Parables of Jesus: When Freedom Goes Too Far

Focus Passage - Luke 15:11-24

How much freedom is really good? America is the land of the free, but is doing whatever our emotions or desires want freedom or bondage? The parable of the prodigal son shows what happens when we get all the freedom that we want in the world. It also shows us the real freedom that comes from God’s love.

Freedom can be taken too far. We feel we can do anything we want to. We want to play our music as loud late at night or have a dangerous dog. We want to shout profanity in the streets or wear clothing that others find offensive. Freedom can be abused. People think that they have a right to tell God what is right and fair as well. Surely, a loving God would never let anyone go to hell. We try to set the rules for life and ignore what our heavenly father knows is best for us. Sadly, that isn’t freedom, it is rebellion. Such rebellion will crash our lives and chain us to our urges and emotions. Jesus tells a story about the cost of rebellion and the path to real freedom.

Rebellion – getting what we want v.12 Let’s follow the path of the son in the text. The son is tired of the old family rules and feels that he knows how to live better than good old Dad. Give me my money and let me alone. I don’t need you. I have seen people chafe over God’s rules like that. The reinvent the Ten Commandments and decide what is good and what is bad. They tell God how much of their life that they will give Him. Often, they walk away from God because they think they know it all.

Awakening – reality dawns v.17 For the younger son, life falls apart. The most hopeful sentence in this story is “when he came to his senses”. The veil has come off his eyes. He realizes how he has been shackled to his own urges and emotions. Those who live in rebellion from God are in a nightmare that often catches up with them. Oddly, it is only when some of them hit bottom that they realize what they have done. They begin to see the carnage of a broken life.

Repent and return – hope is reborn v.20 The son does something that shows maturity. He admits his sin and humbly returns to seek a servant’s place in his father’s house. He doesn’t just say he was wrong; he is willing to follow that up with action. Admitting you did something wrong will not change your life unless you repent and change your life. To really be healed, you have to return to the Lord for help with addiction, broken marriage, or failing health. Words alone are not enough.

The son who expects to have to beg for an audience from his father finds the father running to greet him. This loving father has been waiting with a heavy heart for months or years. Those who humbly come before the Lord expecting His wrath will find His love and forgiveness. Our Heavenly Father is just waiting for people to come to their senses and to return to Him. While the son was just hoping to be a slave in his father’s house, the father accepts him as a son who is ready to build a new life. It shouldn’t surprise us. What loving father wouldn’t rejoice when he sees this change in his son?

The son is finally free. He is free to develop into the man that he was always meant to be. He is free of his sinful urges and now has a bright future ahead of him. Those who return to the Lord have a new beginning and a certain hope as well. The past is totally forgiven by the blood of Jesus from the cross. The present and future are filled with opportunities as God walks beside us and surrounds us with His love. The fool thinks that God holds them back and wants freedom from God. Yet, real freedom comes as we live with our God. He frees us from the control of the world and our emotions to live our life in His blessings every day.