Jesus, a friend of sinners…

  • What does that mean?


Let’s answer that today…
Prodigal Son

  • In Luke 15, Jesus tells a PARABLE
  • Story to illustrate an important point…


A man has 2 sons…


Younger Son comes and asks his father for his share of the inheritance

  • The Father, Gave it to him…

Luke 15

13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living. 14 After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing.


The only job available was feeding pigs (unclean)

so hungry, the pig food looked good


Luke 15

17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired workers.”’


He came to his senses and decided to go home back to his father

  • But how would his father respond?
  • Would be welcome back?


Luke 15

20 So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’


22 “But the father told his servants, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Then bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let’s celebrate with a feast, 24 because this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate.


This would have seemed like a happy ending…

Older brother comes home from the fields

Hears music and asks what going on


28 “Then he became angry and didn’t want to go in. So his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 But he replied to his father, ‘Look, I have been slaving many years for you, and I have never disobeyed your orders, yet you never gave me a goat so that I could celebrate with my friends.

The older brother never went into the house to celebrate what the father was celebrating…


In this story, Jesus is likening the Father to our Heavenly Father

  • The prodigal to those far from God
  • The older brother – The religious leaders/Israel

But those with HARD HEARTS


The Older Brother did not TRULY understand the HEART of the FATHER

  • That his lost son would return


But there is also something else really important about this story that I want to highlight…

  • Child of the father
  • Took the blessings of the Father and squandered it
  • He didn’t earn that blessing was given to him


But when calamity struck, he recognized the error of his ways



Did the father go and get the son, or did the son RETURN to the Father?
Luke 15

18 I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight.
The son had to return to the father…

  • Father was WAITING for the son
  • When the san came into view, he ran to the son
  • Father ACCEPTED the son back in


>>But the Son had to do something very important first…..

1: Recognizing There Is A Problem


Like knowing that something is wrong physically… We also know that there is just something wrong with the world

With us…
A real part of what is wrong with us is

We have a MAJOR problem with IDENTITY


>>We are the first culture to say…



Every previous culture helped you determine who you would be in light of the community.

  • We have abandoned that.


We NOW have the most FRAGILE identities in the world

  • Constantly needing to be validated
  • Hating anyone who doesn’t


Freddie deBoer Wrote about the FRAGILITY OF MODERN IDENTITY..



Except from article called “You Can’t Fake It”

Here’s what I do know. We’ve got a political critique of the ways that notions of human worth are dictated by traditional inequalities of race and sex and class, and a set of political concepts like self-care that are designed to fight the negative effects of that.

We’ve got a self-help culture that constantly counsels that everyone is a ray of brilliant and unique light that alone can shine the way through a dark world. We’ve got an increasingly woke world of marketing and goods that sells its products by selling you to yourself. (A gym I pass by sometimes used to have a sign that said, “Join the Body Acceptance Movement!”, neglecting the fact that if we all accepted our bodies there would be no such thing as a gym.)

We’ve got a medical industry busily developing all manner of powerful drugs to “manage” all of this anxiety and insecurity and feelings of inadequacy. We’ve got our social media tools to craft and perfect and share an idealized visions of ourselves, curated and managed to the millimeter, so that we can present exactly what we want to present, to put our best foot forward with digital precision.

And none of it works.

I’ve known people in my life who were the most outwardly secure and confident, who never betrayed a hint of doubt or guilt or remorse, who projected cool at all times, who were quite popular, who received plaudits and positive affirmation from others at all times, who were academically and professionally successful, who had money and respect, and who cultivated the kinds of micro-celebrity that are common to contemporary life. And yet the flow of life revealed that, inside, they hated themselves fully and completely and with a bitterness that I can’t imagine enduring at any time, let alone all the time. None of that stuff mattered. None of it could get at the core self-hatred within. They could never fool themselves. And, well…


I wonder: is this the human condition?


The Bible Says YES!


Thats the BURDEN called sin

  • It’s a rock that sits on the chest of every human being, slowly suffocating the life out of you


Romans 2:23

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
But Jesus comes and LIFTS the burden OFF


The fix to this is recognizing that…


  • He IS the good


So His plan contains the MOST GOOD for your life

  • You can’t define good for yourself


The Prodigal son realized that his FATHERS GOOD was far better than his own

  • So returning to his father was the BEST decision he could make


>>Recognizing there is a problem isn’t enough; it takes the next step…


2: Be Humble About Fixing The Problem

That’s part of our brokenness

We know there is a problem – usually caused by us

But think we have the SOLUTION


Our culture is a huge pot of failed SOLUTIONS

  • Politics
  • Power
  • Money
  • Pleasure


Not one of these has solved the Problem, only worsened it…


What if the Prodigal Son returned to the Father and BLAMED HIM?

  • You didn’t give me enough money…
  • You didn’t prepare me well enough…
  • You didn’t stop me from going…


But The Prodigal Son took a different route

He went to his Father in HUMILITY

  • Took complete ownership of his actions
  • Did not try and reclaim his status as a son
  • He let his father take the lead once again

This brings us back to the OLDER BROTHER…

  • He did not squander his Father’s wealth
  • BUT refused his father’s request to celebrate his sons return
  • He DID NOT go into the house to celebrate

He chose to stay out of his father’s celebration, thus exiling himself because, ultimately, he wanted to CONTROL his father too…


So now we have two SONS

2 paths, if you will…


Path #1: Older Brother

Brokenness, but through SELFISHNESS, trying to control the hand of the father for his own gain

Path #2: Younger Brother

Brokenness, but through HUMILITY, taking ownership of it and asking for forgiveness and restoration


I need you to remember these two paths


Let’s shift this story to…

Jesus on the Cross…


The Passion Narrative

  • Betrayed
  • Unjustly tried
  • Brutally beaten
  • Sentenced to death on a cross


Luke 23

32 Two others—criminals—were also led away to be executed with him.
I think these two criminals are here for a few reasons:

  • Trying to make a statement that Jesus was just as low as them
  • Trying to make him insignificant
  • But instead, we now know of two thieves because you can’t make Jesus INSIGNIFICANT.
  • He makes the insignificant things SIGNIFICANT.

Luke 23

35 The people stood watching, and even the leaders were scoffing: “He saved others; let him save himself if this is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him. They came offering him sour wine 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!”

Luke 23

39 Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”


Path #1:

Brokenness, but through SELFISHNESS, trying to control the hand of the father for his own gain

  • Save me
  • You’re not God if you don’t (at least not to me)


Doesn’t love Jesus, only what he can do for him

This path will ALWAYS cause you to HATE God for not meeting YOUR desires
Luke 23

40 But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? 41 We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.”


Path #2:

Brokenness, but through HUMILITY, taking ownership of it and asking for forgiveness and restoration
Luke 23

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”


This thief preaches the most powerful sermon…

He preaches…

3: See Jesus As The SOLUTION To The Problem

When Christians say, “JESUS IS A FRIEND TO SINNERS.”

  • They mean HE is the SOLUTION to the sinner’s PROBLEM


What is broken in you, in me, cannot be fixed by ANY of our means

  • That rock will crush you


Like trying to break it apart with a water pistol

  • It will NEVER work


But when Jesus comes into our life, he BURST FORTH!


That rock of sin isn’t the first ROCK he has had to move out of his way

  • 2000 years ago, he rolled a stone away
  • Walking out of the grave into


1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.


The solution will NEVER BE YOU.

But Jesus is FOR YOU when you come to him in HUMBLE REPENTANCE.


That’s what it means that Jesus is a friend of sinners because he is the only friend that solves the SIN problem in your heart…


Let me be clear…

It is in CHRIST ALONE that your hope will be found

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