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The Father's Love | Part 3

September 13, 2020 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:

Verse: Luke 15:11–15:32

Part 3

IV. The Hateful Derision for the Father – 15:25-32

A. The Anger toward the Father – vv. 25-28a

  • This story, if ended here, would be a wonderful story of redemption with a happy ending.
  • However, there is a sinful presence even more diabolical or fiendish than the prodigality of the younger son – whose sins took him so low that he “came to his senses.”
  • This greater sin is a sin that finds absolute contentment in oneself – the self-righteousness represented by this older son who served in this story as a personification of the Pharisees.
  • We are introduced to him as a man who was a hard-worker – “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be.”
  • Remember, the father had committed to this older son the 2/3 of his wealth, and thus it technically belonged to him.
  • Yet, there was a huge expenditure of which he knew nothing – he was completely out of the loop with reference to the joy of the father.
  • The father’s “failure” to consult with him indicates the independent worlds in which both the older son and the father lived – their relationship was estranged.
  • With a degree of naivety the servant assumes that the older brother will be delighted and shares the “good news” with him – “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.’”
  • Instead of rejoicing with the father, this older son “became angry and was not willing to go in …”
  • He immediately perceived that the young son was not going to be punished, not going to have to grovel, not going to have to work to get back into the good graces of both the father and him.
  • His assessment was that the father had lost his mind – that what was happening was not right and refused to have anything to do with it.
  • He clearly felt that if the father wanted to rejoice in a son, he ought to rejoice in him since he had always worked hard and had never squandered anything.
  • His anger toward the father was because he was not being celebrated, the good-for-nothing-brother, who was unworthy was benefitting from what ought to be given to him.

B. The Attack against the Father – vv. 28b-32

  • Someone must have informed the father that the older son was outside and unhappy so “his father came out and began pleading with him.”
  • “pleading” [παρακαλέω] – lit. “to call to one’s side” – that is to join the father in his joy.
  • This pictures Jesus’ desire to see all sinners redeemed – cp. Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 2:4.
  • But the older son would have none of it and displays a boiling bitterness and resentment for the father that came spewing out – “But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends …”
  • This young man reveals that he has resented his father all along – and feels that the father owes him, that is, his faithfulness to the father was about what he would be able to get from the “old man,” and yet he has never satisfied him with any gesture that celebrate him.
  • The disrespect and lack of love for the father is seen in the refusal to enter the joy of his brother’s redemption – referring to him as “this son of yours” – refusing to even acknowledge him as his brother.
  • His selfish ambition, self-righteousness, and haughtiness is clearly expressed – “… but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’”
  • His perspective was that he was worthy of the fattened calf for his external, legalistic, slavery to commands but didn’t even get a goat; while his younger brother didn’t even deserve a goat but has gotten the fattened calf … “your insane dad!”
  • The father doubles down on what a truly righteous heart thinks – “And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.’” – cp. Romans 9:1-5.
  • “But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live and was lost and has been found.” - this takes us back to the point of all three of these parables – those who truly love God will rejoice in the mercy and grace that sinners receive from God – cp. Luke 15:1-2.
  • The story ends without a satisfying ending – so what happened? How did he respond to the father’s call to rejoice with him in the redemption of the young son?
  • We are not told in this story, but if we trace the people represented in the story, we find that the father (representing Jesus) was ultimately killed by the older brother (Pharisees) in part because of his love for sinners (younger brother) – cp. Matthew 12:14-15a; Acts 2:22-23.
  • But for now, they simply walk away, fully understanding Jesus’ indictment of their self-righteous, external, legalism and smug spiritual self-reliance with an apparent dismissal of the stories of the incompetent shepherd, careless woman, and push-over father.


  1. How do we know that the “faithful” son’s devotion to the father was a façade?
  2. Why would a person criticize God for forgiving a sinner?
  3. Why does the legalist despise grace?


You have not sinned so greatly that the love of God would refuse to forgive you if you “come to your senses” and turn to him in faith and repent.

Instead of putting you out of mind because of your sin, God longs to be gracious to you, not willing for you to perish, but to come to repentance.

If you turn to God in repentance for your sin and faith in Jesus Christ, God will “run” to forgive you.

There is no greater joy in heaven than when a sinner repents.

If you think that God owes you anything – health, relationships, wealth, jobs, happiness, or whatever – you do not understand grace.

Self-reliance and sin blinds us from the overwhelming blessings that God has given to us.