Sermon #119                                                 Luke Sermons


     Title:          It Was Meet

     Text:          Luke 15:32

     Subject:     A Reason for Joy

     Date:         Sunday Morning—March 14, 2004

     Tape #       Y-6a

     Reading:    2 Corinthians 4:11-5:9



(Luke 15:32)  “It was meet that we should make merry and be glad, for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again, and was lost and is found.”


This threefold parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son, unlike other parables, gives us many instructive lessons. Our Lord’s parables, as you know, are illustrations, of divine truth. As such, they usually are intended to convey one thing, and only one thing. You will find, as are taught by God the Holy Spirit, that each parable has one special lesson, one point of divine instruction which, when opened and sealed to your heart by the power and grace of God, magnificently illustrates one distinct aspect of the gospel, one particular perfection of God, or one specific work of our great God.


Much confusion has arisen in the minds of men by trying to make the parables say many things and trying to make every part of the parable fit a predetermined doctrinal mold. That is a mistake. The parables are intended to convey one thing, only one thing. That is the general rule.


Yet, as we have seen in the parable before us, this trilogy of parables conveys many delightful lessons about the mercy, love and grace of our God toward poor, needy sinners in Christ. Still, even in this parable, the rule of interpretation stands. It really conveys just one message. All the other things revealed here are parts of that one message. The one thing illustrated, over and over again, in this parable is just this…


Proposition: The God of Glory, our heavenly Father, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is full of grace and mercy, ever ready to save poor sinners, anxious to be merciful, rejoicing in the exercise of his tender-mercies and loving-kindness toward the helpless, the fallen and the needy. He “delighteth in mercy!


When the lost sheep is brought home on the shoulders of the omnipotent Shepherd, our Lord tells us in verse 7 ― “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”


We read, in verse 9, that when the lost coin is found by the effectual work of God the Holy Spirit, that he calls for a time of rejoicing. And our Savior tells us in verse 10 ― Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”


When the lost son returns to the Father’s house, our Lord tells us that God the Father throws a party in heaven (vv. 20-24). Everyone in the Father’s house started playing joyful music and dancing in celebration because of the prodigal’s return (v. 25).


(Luke 15:20-27)  “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. (21) And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. (22) But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: (23) And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: (24) For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. (25) Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. (26) And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. (27) And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.”


The Elder Brother


When he heard the music and dancing, the elder brother could not understand what was going on in the Father’s house. He was a stranger to it all. But when he heard what had happened, he was filled with anger toward his Father and toward the prodigal. This elder brother, as set before us in this parable, portrays the self-righteous Scribes and Pharisees to whom our Lord addressed the parable (vv. 1-3).

·       He resents the Father’s love toward his worthless son.

·       He rebels against the heavenly music of joy over the restored son.

·       He dares to say to his Father that he has never broken one of his commandments.

·       He is angry and bitter at the kind, gracious, loving reception of the wicked younger son, who went out rich and came back poor; who went out clean and came back polluted; who went out well clothed and came back in rags; who went out well-nourished and came back starving; who went out in proud rebellion and came back broken, in repentance. May God save us from being like the elder brother.


The Prodigal


The younger son asked for and got what he thought was his portion of the Father’s goods. In just a few days gathered everything together and left home. He took his journey into a far country. There he had no restraints to his lusts. And he wasted his substance in riotous living. Soon, everything was gone and “he began to be in want.” That is our nature and our practice, and becomes our condition, and very solemn it is.


Providential Famine


There came unto that land a mighty famine. “God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.” He has his ways; and they are never our ways. He is determined to fetch his chosen home, and all his creation is used, as he sees fit, to accomplish his purpose of grace (Rom. 8:28).


The means he used in this case was a famine, a mighty famine. People were dying all around him. The poor, haggard prodigal, in utter poverty and shame, hired himself out to a citizen of that country (Dr. Gill suggests he was a Pharisaic, legal preacher.), who sent him into his field to feed his hogs, to work his way back into his Father’s good graces. There he would have filled his belly with the husks of the hogs free-will, works religion, but no one gave him anything to satisfy his deep need.


Awakened Conscience


Then he appears to have had a stirring of his conscience, an awakening of sorts. ― “He came to himself” (v. 17).


His conscience seems to have said to him, ― “You fool. Look at yourself. Look at your filthy rags.” He looked them over, and blushed with shame. ― “Look where you are. Look at what you are doing. Look at yourself, in this hog pen, wallowing around in the slime of your free-will and in the muck of your own imaginary righteousness! Do you really think you can please your Father by this? Why, you can’t even eat this stuff. There’s nothing here to satisfy even you. And you think it is fit for God!”


Oh, blessed is that man or woman whose conscience is not yet seared with a hot iron! “When he came to himself,” the poor wretch began to reason ― “How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” ― What a contrast! Here is a man who was once the King’s son, possessor of all wealth and honor, with angels as his servants, in a hog pen, poor, filthy and starving!


With his Father’s house in his mind’s eye, his heart breaks, his eyes swell with tears, he hangs his head in shame, and he cries, “What have I done!” His heart goes back to the house he had forsaken and the Father he had despised, and he says,…


(Luke 15:18-19)  “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, (19) And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.”


Going Home


Broken, poor, helpless, utterly unworthy, with his head hanging low, he headed home, he headed to the Father’s throne of grace, the only place where there was any hope for such a wretch.


(Luke 15:20-21)  “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. (21) And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.”


The Father choked down all he could. He would hear no more. All was fully forgiven.


(Luke 15:22-24)  “But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: (23) And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: (24) For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.”




How did this happen? How did the prodigal get back home to the Father’s house? What was it that brought about such a change in this poor soul? God almighty brings sinners home by pouring upon them the Spirit of grace and of supplication (Zech. 12:10).


How does a man guide a horse? With a bit and bridle you lead a horse wherever you wish. That is how God almighty brings sinners to himself. Though, in the experience of it, it appears that God’s grace is his response to the sinner’s repentance, that is never in fact the case. God never waits for the sinner to take the initiative. The Father, in this parable, saw his son when he was yet a great way off. In fact, he never took the eyes of his care off him, because he never took the eyes of his heart off him.

·       Love saw him.

·       Love drew him.

·       Love pulled him.

·       Love moved his conscience.

·       Love guided his steps.

·       Love ran out to meet him.

·       Love received him.

·       Love fell on his neck and kissed him.

·       Love forgave him.

·       Love restored him.

·       Love threw a party for him

·       Love rejoiced over him.


O needy soul, come now to God our Father by faith in his dear Son, and you will find it so in your own experience of the Father’s infinite mercy, grace, and love!


Now, let’s look at our text.


(Luke 15:32)  “It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”


This is part of the Father’s answer to the ungrateful and ungracious elder son. This is the reason he gives for his gracious reception of sinners for Christ’s sake. ― “It was meet that we should make merry and be glad.” — I want us to focus our attention on these three words ― “It was meet.


What is this meetness? Why is it only right and reasonable for the God of glory to receive sinners, embrace them, and rejoice in their salvation? Let me give you six answers to that question from the Word of God.


Eternal Love


I.       It was meet because the sinner coming to God by faith in Christ is the object of God’s eternal love.


Our great God rejoices in grace and delights in mercy because he loves to love, and loves to show his love. “God is love;” and he loves freely. He says, regarding his own elect, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3). Every sinner who comes to God, trusting Christ, joyfully discovers what Paul declares in Romans 5:5. ― “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

·       It is as natural for God to communicate his love to chosen sinners as it is for the sun to give forth light.

·       It is as natural for the river of God’s love to run to his elect as it is for all rivers to run into the sea.

·       It is just as reasonable to expect fire not to give off heat as it is to expect God not to receive returning sinners in the arms of his everlasting love.


God is good. God is love. He cannot, I say he cannot turn his back upon a sinner seeking mercy in Christ. I say, he cannot, because he has said he will not, and he cannot lie.


If angels rejoice over repenting sinners, how much more will a God of love, who has made them repenting sinners, rejoice over them! This is exactly the character of our great God ― He receives sinners, and eats with them. An earthly father, we might expect to refuse a son who had despised his love, wasted all that love had given to him, and then came back home only because he had to, disgraced, degraded, and ragged. If any earthly father were so magnanimous and kind that he received such a son only with guarded suspicion, as a hired servant, we would praise such a man’s goodness. Would we not?


But here is the love of God, our heavenly Father — It is the very glory of his great love that he receives every needy sinner who comes to him by Christ Jesus, and esteems the sinner so highly that he esteems it his honor to forgive all his sin, justify him fully, sanctify him completely, and restore him totally for Christ’s sake!


“Sinners are high in His esteem,

And sinners highly value Him.”



Come then, O needy sinner, come;

To Christ in humble faith;

Owe what you may, the total sum

Is cancelled by His death!


How we ought to adore, how we ought to ever stand in absolute amazement before the infinite, matchless, immutable, indestructible love of God in Christ! It is my prayer that we may all be rooted and grounded in his love. May God give is grace to “be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:18-19).


“I stand amazed in the presence

Of Jesus the Nazarene,

And wonder how He could love me,

A sinner, condemned, unclean!

How marvelous! How wonderful!

And my song shall ever be ―

O how marvelous! O how wonderful

Is my Savior’s love for me!


(Rom 5:6-8)  “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. (8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”


(Gal 2:20)  “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”


(1 John 3:16)  “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”


(1 John 4:10)  “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”


(1 John 4:19)  “We love him, because he first loved us.”


“Could we with ink the oceans fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade ―

To write the love of God above

Would drain the oceans dry!

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Though stretched from sky to sky!”


Wonder of wonders this is. ― It is meet for our God to rejoice over and with poor sinners who come to him for grace!


A Rebuke


What a rebuke this is to the legal pride and self-righteousness that refuses to forgive and refuses to rejoice in God’s forgiveness of sinners, accepting them as the sons of God, perfect, whole and holy, in Christ Jesus!


It was meet to make merry because this poor soul was the object of God’s everlasting love.


Christ’s Satisfaction


II.    Second, it was meet for The Father to make merry, meet for the angels to make merry, meet for the restored son to make merry, meet for all the other restored sons to make merry, meet for the Holy Spirit to make merry, and meet for the Lord Jesus to make merry, because upon the return of the chosen sinner, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, the Son of God sees of the travail of his soul and is satisfied.


This was the joy set before him, for which the Son of God endured the cross, despising the shame.


(Isa 53:8-11)  “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. (9) And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. (10) Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. (11) He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”


Christ’s blood atonement makes the gracious reception of ransomed sinners both necessary and certain. Our Savior’s satisfaction makes it meet for the God of Glory to receive and rejoice in the salvation of every redeemed sinner. Look at our text again.


(Luke 15:32)  “It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”


Our Savior could not have used a stronger, more expressive word than the word “meet” to express the message of this text. The word means, “necessary, binding upon, must needs be, a matter of necessity.” When the Father says, It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found,” the meaning is this ― “It was right, reasonable, absolutely necessary, and binding upon us to make merry and be glad.”


How can that be possible? How can it be said that something is absolutely necessary and binding upon God almighty? It can be said that such a thing is so only if God himself has made it binding upon him.

·       The purpose of God is as binding upon him as his character.

·       And the justice of God is as binding upon him as his purpose.

·       Both God’s purpose and his justice make it binding upon our great God to receive, justify and forgive every sinner for whom Christ died at Calvary, rejoicing in the salvation of the redeemed.


Shall a blood bought sinner be rejected and repelled and turned back while, by the irresistible grace of God the Holy Spirit, he is coming in prayer and supplication to the throne of grace to obtain mercy in time of need? Never! As surely as the redeemed sinner is called, so surely shall he come. And as surely as he comes, so surely shall he be accepted.


(Psa 65:4)  “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.”


(Psa 110:3)  “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.”


This is the will of God and the promise of our Redeemer (John 6:37-40).


(John 6:37-40)  “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (38) For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. (39) And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. (40) And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”


·       The justice of God, being satisfied by Christ’s precious blood, demands the salvation of every sinner for whom Christ died (Rom. 3:24-26). ― No believer can be denied grace, salvation, and eternal life in Christ.


(Rom 3:24-26)  “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (26) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”


·       The satisfaction of Christ’s soul’s travail demands the salvation of all for whom he endured the travail of his soul. ― No believer can be denied grace, salvation, and eternal life in Christ.


·       The joy of Christ demands the salvation of all for whom he endured the cross, despising the shame. ― No believer can be denied grace, salvation, and eternal life in Christ.


·       The fulness of Christ as our Mediator and Surety demands the salvation of all for whom he is a Mediator and Surety (Eph. 1:22-23). ― No believer can be denied grace, salvation, and eternal life in Christ.


(Eph 1:22-23)  “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, (23) Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”


Come, then, needy souls, come to Christ, assured of this fact. Him that cometh to the Son of God he will in no wise cast out! As surely as you come to God by faith in Christ, there shall be a party in heaven because of you! It is meet! It is meet that all for whom that blood was shed should be cleansed by it. No arguments against it will ever prevail in the court of heaven. Let none prevail in the court of your own soul.


Come in, thou blessed of the Lord! Come in, maimed and lame and blind and halt! ― Come in, poor and miserable! ― Come in, fraudulent bankrupt sinner! ― What a gospel God has given us! ― It is meet on the ground of the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the prodigal to be received with joy into the Father’s house!


Christ’s Intercession


III. Not only is it meet for God to receive and forgive, justify and save poor sinners because of his everlasting love and Christ’s sin-atoning death, ― It is meet because of the intercession of Christ (John 17:9-10, 17, 20-26).


The Father must receive the sinner who comes to him because of Christ’s intercession. He bears our names upon his holy heart as our great High Priest in heaven. Hear his intercession at the Father’s throne and rejoice!


(John 17:9-10)  I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. (10) And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.”


(John 17:17)  Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”


(John 17:20-26)  “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; (21) That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (22) And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: (23) I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (24) Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (25) O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. (26) And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”


“The Father hears Him pray,

His dear Anointed One!

He cannot turn away

The presence of His Son!”


His Son


IV.           Fourth, it was meet for the Father to receive and rejoice in receiving the poor prodigal, because he was his son.


Perhaps you are thinking, “But, Bro. Don, I fear I am not.” I cannot answer that question for you; but the Word of God does.


The Lord God himself declares, every sinner who is born again is a son. ― “He that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (John 6:47). ― “He that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life” (John 3:36). He is begotten again by the incorruptible seed, “by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pet. 1:23). And what does God see in a son? His own nature ― we are made “partakers of the divine nature” because we were “predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). And he sees more.


The reason why God our Father must receive and rejoice in receiving every sinner who comes to him in Christ’s name ― He sees Christ himself, the Object of his love, that One in whom his soul delights, coming home to heaven by the merit of his perfect obedience and blood atonement, without sin, holy, without blame, and unreproveable in his sight!


His House Filling


V.  Fifth, it is meet for God our Father to receive sinners and rejoice in them, because in the salvation of sinners he sees his house being filled and his blessed invitations and promises in the gospel being fulfilled.


(Luke 14:23)  “And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”


When the Lord God our Savior says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” he means it. He really means it. And it is meet, when the ever-gracious Savior sees at his heavenly footstool a believing sinner, for him to rejoice. What man is not filled with joy when he sees his house full of his children?


His Grace


VI.           And sixth, it is meet because in the return of the prodigal the triune God sees the blessed result of all his marvelous works of grace.


(Luke 15:32)  “It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”


He sees his son returning home, and cries, “Rejoice for ever in that which I create. For behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people a joy” (Isa. 65:18). “He that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit” (2 Cor. 5:5).


It is hard to believe that God can ever take any pleasure in such wretched, sinful creatures as we are; but, blessed be his name, he does! He “taketh in them that fear him.”


The prodigal would call his Father’s attention to his sinfulness. When he said to himself, “I will say, Make me as one of thy hired servants,” it was as if he were saying, “I will show my Father my rags, and declare that I am not fit for his house, that I am not fit to be in his presence. I will demonstrate how much I loathe myself by my rags.” But the Father, said, as he choked those words down, “Oh, this is my son! Bring forth the best robe ― I will justify him. Bring forth the family ring and seal to him all my grace and goodness. Make him know that I am his and he is mine forever. Make him know that I will never leave him and will never let him leave me. Put the shoes of steadfastness on his weak feet. Bring out the fatted calf and cause him to feed upon it, ever knowing that all is well forever because Christ died! By these things, make my son to know that there is forgiveness with me, and with me is plenteous redemption!”

·       This, my son was dead. Now he is alive, alive forever!

·       He was lost. Now he is found, and can never be lost again!


Come now to Christ. Come home to God by the blood and righteousness of God’s dear Son, and God will receive you, declare you righteous, forgive you of all sin forever, and rejoice over you, because it is meet!