Freedom to Choose
Intro: Corrie ten Boom: The Hiding Place
She was once asked if it were difficult for her to remain humble. Her reply was simple. “When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on the back of a donkey, and everyone was waving palm branches and throwing garments onto the road, and singing praises, do you think that for one moment it ever entered the head of that donkey that any of that was for him?” She continued, “If I can be the donkey on which Jesus Christ rides in his glory, I give him all the praise and all the honor.”
The story of the prodigal son.
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
An inheritance is typically given after the father dies.
Why would the father do that?
Giving the boy his share of the estate let him choose.
1. Every person is empowered to choose.
…good or evil.
“For you will certainly carry out God's purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Everyone has a role to play. There will be a villain, people who are lost, and people who are saved. Everyone plays a part in the story.
Example: Listening to my uncle explain why we need ditch diggers. “Why would anyone want to be a ditch digger, making the least amount of money, breaking their backs for nothing. Why would they not want to be the boss too?”
He just said, “It’s the way it is. We need those people.”
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
He went to a “distant country” where no one knew him.
“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” …or Mexico or wherever.
…left to his own devices.
no money, famine, began to be in need…
“Pain is the touchstone of spiritual growth.”
Do you think the boy would have come to his senses if the money had held out?
Application: Thank God for the pain in your life or in the life of your loved one…
2. Every choice works toward God’s ultimate purpose.
God is loving.
There is good news in this story.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“When he came to his senses…”
His eyes were opened. The evil he had done became evident to him.
I have sinned against heaven and against you. (sin is sin)
I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ (tarnished the name)
Example: Ever been embarrassed about your own arrogance and ignorance?
Have you come to your senses yet?
3. Nothing penetrates a hard heart like the wages of sin.
God works all things together for good to those who love him. (Even sin)
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (The opposite also works)
How hard was it for the father to leave him to his own devices?
Better than being an “amateur providence”.
Needless to say, the father was happy when the son came back.
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
3rd parable about the lost being found. Lost sheep, coin and son.
“The son of man came to seek and save the lost."
4. God’s ultimate purpose is to seek and save the lost.
And they all lived happily ever after, right?… NO.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.
29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
The older son saw himself as a slave, not a son.
Side note: We see God how we see ourselves.
My love for others might be conditional, but the love of God IS NOT.
There are no degrees of salvation.
this brother of yours was dead and is alive again;
he was lost and is found.
5. All people are equally lost without Jesus.
Maybe this knowledge can help us all be a little more humble this Palm Sunday.
We are all equal.