"He Came to Himself"
"(11) And he said, A certain man had two sons: (12) And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. (13) And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. (14) And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. (15) And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. (16) And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. (17) And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! (18) I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, (19) And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants" (Lk. 15:11-19).
This very familiar story is often called the parable of the prodigal or wasteful son. Not only is the story familiar, but so are the characters. We know the carelessness and foolishness of the younger son, we feel the heartache and longing of the father and we understand the anger and bitterness of the older son. There are many great lessons that can be learned from the powerful parable. But in this lesson I'd like to focus on the turning point in the parable and the life of the prodigal. The first part of this story is a downward spiral and crash. The second half of the story is a strong upward march. It begins as the tragedy of a wasted life of sin and sorrow. It ends as a triumph of righteous repentance, love and joy. Where was the turning point? What made the difference between life and death, between the son being lost and being found and why?
I believe the key is found in verse seventeen. In the depths of his sin, his poverty and his gnawing hunger, as he was out in the fields feeding the hogs, when he thought he could sink no lower, the prodigal suddenly looked up. Jesus said, "And when he came to himself ." Here is the key, the turning point, it is the dramatic shift in this young man's place, position and future. The fact that he "came to himself" (or as some translations read, "he came to his senses") tells us that his thoughts and his deeds did not make sense. They were hurtful and harmful, to not only those around him, but to his own well-being.
Before "he came to himself" he acted without good sense, after "he came to himself" he acted sensibly. Before he was foolish, after he had understanding.Before his actions caused him to be dead and lost, after "he came to himself" he became alive and found.
Folks, more people need to "come to themselves!" They need to come to their senses. They need to meet themselves in honest self appraisal. Perhaps if more people honestly met themselves, looked at themselves, like the prodigal, they wouldn't like what who and what they are and they would change and come home to their loving Father and family. When the prodigal finally "came to himself" what was it that he saw and recognized that moved him to get up and get out of the mud of pig sty of the life he was in?
I. He Recognized His Father's Rich Blessings
A. When the prodigal son "came to himself" he saw and recognized the goodness and blessings of his father's house
1. "How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare " the prodigal suddenly recognized.
2. This was likely the first time in his life he had even thought about his father's goodness.
3. While the son was living in his father's house, he took his father's goodness and blessings for granted. He didn't recognize how good he had it until it was all gone.
4. He had to hit rock bottom, he had to get so hungry before he finally began to appreciate just how great and good his father really was.
5. When he became so poor he was reduced to feeding the hogs and so hungry he looked at the hog feed, dry grain husks, and considered filling his belly with it, he finally came to his senses about what his life had been before!
B. A sinner must "come to himself" and recognize the goodness and blessings of the heavenly father
1. There are many in sin, many unfaithful to the Lord and out of service who have not come to themselves!
2. They have failed to recognize just how great and how good the heavenly father has been.
a. The heavenly Father has "many servants" which are the family of God.
b. The heavenly Father provides all his household with more to spare.
c. The Father provides a sense of belonging, of being a family and of fellowship together among all the servants of God, the great provision of love and joy and peace, of purpose and meaning and significance. The Father provides all this and more to spare.
3. Just as the prodigal did recognize who his good and true family and friends were while he was with his family, there are Christians today who do not truly appreciate just how fortunate and blessed they are by their Father and family.
a. Jesus described who his true family was "(48) But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? (49) And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! (50) For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Mt. 12:48-50).
b. Jesus described those who were true friends, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (Jn. 15:14).
4. There are those, like the prodigal, who get mad at their spiritual family and stomp off mad for some far country.
a. They believe they are gaining their freedom. They think they are independent.
b. All they are doing is acting foolishly and forsaking their Father's goodness and bountiful blessings that are only to be found and enjoyed in the midst of the Father's family.
c. Certainly they will have fair weather friends of the world who will forsake in times of trouble as quickly as they forsook their spiritual family.
5. If only they would "come to themselves," like the prodigal finally did, and recognize who their real friends are, who their real family is.
II. He Recognized His Sorry Situation Was His Own Fault
A. The prodigal's situation was of his own making
1. The younger son had gone to his father and demanded, "Give me my inheritance." Under Jewish law, the father's oldest son was to receive twice as much inheritance as his other sons (Deut. 21:17). Thus, the son of Jesus' parable was asking his father to give him a third of his wealth! A father could distribute his wealth during his lifetime if he wished.
2. It was legal for the younger son to ask for his inheritance and even to sell it before his father had died. But it was not very wise or loving. Asking one's father for his inheritance before his father had died was, in effect, saying to his father, "I wish you were dead!"
3. Clearly the younger son was selfish, rude, unloving, unkind and foolish.
a. He was selfish in that he took no thought of the effect the removal of one third of his father's wealth would have upon his father, his older brother or anyone else. He did not care or concern himself about the needs or feelings of anyone else, only himself.
b. He was rude in demanding of his father, rather than asking. He said, "Give me," not "Please" or "May I have ."
c. He was unloving as he valued things more than people, his inheritance more than his own father, his desires above his family's needs. Jesus once warned two disputing brothers, "Take heed and beware of covetousness!" (Lk. 12:15) Why? A covetous person can never truly be satisfied, no matter how much he acquires, and a dissatisfied heart leads to a sad and disappointed life.
d. The prodigal son was unkind in his abrupt treatment, exploitation and abandonment of his father.
e. He was foolish for all of these reasons and more.
4. It did not take long for this selfish son to take the next step.
a. He gathered all he had demanded and taken from his father and moved to a "far country." Are you surprised?
b. What the prodigal was really after was independence from his father. He wanted to cut loose, he wanted to be free to do anything he wanted without the oversight, the restraint of concern of a loving and righteous family.
c. Thomas Huxley said, "A man's worst difficulties begin when he is able to do just as he likes." How true!
d. In that far country, the young son was far away from his father and far away from the good restraining influence of his family and friends.
1) Thus the young man, unfettered, unrestrained did whatever his heart desired.
2) He had a pocket full of money and a heart full of desires.
3) He had left his home, his father and all good sense.
4) He wasted no time wasting all that his father had given him in riotous living.
B. When the young son finally "came to himself" he finally saw what a sorry situation he had gotten himself in
1. Although everyone else around him could see how foolish, selfish and sinful his actions were, he had stubbornly and arrogantly refused to see the danger and damage he was causing all around him and above all to himself.
a. Instead of selfish, he thought he was independent;
b. instead of rude, he thought he was clever;
c. instead of unloving, he thought he was standing for his rights;
d. instead of unkind, he thought he was bluntly honest;
e. instead of foolish, he thought he was smart, he knew he knew better than anyone else, especially his father!
2. It has been rightly said, "There are none so blind as though who will not see."
a. While we stand in the door with his father watching this young man throw away his family and his very life, he blithely and blindly runs headlong down the road to ruin.
b. Perhaps there were times when he blamed his circumstances on his "overbearing" father and his "unloving and unconcerned" family. If only his father had done this or that, he wouldn't be in his sorry state!
3. Then "he came to himself." He finally saw his sad condition, "I perish with hunger!" (vs. 17).
a. He not only saw his sorry situation, but when he came to his senses, he knew there was no one else to blame but himself!
b. He, not his father, not his family, was responsible for his life and his sin.
c. If he had not "come to himself" and accept the responsibility for his sin, if he had excused himself and passed the blame, he never would have come out of the pig pen and his sin.
C. How many have trod the same path as the prodigal?
1. Just as the younger son, sought to get as far away as possible from his father, those determined to have their own way, will leave God's family and seek to get away from that family's love and influence.
2. Their family stands and watches as they make foolish and hurtful decisions that will lead them down a ruinous road of self destruction.
3. They waste their good name, their influence and life in riotous behavior, kicking and fussing and fighting and all the while they are blame everyone else for their sorry situation.
4. Sin promises freedom, but it only brings slavery (John 8:34); it promises success, but brings failure; it promises life, but "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). The boy thought he would "find himself," but he only lost himself! When God is left out of our lives, enjoyment becomes enslavement.
5. Jesus warned of those who would not accept responsibility for their spiritual condition. "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Rev. 3:17).
6. Those in sin and spiritual hunger need to "come to themselves" and accept the responsibility for their sorry situation, before they can ever recover.
III. He Recognized His Responsibility to Act
A. The prodigal "came to himself" he knew he had to act
1. The prodigal could have done what so many do, he could have stayed right where he was in the pig sty, in need, in hunger, in sin all the while blaming someone else for why he wasn't back at home with his family
2. He could have reasoned "Why doesn't my father or my older brother care about me?" "Why don't they come and get me out of here?"
3. Instead he came to himself and knew if he was going to be saved, if he was going to get home he had to act. "I will arise and go to my father " (vs. 18).
4. No one else could do it for him, not his family, not even his good and loving father!
B. You will stay in your sin until you come to yourself and recognize that you are responsible to act to save yourself
1. There are those who are in sin who want someone else to be responsible and act for getting them out of their sin.
2. If they are in sin, it's someone else's fault. If they do not come out of their sin, it's still someone else's fault.
a. "Why doesn't someone come and visit me?"
b. "I won't go to church because they don't care about me?"
3. No one else can get you to come out of your sin, not even the heavenly father.
a. Notice the father in the parable certainly did not approve of his son leaving and wasting his life, but he did not force him to stay.
b. Likewise, the father did not go out and tear his son from away from the far country and force his son to come home. Certainly the father wanted his son to come home, he wanted his lost and dead son to be found and alive again. But he could not force him or do it for him. The prodigal had to come to himself and get up on his own two feet and walk home himself.
4. This is a repeated message:
a. Peter told those on Pentecost "And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation" (Acts 2:40).
b. Paul told Christians of their responsibility to act for their salvation. "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12).
c. God calls to us, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you" (2 Cor. 6:17).
d. "(8) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (9) Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. (10) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up" (Jas. 4:8-10).
IV. He Recognized His Need to Repent & Confess
A. When he came to himself, he knew he needed to repent and confess his sin
1. "(18) I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, (19) And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants" (Lk. 17:18-19).
2. This was the moment of truth when this lost son began the long trek which led back to his father's house.
3. Repentance and confession required the prodigal to be honest to himself, honest to his family and honest to God.
a. It is acknowledgment of wrong doing, sin, not just against God, but before his family.
b. It is an admission of the need of forgiveness from God and his family.
c. It was an active turning about of one's mind and actions.
4. When the prodigal was fretting at home wanting to be away else where he called his desire "independence." In the far country he called it "pleasure." When he lost his money, he called it "bad luck." But when he reached bottom in the pig sty, he finally called it what it really was, "Father, I have sinned."
a. "I have sinned," cried the prodigal. For him those words did not come easily and it seems they never do.
b. The confession "I have sinned" occurs only seven times in the Bible. In these few cases it took a lot of convincing before the guilty party was willing to admit it (e.g. Pharaoh, Aachan, Balaam, David).
B. There are those today, in sin, who need to come to themself and repent and confess
1. Our culture has written the word sin right out of our vocabulary. There is no such thing as sin and wrong doing.
2. We, like the prodigal, know something is desperately wrong with us. It's just that we no longer call it "sin."
a. We devise new labels for old evils, but never call sin for what is really is.
b. We define our problem as ignorance, sickness, deviancy, poverty, dysfunction, inhumanity, crime and perversion.
c. According to the Bible these are the symptoms of a deeper problem.
d. Isaiah warned: "Woe to those who call evil good" (5:20).
3. Sin hurts our heavenly father and it hurts your entire spiritual family.
4. There is no cure for sin without true repentance and confession of that sin.
What was the end result of this prodigal son finally "coming to himself" recognizing his father's rich blessings, his own sin, his need to act and his need to repent and confess his sin?
"(20) And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. (21) And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. (22) But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: (23) And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: (24) For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry" (Lk. 15:19-24).
If you are in sin, it is far past time that you come to your senses and come home. Come, the Father and your spiritual family is waiting and watching eagerly at the door for you. Arise, repent and confess and come home.
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