The Parable of the Loving Father

A week ago, August 6th, I had the great privilege of hearing my favorite preacher - Dr. John MacArthur, preach in our pulpit. (no offense to my local pastors!). We were celebrating a 10 year anniversary of ministry at the Bible Church of Little Rock. Our pastor, Lance Quinn and his family have been serving here in Little Rock for an entire decade!! And, seeing as how MacArthur was Lance's mentor for 13 years, we invited him to come preach for the commemorative service (If you have a copy of MacArthur's book, "The Gospel According to the Apostles", look at the book dedication inside the front cover)
I had been anticipating this for weeks, and even had my 6 year old son excited about it (we occasionally listen to MacArthur sermons while riding in the truck together). Sunday morning I asked him, "Are you ready to hear John MacArthur preach?". My 3 year old daughter somehow got my words jumbled up in her head, and so she asked, "What's a Karma Parcher?"

Anyway...he preached from Luke 15 - the parable of the prodigal son. Only, he suggested that the parable wasn't about the son(s) at all, but about the loving father. He told us that when he preached through this parable at his church, it took him 5 one hour messages to get through it! (If you're on the GTY mailing list, you might have received this free sermon cd of a one-message summary of the parable). He also mentioned that upon completing this sermon series at GCC, something happened that has never before happened during his pastorate (I don't know if this is a good thing or bad thing). He said when he finished the last sermon, the people sat in stunned silence - weeping. At this point, he had our attention.

Building on the Jewish culture of shame and honor surrounding fathers, Dr. MacArthur explained the very familiar parable in a way that I've never considered. EVERYTHING the son did towards the father was shameful, and EVERYTHING the father did in response to the son was shameful (in the eyes of the pharisaical crowd, at least). Even the eldest son, continued the shame with his ungrateful response to his brothers homecoming. The first son, MacArthur explained, represents the sinner. The older son, represents the Pharisees. The father - represents - of course, God.

I cannot begin to describe or summarize much more without doing a dis-service to his exegetical work, so I will only STRONGLY recommend that you download it and listen for yourself. The last few minutes are simply...well - stunning.

*UPDATE as of 8/21/06 - here's a better set of links for you:

Click here to order the original 5 part sermon series from GTY

Click here to order a 3 part series on the same parable (just condensed a bit)

Click here to order a single sermon on the same parable and read the transcript (VERY condensed, and without the dramatic ending)

Click here to download the FREE audio from the sermon he preached at BCLR. Use the search engine to find the title, "The Story of a Loving Father", or search for "MacArthur" or "Luke 15".


MARK said...

I agree. His message was outstanding. It was worth our travel time.

My wife said, "I've never heard that story in that way."

I am ordering the complete series. I would like to visit his church someday.

Aaron said...

I received the cd set in the mail - but looks like it's only 3 cd's (3 messages). So, maybe I heard him wrong when he said it took 5 messages to complete.

Anyway, the cd's are great!