Faithful God, keep us; do not let us depart from You. Amen.
Text: Luke 15:11–16
Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.”
In this younger son the Lord depicts Gentiles and publicans who have gone far away from God. But it is also a description of fallen Christians. O how sad when a child of God rejects the glory of his state of grace and chooses the passing pleasure of earth instead! Everything that he had of the heavenly riches he abandons. He throws away his peace and joy in the Lord, he loses the most glorious thing that can be had in heaven or on earth: a life of love in God. God’s Spirit leaves him, and thus the light of his understanding goes out, so that he walks in darkness. He rejects confidence in God, the boldness and comfort as a child of the heavenly Father, the gracious gift of prayer, the precious right to pour out the heart’s concerns before the Lord and always to get help in danger and trouble, songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving, the divine service, the joyful communion of the saints, a fraternal spirit, life in holiness and honor, joy in what is pure and true; in short, all that a child of God has.
He wastes it all, that is, he either rushes into ungodliness or little by little he becomes lukewarm and cold, dulls the correction by the Spirit, and thus worldly and careless, he loses life in God. Then he seeks to satisfy himself with the world’s pleasure, but the children of the world all go hungry and have nothing that satisfies. Selfishness is consuming; only love shares. Only love quiets the hunger of the soul, but the world does not have it, so it becomes void: vanity and no satisfaction. O how miserable are the children of the world in all their riches and prestige! O what a sad bargain when the child of God sells his glorious state of grace for the miserable pleasures of fleshly joys! Look at him! Before, he was pure and beautiful; he rejoiced with the angels and the other children of God in the rich glorious home of the Father. See, now he is among the swine, hungry for the pods he feeds them. But they are hungry, too, and want to have it themselves, – and the desire consumes him.
So beware, you Christians, and guard your grace! Never, never leave our heavenly Father! We beg and implore you: Walk in the light and remain in the Son and in the Father! Never let the hollow and miserable world deceive you!
Heavenly Father, keep us close to You, keep us firm in grace, and guard us from the wicked way of the prodigal son. This we pray You with our whole heart! Amen.
O make thy choice The Spirit’s voice
When He comes to remind thee;
Then shall peace thine heart rejoice,
Satan get behind thee.
One secret thought With evil fraught,
Which in the heart was cherished,
Havoc of God’s grace hath wrought,
And the soul hath perished.
Each soul astray From Christ, the way,
Should keep God’s people humble;
Jesus warns, “O watch and pray,
Lest ye fall and stumble.”
Brorson: O watch and pray L 268:220.127.116.11 ELH 516:3.4.7 tr. G. A. T. Rygh;
tune: O Traurigkeit