“When he came to his senses,”

Pastor Kitazawa

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“6 parables of Jesus Christ” No. 3 (Luke 15:11-24)

「Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “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. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “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! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 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. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “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. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.」
(‭‭Luke‬ ‭15:11-24‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

① Since June, we have been reading the parables of the Lord Jesus together, and this is the third one of this message series.

・ First of all, let us review the contents of this parable briefly.

・Long time ago, in a certain place, there was a wealthy family, and they had two sons.

・ One day, the second son had a thought like this.
“For all my life, I have been following my dad and his rules, …which wasn’t bad, but at least once in a lifetime, I want to follow my heart and live in my own way. That’s right, I should live my own life by myself in the way I want, that’s what I should do from now on!”

・ Having all of these thoughts, he decided to talk to his dad like this,
Verse 12 says, “Father, give me my share of the estate.” So his dad divided his property between them.

・ The second son left for a distant country alone with the great amount of money he received from his father.

② After that, he is no longer under the control of his father…. At the same time, he is not protected by his father… Without the advice of his father, he lived his own way.
He ate what he wanted to eat, drank whatever he wanted to drink, and did what he wanted to do.

However, as time went on, he realized that he ran out of his property and it was all gone.
As a result, he had to live very poorly.

・ The only job he was able to get was taking care of pigs.
At that time, people thought this occupation was “unclean”, so no one wanted to take that job.

・ While watching the pigs eating the food, he started thinking, “Oh, I even envy these pigs for having food to eat. I wish I could eat these…”

・ However, by going down to the deepest bottom like this, he finally came to his senses and decided, “Alright, I should go back to my father’s house.”

・ Of course, going home returning as his father’s son was too much to ask. He thought, “My dad will never accept me as his son anymore, but at least maybe he can hire me as one of his employees.“

・He continued thinking, “when I get home, they might beat me, or scold at me… but it doesn’t matter! The way I was living was just wrong! I should go back to my father at once!!”
He decided so and started walking toward his father’s home.

・ And what happens next? On the way he was heading home, there was an unexpected event waiting for him. He was still far from home, but his father was there and running toward him.

・ The father ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
He was incredibly pleased that his son was back.

・ It was totally unexpected for the son. He didn’t expect his father to wait for him like this way.

・ After this, his father held a big banquet for this son who had returned.
The second son came to know his father’s passion and love for him.
That was a brief explanation of this parable.

・ Actually, there is another story in this parable, but for today’s message, we will end right here. I would like to talk about the rest of the parable in the next message.

③ I believe most of you have already noticed that the father here is the creator of the world, all beings, and He is also our creator. He is our Heavenly Father who loves each one of us so passionately. The prodigal son here is no one else but us.

・What do you think of this story? Don’t we relate to this son naturally?

・We also had our own way of living, thinking “I don’t want to believe in God, it’s better not to live a religious life following God.” Maybe you have never said it aloud, but you might have had a thought like that.

・ It is quite difficult for us to look into ourselves, what is in the depths of our hearts…

・ However, when we calm ourselves, become honest and start looking what is really in our heart, we will be able to see what our real intention is.

・Our nature says, “Instead of living a life that requires me to follow God, I want to live my own way, in the way I want it!” In other words, we think “we human should live in the way we want it.”

・ This parable teaches us that we have a hidden thought like that and that is the real nature of a human being.

④ Now, let us think about a life that is far away from God, in other words, a life that you live in the way you want it, is it really a life that gives you a complete freedom?

・A lifestyle that doesn’t fear God nor follow Him, instead follow your own desires and will, and to live for your own self-fulfillment… That kind of lifestyle seems very free, powerful, and attractive. However, when we put it into practice, it is not as wonderful as we thought it would be, and this parable portrays that brilliantly.

・Without God, we were supposed to have more free life. But the life the prodigal son had wasn’t really free. In fact, it was opposite from being free, he eventually lost the most basic freedom, the freedom to eat…

・ It was just like a goldfish jumping out of a fishbowl … it was that kind of freedom.
He felt suffocated, and far from being free, his life began to crumble.

⑤ However, his life has been changed from here. Fortunately, he was able to say, “I should go back to my father’s house!”

・ Then … something surprising has happened right in front of his eyes.
Originally, he expected his father to kick him out or beat him, or at best make him one of his servants. That was his expectation.

・ However, unexpectedly, his father run to him with such a joy, gave him a hug and kiss, and he even invited his neighbors for a banquet to celebrate his son’s return.

・ His father had been waiting for him. He had been waiting for his lost son to come home, wondering when he would be back, hoping it would be today, tomorrow, or sometimes soon. The father went to to the gate waiting for him on a daily basis.

・ But his father couldn’t stand it anymore, and he finally went out and started looking for his son. Right on time, his son came back.

・What impresses me the most is that his father went through such suffering and pain for his son. This is the figure of our heavenly father, God. Our father in heaven also waits for us to come home, and He even goes through such suffering for us.

⑥ In this way, this son had a life turning away from God, but at some point, he decided to turned away from that kind of life, and came back to live with God, which is a victorious life.

・ So what made him decide to go back to his father? When he turned away from his way of life, what happened in his heart?

・Verse 17 describes this moment like this, “When he came to his senses…,”
And it was his turning point.

・ What does it mean to “come to his senses”? When I looked into Kojien, it was written that “to come to (one’s) senses” means “to regain consciousness”, “to realize” or “to revive”.

・That means, this son regained consciousness as human being at this moment.

・All of the sudden, he realized that he was not a pig but a human being, and most importantly, he realized that he was the son of his father.

・”To regain consciousness as a human being” means he started thinking about the purpose of his life, what human beings are living for, and the meaning of life.

・”How should we live our lives?” Or before that, “Who are we, human beings?”
He came to his senses to be able to think about these basis of a life quietly.

⑦ I believe that when we have worship service at church, that is the time that we “come to our senses”.

・In worship, the Bible speaks to us a message of God. The words of the Bible is the cry of God’s love.

・As we hear the cry of love from God, each one of us come to our senses. It is like we wake up and regain consciousness as a human being.

・I believe that the worship service is the time when we truly come to our senses.

・ But some of you might say, “Even though I come to my senses and awake from deep sleep on Sunday, I will fall asleep again from Monday….” (Those who say things like this are usually the one who have humble, honest, and wonderful heart.)

・However, I believe that the fact that we fall asleep again after waking up is not a problem at all. It is completely normal that people awake and sleep.
Unless you’re asleep all the time, like you’re in a coma, there’s nothing wrong with it.

・ We come to our senses in worship, and regain consciousness, and after a while, we fall asleep again. But we can wake up again in the next worship service.
In fact, this is the reason why we are gathered for worship every week.

〇 From this parable of the prodigal son, which the Lord Jesus spoke to us this morning, I can hear the cry of God’s love that wakes us up from a deep sleep… and this love restores our consciousness as human beings.

・The cry of God’s love sounds like this, “Please come back to me, my child! Come back to me! Come back to me! And live an abundant life with me!!” This is the cry of God’s love.

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