Get the Most Out of Life
By Otto Kaiser
Global University Professor
Are you getting the most out of life? Are you achieving all that you want to achieve? I want to answer these questions from The Parable of the Lost Son.
In the immediate context, tax collectors are coming to Jesus. In reaction, the Pharisees complain that Jesus, who claims to be a prophet, receives sinners and eats with them. In response, Jesus tells three parables: (1) the lost sheep, (2) the lost coin, and (3) the lost son. The last parable on the lost son has a tremendous missionary application.
Title: Get the Most Out of Life
Text: Luke 15:11-32
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.’”
What does the Holy Spirit want to teach us from this parable of Jesus? How does this parable of Jesus apply to world missions?
I. Significance of Abundance
II. Sympathy for Sorrow
III. Silence in Conversation
IV. Scorn from Selfishness
V. Satisfaction for Service
I. Significance of Abundance
What are the circumstances of the older son? He is in his father’s house eating and enjoying life. The older son is filled with abundance. True, the younger son asked for his inheritance and left home. But according to the Old Testament Law, two thirds of the inheritance remained with the older son. Also according to the Old Testament Law, none of the family estate could be sold; it had to remain in the family. Thus when the younger son left home, all he could take with him is one third of the movable portion of the father’s wealth. The bulk of the inheritance remained with the older son. Through his austere handling of his father’s wealth, the older son more than doubled what the younger son had taken with him.
The family most likely lived in the great fertile plain of southern
boyhood home of
on the side of a mountain overlooked this great fertile plain. In the middle of
this great fertile plain was a major trade route over which the camel caravans
traveled. News came back through the caravans of the scarcity of the younger
son. Does the older brother see any relationship? What is the significance of the
abundance of the older brother and the poverty of the younger brother? Nazareth
God has blessed our nation in a wonderful way. We have beautiful homes, modern cars, and electrical appliances. We spend more money on luxuries, pleasure, and entertainment than any other people. What is the significance of our national abundance with the spiritual and material needs of the rest of the world?
As Christians, we are crowned with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. We have become new creations in Christ. We have become more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. Many of us are being blessed with a Bible college education. What is the significance of our spiritual abundance with the spiritual poverty in the rest of the world?
II. Sympathy For Sorrow
The father had great sorrow for his younger son. What sincere human parent would not have great sorrow for his wayward son? The father was always on the lookout for his younger son. He waited for the least news that might come with the next caravan. He never ceased watching and waiting. This is the reason; the father could see his younger son returning at a great distance. And when he saw the younger son at a great distance, he ran to him, embraced him, and kissed him.
The older son was not sympathetic with the sorrow of the father. The older son did not enter into the concern of his father. The older son told his father, “Dad forget him. He choose his life. Let him learn his lesson. Why worry about him? You have more important things to think about?”
What does all this say to us today? Here is a heavenly Father of whom the Bible says, “For God so loved the world.” Here is a heavenly Father who wants all people to come to Him. Paul wrote to Timothy, “God desires all men to be saved.” Peter wrote, “God is not willing that any should perish.” Are you sympathetic for the sorrow of your heavenly Father? Have you felt the heart beat of your heavenly Father for lost humanity?
The father of the lost son cried out to God for his wayward son. He saturated his pillow with tears as he wept for his lost son. Have you felt the burden of your heavenly Father for lost men and women? Have you prayed that reapers might be sent into the harvest? Have you prayed that God will raise up those who will be empowered by the Holy Spirit? How often have you prayed and fasted for the younger son?
III. Silence in Conversation
Have you ever considered what the father and the older son talked about? I am sure they talked about the most recent scientific agricultural techniques developed at the State College at
Caesarea. With the large staff of servants, I am sure
they talked about the latest principles of psychology in labor relations. I am
sure they talked about the recent strike of the camel driver’s union. I am sure
they talked about the price fluctuation on the grain market at . Rome
But what did the father and the older son talk about in reference to the lost son? Reports kept coming back of what was happening to the younger son. Was there a silence in the home? In some homes, it is understood that the family members do not talk about certain topics. Family members can be in the same home and yet be far removed from each other. The older son was living in his father’s house yet he was not at home with his father.
Did the older son ever volunteer to bring back his younger brother? Did the older brother offer to his father to go and look for his younger brother? Did the older son go to his father and say, “Dad, I know you love my younger brother. Let me go and bring him back. We can entrust the estate to our servants.
Have you ever volunteered? Like Isaiah, have you cried, “Here am I, Lord send me?” Like John Knox, have you prayed, “Lord, give me my country or I die?” In eternity, will others put their arms around you and say, “We are in heaven because of you?” How many of your friends, your neighbors, your family members, have you bought to Jesus Christ?
IV. Scorn From Selfishness
Let’s look closer at the character and motives of the older brother. Upon the return of the younger brother, the older brother was out in the fields supervising the hired servants. The fields would be several miles from the home. Because of raids and wars, the home would be in the village. As the older brother approached the home, he heard instrumental music. The father had quickly hired professional dancers to act out the story of the return of the wayward son. As he came near the house, the older son asked a servant what was happening. When the older son was told that his father was celebrating the safe return of his younger brother, the older son refused to enter the house. Even at the entreaty of his father, the older son refused to enter the house.
What were the motives of the older son? Most all Bible commentators in my library suggest: material selfishness and legalistic self-righteousness. The older son angrily shouted out, “I refuse to go in. If I share my inheritance with that brother of mine, my rating on the New York Stock Exchange will go down. If I give my money to world missions, I will not have enough money left to enjoy life when I get old.”
What did this selfishness lead to? All that the older brother could do was spit out scorn upon his younger brother. I have heard white Christians downgrade Indian Christians as being drunkards. I have heard mission leaders (not Assemblies of God) accuse Oriental Indians and Africans as being lazy. The older brother accused the younger brother of wasting his money while living with prostitutes. No where in the Bible does it actually say that the younger son slept with a prostitute. The original Greek only says, “loose living.” Without the wise counsel of his father, the younger son may have made a free wheeling investment and failed.
All that the older son could say to his father was “This son of yours.” No one can really say “Father,” and not say, “Brother.” No one can really say, “I love Jesus,” and not have a burden for those who do not know Jesus.
V. Satisfaction for Service
In response to the entreaty of his father, the older son replied, “Lo, these many years I have served you and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid that I might make merry with my friends. But when this son of yours came, you killed for him the fatted calf.” In the original Greek, the older son used a term that describes gallow slaves in the hole of Roman worships, a concept totally foreign to a father-son relationship. The older son never really appreciated his sonship with his father. The older son never appreciated what the father said, “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is thine.”
Why was the older brother not happy when his younger brother came home? Most all Bible commentators in my library suggest: material selfishness and legalistic self-righteousness; and I looked up almost twenty sources in preparing this message. But I believe that there was a far deeper reason why the older brother was not happy, and you don’t find this in Bible commentaries.
The older brother was not happy because he had no part in bringing his younger brother home. The older brother only stood off on the side and criticized. Why? Because great things were happening and he was not participating. God was doing great things, and the older brother was not involved.
Today, God is doing great things around the world. I am a grading professor at
I am professor of record for the undergraduate Islamic courses. We have four
undergraduate courses on Islam and three more in preparation. I also grade
courses in church history, world history, preaching and Christology. Global University
has an active enrollment of over 430,000 students worldwide and over 170 Bible
colleges use our curriculum. Over two million have accepted Jesus Christ as
Lord and Savior though our evangelism and discipleship courses. God is doing
great things in the world today. Are you involved in what the Holy Sprit is
doing in the world today? Global University
In 1949, when Mao came to power in Mainland
China, there were
only one million Protestant Christians in . Mao began his Red Purge in
which he attempted to eliminate Christianity in China . All the missionaries were
kicked out. Chinese Christian leaders were put in slave labor camps and many
were martyred. What did the Chinese Christians do? Under severe persecution,
Chinese Christians prevailed before God in prayer and fasting. My wife and I
were part of a Chinese Diaspora group at Fuller Theological Seminary at the
time. What were the results as Chinese Christians prevailed before God? God
sent a mighty move of the Holy Spirit to China : supernatural dreams,
healing, miracles and even people raised from the dead. Multiplies of millions
came to Jesus when the doors to China
were closed. Today the Chinese government claims that there are 130 million
Christians with over 70% Pentecostal. China
Up through the 20th century, the Islamic world was closed to the Gospel.
leaders were told by church growth scholars to put their missionaries among the
receptive populations and only keep a few missionaries in the resistant areas
like the Muslim people. But then about 20 years ago, groups of Christians
worldwide, independent of each other, were led by the Holy Spirit to pray and
fast for the Muslim people. What are the results? In the 21st
century, that is, the last 12 years, more Muslims have converted to
Christianity than in the entire 1,400 years before. Some scholars claim at the
rate of six million a year. In answer to prayer God has sent supernatural
dreams, healings, miracles, and even people raised from the dead. Our
courses are being downloaded. In every Islamic country, there exists a secret
house church movement that did not exist 20 years ago. Global University
In the world today, there are 1.6 billion Muslims and 16 million Jews. Have you caught the burden of the Holy Spirit in intercessory prayer for these multitudes? Have you caught the burden of your heavenly Father for these who are outside His Kingdom? Jesus gave His life on the Cross for them. By bloodline or adoption, they are descendents of Abraham through Ishmael and Isaac. God said to Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you” (Gen. 12:2). Those who intercede in prayer for the Muslim and Jewish people worldwide will come into the blessing God promised to Abraham. Will you be one of those blessed ones?
Jesus has promised that His house will be filled whether you bring people in or not. You can stand off on the side, like the older brother, criticize; and be very unhappy. Or you can be involved in what God is doing and experience the joy of the Holy Spirit. Can you experience a greater joy than finding the lost sheep, than finding the lost coin, then finding the lost son? Can you experience a greater joy than being the arm of God extended? Or will you be like the older brother, critical and unhappy, because you missed out on the joy of the Holy Spirit? You did not help bring your younger brother home.
Let me ask you again, are you getting the most out of life? Are you achieving all that you want to achieve? How can you get more out of life?
Permit me to close my sermon with a brief illustration from church history. As I describe a late teen age boy, you may recognize who I am talking about. This 16 year old boy lived in a coastal town of
West England which was part of the Roman Empire at that time. His grandfather was a pastor
of a church. This young boy was raised in a Christian home. His mother taught
him Bible stories in the Old and New Testament. This boy learned about Jesus
from his mother. Even though, he had a head knowledge of the Bible, he took
spiritual things lightly.
Norway raided the west coast of . They
killed his father and mother and kidnapped him and his younger sister. He was
separated from his sister and never saw her again. He was sold as a slave to a
farmer in England
who raised pigs. Ireland
For the next six years, this young boy cared for pigs on a farm. In the field watching the pigs, he remembered the godly teaching of his mother. The prayers of his mother followed him. The Holy Spirit convicted him of his sin. He prayed for Divine forgiveness and asked Jesus to become his Lord and Savior. Then for six years while watching pigs, he prayed and fasted for the people of
The Holy Spirit enabled him to escape the pig farm. He saw a beam of light come from heaven. He followed the beam of light from heaven to a seaport. He was able to get a boat ride to
. He was
able to work his way back to his home town. He was welcomed by his extended
family and hoped to settle down and live a normal life. France
While having his devotions, this young man had a vision. In this vision, a man from
said to him, “Little boy,
come over and walk among us again.” This young man received this as a call of
God to become a missionary to Ireland .
You may now recognize that I am talking about Saint Patrick of Ireland . Ireland
Patrick enrolled in a Bible school in
France and was sent by
the Bishop of France as a missionary to . God confirmed the
preaching of Saint Patrick with many supernatural healings, miracles, and even
people raised from the dead. Saint Patrick started over 200 churches, baptized
over 100,000 converts to Jesus, and in one life time changed Ireland from
being pagan to a Christian nation. Why? Because as a 16 year old boy, he prayed
and fasted for six years for the people of Ireland . What God did for Saint
Patrick, He can do for you as you catch the prayer burden of your heavenly
Father for the lost. Will you become a prayer warrior for Jesus and win people
for Jesus? Ireland
Make a commitment today!