This past weekend, we participated in the 30 Hour Famine. Being hungry for 30 hours definitely leads to the strong desire to be satisfied with food! We all have a built in desire for satisfaction, but often we pursue these things in the wrong way. In Luke 15:25-31, Jesus tells a parable of two brothers who are seeking satisfaction.
Three weeks ago, we looked at this parable from the perspective of the father. Today we will be focusing on the perspective of the sons. Both the younger son and the elder son were lost and seeking the wrong things to find satisfaction.
The younger son was seeking satisfaction in the things of the world, while the eldest son was seeking satisfaction in his performance, trying to be good. Both were disappointed. But there is also one other person outside the context of this story who seeks satisfaction. And that is God. And we will see how He is fully satisfied.
Let's look first at the younger son. In Luke 15:11-13, the younger son asks for his share of the inheritance, then after receiving it, leaves for a distant country. In a few brief words we hear that he squandered it all away in "wild living."
Where was the younger son seeking satisfaction? First, he did it by trying to get away. Many times we think that the answer to our problems is by leaving. But if the problem is within you, you really can't escape. You are merely bringing the problem along. Secondly, he was seeking satisfaction through wild living. The younger son was seeking satisfaction in the things of the world.
In Luke 15:14 we find out that he did not find satisfaction. Instead, after he had spent everything, he began to be in need. This rich young man was reduced to tending pigs. No one was giving him anything.
But because of this, the younger son found hope. In the midst of his darkest circumstance, the son remembered his home and came back to his senses. This reflected the characteristics of true repentance: 1) he realized the truth of his need, 2) was willing to return to the father, and 3) wanted to confess his sin.
And there is a happy ending to his story. In Luke 15:20-24, the son returns to celebration, acceptance, rejoicing and grace. Everything the younger son had hoped to find in the distant country, he discovered back home.
When we seek satisfaction in the things of the world we will be disappointed.
The elder son only comes into the picture at the end of the story, so we don't know how he reacted to his brother's leaving. But we get a good sense of how he felt when we see his response to his brother's return.
In Luke 15:25-30, the elder brother gets angry when he hears that his brother has returned to a joyous welcome. This gives us a clue as to how the eldest son was seeking satisfaction. He was seeking satisfaction through his performance, trying to be a good son.
Did he find satisfaction in that? No. He only feels bitterness and resentment, not joy at the father's grace and generosity.
So where does an elder son find hope? In Luke 15:31 the father goes out now to meet his elder son to remind him that everything the father has belongs to the elder son. He has the father's love, provision, security and acceptance. And the elder son has the invitation to join in the joy of reclaiming the lost.
But the sad end to this story is that we have no indication that the eldest brother ever repented. When we seek satisfaction through our performance, in trying to be good, we will be disappointed.
Lastly, let's take a step out of this story and talk about one other person who is seeking satisfaction: God. God is seeking to satisfy his justice because of our sin. 1 John 4:10 tells us that God showed his love for us by sending Jesus as an atoning sacrifice. This Greek word has the idea of fully satisfying the one to whom a debt is owed.
Because God is fully satisfied by Jesus Christ, we can be fully satisfied in Jesus Christ.
How do we live out a life that finds full satisfaction in Christ? This is a lifelong pursuit! But some of the steps are:
1) surrender - will you surrender the salt water of things that you think will satisfy you and instead receive the pure living water that comes from Christ?
2) trust - will you really believe that you have everything in Christ and that God will provide abundantly more than we can ask or imagine?
3) will you live in the outpouring of His love and grace and share this great news with others?
Will you find your satisfaction in Christ this week?