February 13, 2020

The Undeserving and the Entitled

Luke 15:11–32

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The Parable of the Prodigal Son

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to1 one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’2 22 But the father said to his servants,3 ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

Footnotes

[1] 15:15 Greek joined himself to
[2] 15:21 Some manuscripts add treat me as one of your hired servants
[3] 15:22 Or bondservants

The Undeserving and the Entitled



Key Verse | Luke 15:29-30

"[B]ut he answered his father, 'Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!'" 

Bio | Michael Powell

Howdy! My name is Michael Powell, and by God's grace I am a Fightin' Texas Aggie, Class of 2014! Gig 'Em! Some fun facts about me: I serve in Wake, Watermark's ministry to sixth–eighth graders, and I am currently in the Watermark Institute as a Men's Community Fellow at Watermark Fort Worth. I met my beautiful wife at the first Fort Worth Unashamed evangelism event in September 2016. I am constantly reminded of my brokenness and need for Christ, and I am daily thankful for His provision of community in my life.

Central Truth

We are undeserving of God's kindness toward us. He doesn't owe us anything. Our goodness does not earn His favor. And our brokenness does not mean we are too far gone to return to Him. The love and grace of Christ is enough.

Devotional | Luke 15:11–32

In this parable, we see two different perspectives. We see the younger son, who tried to find life in partying, money, and feeding his flesh. He was left feeling empty and ashamed, believing he was too...

In this parable, we see two different perspectives. We see the younger son, who tried to find life in partying, money, and feeding his flesh. He was left feeling empty and ashamed, believing he was too far gone to be accepted by his father again. In contrast, the older son lived faithfully and worked hard for his father, but he grew up with a self-righteous view of himself. He felt entitled to the father's favor because of his good deeds.

When I look back on my life, I can relate to both sons. Like the younger son, I often "squandered" my life in "reckless living."  A big part of my story was my 13-year addiction to pornography and living my life to win the approval of others. For 25 years, I looked for life in things apart from God and found myself empty, ashamed, and in desperate need of a Savior. The Lord miraculously freed me of my addiction and undeservedly redeemed me from the pit of my sin (Psalm 103:2-5) by His kindness alone (Ephesians 2:4-5). Like the younger son, I did absolutely nothing to deserve the kindness I have received from the Lord, but I did have to make a decision to trust in Christ and to follow and surrender to Him.

After following Christ for the past three years, I am facing a new challenge. At times, I can find myself feeling entitled. I buy the lie that I am entitled to comfort and recognition or that I deserve to check out when I get home from a long day, as if I've earned it.

The truth is, we are not entitled to anything, and this is an issue of the deceitful human heart (Jeremiah 17:9). If anyone could have chosen to be entitled, it was Jesus Christ, but He never did. He lived a perfect life, willingly bore our sins on the cross, and died for us so that we can live eternally with God. I implore you to surrender your life to Him and live in His purpose for you. That is where life is truly found.

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Discussion Questions

1. Which of the two sons do you most relate to and why?

2. In what areas of your life do you feel entitled and why?

3. How has God proven to be a loving Father to you?

4. Are there people in your life who feel like they are too far gone to know Christ? How can you share the love of Christ with them? (Romans 8:38-39)

11 Comments available

michael mcgowen 6 months ago

I’m definitely like both, I’m the biggest complainer in the world like I’m entitled to it all asking for everything and expecting it, trying to put the blame on everyone as if you went out for the night and left us with a babysitter and we are trying to get away with everything but you are coming home aren’t you, I mean you wouldn’t leave us here with the babysitter that is probably only here for the money and to eat all the food in the fridge lol god in heaven if I could control myself and be perfect like you I’m sure I’d have a way better understanding, I act like I’ve got this peripheral view of you but your the one on the throne, I snap out of it when I’m reminded of sin and I definitely come running and begging, your the master

Michael Scaman 6 months ago

Alister Begg says the three ‘lost’ parables show different aspects of man’s lostness. The coin could not ‘unlost’ itself, it was unable. The sheep wander by nature and get lost by their own nature. The son was lost because of his will. Lack of ability to be saved, a fallen nature and willfully sinning are all aspects of our lostness.

John MacAurther adds that the father takes the shame of the younger son on himself, running in an undignified way to the son and bringing him back into the family with a part for the whole village, publicly restoring him.

The young son at his worse still addressed his father as Father. The older actually says ‘look!’ at the end like 'look you!" not saying Father and refused to come to the party

greg jones 6 months ago

Amy Jill Levine, New Testament Professor at Duke divinity teaches that Jesus original hearers of the prodigal parable would not have heard a story repentance and forgiveness. Not that those are bad interpretations for us today she claims the ordinal Jewish hearers would have picked up on the counting and searching themes in the Shepard and Coin parables and viewed the third of three parables from that perspective.

The story is about a father and two sons, and the family reconciled. The shock to the system would have been the younger son being considering the stories Cain /Abel Isaac/Esau and the rest.

Don’t have a link but you can google Pete Enns Anna Jill Levine for a pod cast interview.

Trey Collins 6 months ago

Hi Michael, great devo! I too can relate to both sons at different times. Grateful to have a loving father who forgives me regardless, and welcomes me home. Praying for us this morning to have hearts more like Christ!

Zoe Gonzales 6 months ago

Thank you Michael!

Linda Green 6 months ago

Thank you, Michael, for pointing us to our Good Father! Love the story Jesus told; I’ve been like both brothers. Both were dearly loved by their Father, but broken, sinful, humbled, yet forgiven is the best- Romans 5:20b. Loved question 4- and for me not to regard them as too far gone! Jesus’ forgiveness and restoration is not limited by the amount of our sin.

Sue Bohlin 6 months ago

Thanks, Michael.

This is my favorite parable for what it shows us of the Father’s heart. I saw something new today that delights me. The repentant son, overwhelmed by shame, intends to ask only to be treated as a day laborer, but his dad cut him off before he could get to that part of his speech. His shame was undone by how his father showered him with honor, which is the opposite of shame: the best robe, a ring on his hand, shoes on his feet, and a feast with the fatted calf.

I love that this shows us not only the Father’s compassion, but also how His heart is to blast our shame to smithereens with honor because we are so very loved and He is so very gracious.

Hugh Stephenson 6 months ago

Come on home Home to me And I will hold you in my arms And joyful be

There will always, always be A place for you at my table A place for you at my table A place for you at my table Return to me

Hugh Stephenson 6 months ago

Wondering where I might begin I hear a voice upon the wind She’s singing faint but singing true “Son, there ain’t nothing you can do But listen close and follow me I’ll take you where you’re meant to be Just don’t lose faith.”

So I put my hand upon the plow Wipe the sweat up from my brow Plant the good seed along the way As I look forward to the day

When at last I’ll see My father run to me singing, “Oh, my child." Come on home Home to me And I will hold you in my arms And joyful be There will always, always be A place for you At my table Return to me

Hugh Stephenson 6 months ago

1958-2012 as an unrepentant prodigal strikes me mute.

2013-2020 God’s Word, God’s Spirit and God’s people who loved me enough to tell me the truth.

Josh Garrels sings today’s passage as only he can.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8uhKMeAfhg

I went the ways of wayward winds In a world of trouble and sin Walked along a crooked mile Behind a million rank and file Forgot where I came from Somewhere back when I was young I was a good man’s child ‘

Cause I lost some nameless things My innocence flew away from me She had to hide her face from my desire to embrace forbidden fire

But at night I dreamed she’s singing over me Oh oh my child Come on home

Home to me And I will hold you in my arms And joyful be There will always Always be A place for you at my table Return to me

Michael Scaman 6 months ago

I like the song ‘the only time I saw him run’ and it was ‘when He ran to me’ by Phillips, Craig and Dean. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx97Jrbrhvw

Angels might rejoice over a lost person turning, but ‘the elder brother’ not so much.

Both the wild child who ran away, openly alienated from family, and the stay at home child lost in plain sight child at times acted more like slaves than being sons of their father, the wild child was surprised by joy of the restoration that was beyond his expectations. The elder child was annoyed by the same, like the Pharisees unable to rejoice over a lost brother ‘coming home’.

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