUCH AS HE LOVES JESUS! Yes, Jesus, Who was without sin!
b. LAST, I ask the question that God asked Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, ”WHERE ARE YOU?”
i. HE IS waiting to embrace you right now, for the first time or once again!
ii. Though you may still be wondering, ”This seems too good to be true. How much can He really love me after all that I have done?”
 Let me remind you that the Father loves you AS MUCH AS HE LOVES JESUS! (John 17:21-23)

Luke 15:20-24 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
20 So he got up and came to [a]his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and [b]embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.


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