Joy in the Father’s House

Title: Joy in the Father's House

Bible Book: Luke 15

Author: J. Mike Minnix

Subject: Love of God; Grace; Joy



George W. Truett, who pastored the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas for almost 50 years, never liked calling the place of worship a sanctuary. He felt that it sounded too much like a mortuary, a place of death. He rather liked to call it the Meeting House. He chose that phrase because he said it was the place where Holy God met with unholy people. Indeed, that is what a church worship center is all about.

We see this in the Bible very clearly in the story of the Prodigal Son. In this story Jesus told of a man with two sons. One of them asked for his inheritance and, once he received it, left the old home place to go to a faraway place. He wanted to be free of the restraints of the Father. He longed to try his wings. He was to fly away from the hearth and home he had known so long. Once he left home he indulged in great sin.

Thinking of this boy's sin reminds me of the dream I had the other night. I dreamed I went to heaven. Once there I noticed that there were many clocks on the wall. Some were moving quickly and others were barely moving. I asked an angel why some of the clocks were moving more quickly than others. He shared with me that each clock was for a Christian on earth. Every time that Christian sinned, the clock moved. I looked around and I didn’t see a clock for (use anyone's name here). I asked why his clock was not among the others. The angel said that some of the saints were using it for a fan! Now that's a great sinner!

So this boy was a great sinner. He spent his father's money and ended up in poverty. He is pictured as sinking to the lowly job of feeding and looking after swine on a pig farm. In fact, he is so poor and hungry that the pods the pigs were eating began to look appetizing to him.

One day the poor fellow "came to himself." He turned from the insanity of his way and remembered his Father's house. He decided to go home and confess his sin and ask his Father to make him a hired hand on the family ranch. That is where we pick up the story in Scripture.

What a great parable this is. Here we see that God is not a spoil-sport. He is no fuddy-duddy. He is not some angry bearded man waiting to pounce on poor sinners. Rather, Jesus told us that when the boy came home in rags, the Father ran out to meet Him. Once he had confessed his sin, the prodigal was part of a great, happy, festive celebration. He learned that it is true that God is willing to do for us exceedingly and abundantly more than we can think or ask. The boy asked to be a mere farm hand, but the Father refused his offer. He rather treated the repentant boy as a son. He created a party for the once wayward boy.

I want us to look at the joyful, festive celebration that took place when the boy came home. This is the very point that Jesus was seeking to impress upon the Pharisees and teachers of the law. They thought service for God made one right with God - to disobey was to be disinherited. Three things stand out in this passage that speak of the JOY IN THE FATHER'S HOUSE.


A. The Father Identified with the Sinful Boy

What a wonder it is - God identifying Himself the sinful young man. He ran to the boy and called him "Son." The minute any one of us turns from our sin and places believing faith in Christ, God identifies with us. He makes us part of His family.

This is what Jesus was trying to show the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. They criticized Jesus for welcoming sinners and outcasts. Jesus sought to show them that this was His purpose in coming to the earth. He came to seek and to save those who are lost.

A boy was in court for his day of sentencing when the judge asked the young man to stand. Just then an old man in the gallery stood as well. It was the father of the wayward boy. He stood with tears in his eyes, for he was identifying himself with the son who had gone astray.

Jesus came to take my place at Calvary. He identified with me, so that I might be identified with the Father. Hallelujah, What A Savior.

B. The Father Initiated the Celebration for the Sinful Boy

The Father called for a party. He hired a band, killed a fattened calf, and invited guests. This is a picture of how God feels about one person turning from sin. Heaven breaks out in song.

Isn't it amazing? God throws a party for rebels like us. This is a miracle of God's grace, for certainly the son in this did not deserve the father's love and forgiveness. Likewise, you and I can never deserve or earn God's blessings. They are available to us because of His mercy and grace.

C. The Father is Involved in the Celebration for the Sinful Boy

The Father is pictured as being in the midst of the celebration. He is not far off somewhere alone, but it right in the middle of the party going on in His house.

But there is a brother in this story. He stayed home and worked while the wayward brother threw away the inheritance the father had given him. In the parable, Jesus tells how the working brother came home from the field to see the light in the house, to hear the music being played, and the celebration taking place. When the elder sees and hears this, he asks what is happening. When he is told that his younger brother has come home and the father is celelbrating his return, the older brother is angry and distraught. He refuses to go in to participate in the celebration  The father goes out to talk to the older son to encourage him to join in the joyous activity.

The picture here is a comparison between repentance and selfrighteousness. The Pharisees thought of themselves righteous because of the work they were doing for God. Jesus revealed in this parable that no one is worthy of God's love and forgiveness, and no amount of personal actions on our part can make us right with God. We come to Him through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.


Now, let's look at the gifts the Father gave the repenting young man.

A. The Robe - The Father's Testimony

The boy came home wearing rags. God gave him a robe! He had no testimony, but God gave Him His testimony. He covered the boy with His love. This robe was paid for by the Lamb of God who paid for the sin committed by all prodigals by being stripped of His robe and crucified on the cross of Calvary.

B. The Ring - The Father's Title

The signet ring in those days had the family name upon it. It carried the family authority. This young man turned from his life of sin to become a part of God's family - that is the idea in this parable. What a wonderful joy he discovered. Most people who come to the Lord say with wonder, “Why did I wait so long?” The world has nothing to offer us that is remotely compared to the joy, peace and gladness of being in God's family.

C. The Shoes - The Father's Tenderness

Instead of stripes, the Father gavethe prodigal shoes for his sore, bleeding feet. Only the poorest of the poor were barefooted in the days described in this parable. The Lord gives us "walking shoes" when we come to Him. He directs our steps. He heals our wounded feet from the hards stones of this world.

D. The Calf - The Father's Table

The Father had a fattened calf prepared for the son who was home from a world of sin. In the Bible days a fattened calf was often set aside for the most important guests or family celebrations. In this parable we note that the Father did not have to find a well fed it fo calf for the returning son - the fattened calf was already waiting. The Father always has a fattened calf ready for those who will come home to Him.

J. Wilbur Chapman tells of traveling by train out west. They came to the Grand Canyon. He was spell-bound by the beauty and wonder of it. A woman sat reading a book and he asked why she was reading a book instead of looking at the incredible scene. She said that she had been on the trip 13 times and it had lost its beauty to her. I pray that God will deliver us from losing our sensitivity to the beauty of the Lord and the joy of His salvation.1eak, $10.00” He was excited. He went in, sat down, and then he saw the fine print. It said, "T-bone $10.00, with Meat $31.95." God never throws those who come meatless bones! He has a feast and celebration prepared for all who come in faith to trust Him for forgiveness.

The home the son hated, he now loved. He was home. Now he had use of the bedroom, because that is where they found the robe. He had use of the backroom, for that is where they found the shoes. He had use of the business room, for that is where they found the ring. He had use of the banquet room, for that is where they served the calf. When you come to Christ, He opens every room in the kingdom to you!


What created such gladness and joy?

A. There is Gladness in Living Things

When he left home in the beginning, he was dead to the Atmosphere of the home. He was dead to the Activity of the home. He was dead to the Advantages of the home. When he came back in repentance, He was alive to the Father and dead to the world.

B. There is Gladness in Located Things

When he was away from the Father, he was lost the Father's Blessings and was distant from the Father's Bosom. When he came home, he found what he had been looking for all the time.

C. There is Gladness in Liberated Things

Like hostages home from war.

Like healing from an illness.

When the prison gates are opened, the prisoner rejoices. Every soul is, or has been, a prison to sin. Once we come to the Lord, we are liberated from selfishness, sin and the sentence of death.

The celebration got loud in the parable Jesus told - after all, it was a celebration! Faith in Christ is not about sadness but is rather all about release and redemption. It is joy - God's joy - placed in the human heart.


Have you been away from the Father? Come home. You will find what you have been looking for.

Are you lost in sin? Come by faith the Lord. He is calling you. He is looking for you. He has a celebration planned for you.

Has your service to God become like that of the elder brother? Do you serve God without joy? Come, now! Join he celebration.

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