Sermon #1355                                           Miscellaneous Notes


          Title:            “BRING HITHER THE FATTED CALF”

          Text:            Luke 15:23-24

          Reading:      1 John 1:1-2:2

          Subject:       The Feast Spread For Sinners in The House Of God

          Date:            Sunday Morning – August 8, 1999

          Tape #         V-40a



          Everyone loves a party. I do not know anyone who does not enjoy going to a good party, -- a birthday party, -- a wedding party, -- an anniversary party, -- a graduation party, -- a dinner party. It doesn’t really matter what the occasion is, I just like parties. Don’t you?


          I want to talk to you today about a party, a party thrown by God almighty, to celebrate the salvation of sinners. You will find my text in Luke 15: 23-24


And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:    For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.  (Luke 15:23-24)


          While the worship of God is the most serious business and the greatest privilege in the world…


Proposition: When sinners meet together in the house of God to hear the gospel and worship the triune God, it is a celebration of grace, redemption, and salvation, a feast of joy.


          In order for us to grasp the message of this parable, we ought to bear in mind the thing which inspired it. If you want to know the meaning and message of any portion of Scripture, always read it and interpret it in its context. Look at the first two verses of this chapter, and you will see that our Lord Jesus gave this delightful parable in response to the haughty, self-righteous snobbery of the Pharisees.


Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.    And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.  (Luke 15:1-2)


          What a picture we have before us! Here is the Lord of glory encircled by a crowd of publicans and sinners, alluring them into his almighty, merciful arms. I never cease to be amazed at how comfortable sinners were in the presence of the Son of God. I never cease to marvel at how very much at home he was (and is) in the company of publicans, harlots, and sinners! How thankful I am that it is the character and delight of the Lord Jesus Christ that “This man who is God receiveth sinners, and eateth with them!”


          But there is another crowd, all standing at a distance, huddled together in little groups, pointing their fingers, sneering with a glare of disgust in their eyes, a crowd of good, upstanding, church going, Bible thumping religious people. – These good people dared not stand too close, lest someone think they were also sinful. – These good, religious scribes and Pharisees drew back from that holy spot where the Savior of the world touched needy souls with his saving power. – With scorn and indignation, they showed their contempt for the Son of God and the grace of God in him. With words of contempt, they spoke, like gossiping women about Immanuel. But that which they considered his great fault was and is his great glory. They said, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them!”


          Now, look at verse 3 – “And he spake this parable unto them.” O this parable was given in response to the Pharisees accusation. The parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son was our Lord’s way of saying, -- I do, indeed, receive sinners and eat with them.


          Well it is for you and me that he does! What other hope is there for us? Did he not receive sinners, he could not receive me. Did he not spread his table for sinners, he could not feed me. Did he not open his house to sinners, he could never take me in. Blessed, blessed, blessed Savior Christ is! He came down here to seek and save sinners! The Pharisees’ reproach is our Savior’s glory and our souls’ everlasting joy. -- “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them!”


          With that glorious fact in mind, let’s look at verses 23 and 24. We have seen what sinners are in the prodigal son. We have seen how the God of all grace, the God of glory, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ receives sinners for Christ’s sake – (verses 18-22).


I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,    And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.    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.    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.    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:  (Luke 15:18-22)


          Now, in verses 23 and 24, our Lord Jesus shows us how he eats with us sinners. Every time we come together in the house of God in the name of Christ, the triune God meets us in the person of his dear Son; and here he “receiveth sinners and eateth with them!


          Let me say that one more time. I know that this man, this God-man, receives sinners and eats with them, because he receives me, the very chief of sinners, and eats with me, the most unworthy of all the objects of his matchless grace!


I.                   The Lord God has furnished a table, spead with fat things, rich, soul-satisfying food, and bids us feast with him in his house!


This, poor prodigal, in the days of his rebellion, tried to feed his soul upon the pleasures of sin, but only impoverished himself more. He tried to feed his soul with the husks of works religion; but found nothing in the swine’s food to satisfy his soul.


          But, now, he has come home to his father’s house. In his father’s house, eating at his father’s table, he feeds as one of the king’s sons on fat things.[1] Here is a command given by the father to his servants. – A command given by our heavenly Father to those who are called and sent of him to preach the gospel.


And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill [it]; and let us eat, and be merry:  (Luke 15:23)


A.      Gospel preachers are responsible to bring forth the fatted calf and kill it.


          This fatted calf, of course, represents the Lord Jesus Christ, our crucified Savior. The Lord Jesus here describes himself by making allusion to the calves offered in sacrifice, which were offered for sin offerings, and for peace offerings, and for burnt offerings; and were one of the sacrifices on the day of atonement.


·        Christ offered himself up, freely and voluntarily, in the room and stead of his people.

·        He gave himself and made himself to be an offering and sacrifice to God, of a sweet smelling savor.

·        He is a sacrifice that is well pleasing to God, because he is an effectual sacrifice.

·        He accomplished the purposes for which he came.

·        Because he is an effectual sacrifice for sin, his sacrifice will never be repeated.


This one sacrifice for sin has forever satisfied and silenced the law and justice of God, procured peace and reconciliation for his people, and made full atonement and expiation for all our iniquities, transgressions, and sins.


By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [for all].    And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:    But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;    From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.    For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.  (Hebrews 10:10-14)


No doubt, there is also an allusion here to the feasts and lavish celebrations so often spoken of among the Jews in the Old Testament, celebrations in which fatted calves were the central part of the feast (Gen. 18:7,8; 1 Sam. 28:24,25; Amos 6:4; Mal. 4:2).


Christ is the best provision that can be set before eternity bound sinners, the best for you who are lost and the best for you who are saved. We must feed upon him, always upon him, and only upon him.


Christ is the best that God can give, and the best we can desire. He is the true Manna. He is real Bread, the Bread of Life for our souls, sweet, savory, and satisfying. This is Bread that gives life and preserves it; nourishes, strengthens, refreshes, delights, and fattens.


*** -- It is the business, privilege and responsibility, of the gospel preacher, every time he speaks in God’s name, every time he preaches to eternity bound souls to bring forth the fatted calf and kill it. -- To preach Christ and him crucified. – To open the Scriptures, showing in all the Scriptures things concerning Christ. -- To set him before all with clarity and simplicity, bidding all to feed upon him.


Killing” the fatted calf is the setting forth of Christ crucified, preaching the cross, proclaiming the gospel.


So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.    For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.    For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.  (Romans 1:15-17)


  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.    For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:    But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;    But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.  (1 Corinthians 1:21-24)


B.      The preaching of the gospel is the spreading of a feast, bidding and encouraging hungry souls to eat, to feast upon Christ, to the saving and satisfying of their souls.


The Father himself says through his servants, “Let us eat and be merry!”


I like a quotation given by Gill. It goes ``there is no mirth without eating and drinking.'' If you are going to make merry, you have got to have a feast.


This is a wide, far reaching invitation and encouragement to eat of the fatted calf. The people called upon to eat are the Father, the servants, and the returned son.


1.     The Father is set before us as one to whom the salvation of his people, by the death of Christ, is a feast. -- His heart was set upon this from everlasting. -- He is infinitely well pleased with Christ, as the surety of his people, and has been from all eternity. -- His eye has been upon Christ as our surety throughout the ages. -- He sent him forth with great pleasure in the fulness of time. – It pleased the Lord to bruise him for us. – God the Father accepted Christ’s sacrifice with delight. -- He takes pleasure in seeing us feed upon our crucified Savior. – This is where God meets men and communes with them! – This feast of grace is the great glory of the church, the greatest blessing there is on the earth, and a foretaste of heaven.


2.      The Servants – Gospel preachers are among the "us", who are to eat. God’s servants also eat and live upon a crucified Christ.


3.     The Returned Son --  Saved sinners are those for whom the Gospel feast is primarily and specifically spread. It is true, the feast is spread before all. But it is spread specifically for you who are hungry, for you who long to feed upon Christ. – Are you hungry? – “Come and dine!” – The feast is spread for you!


Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.    Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.    For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.    He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.    As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.    This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.  (John 6:53-58)


C.      Let us eat with joy! The joy of faith.


Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.  (Ecclesiastes 9:7)


          Perhaps some of you are thinking, “Why all the fuss? What is there here to make you people so happy? Oh, how I wish you knew. Listen. Maybe the Lord God will do for you what he has one for me.


II.               The cause of our merriment is God’s free, sovereign, saving mercy in Christ.


This is what the Holy Spirit describes as “the joy of faith,” the joy of salvation, the joy of the Lord.


For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.  (Luke 15:24)


          Look at this sentence word by word, and remember with gladness the grace of God that is upon you and in you.


A.   For this my son was dead.”


This is the reason for all the spiritual joy and happiness found in the Father’s house.


1.     God the Father acknowledges the returning penitent as his son.


He directs our attention to our blessed experience of his saving grace. Though we behaved so wickedly, though we judged ourselves unworthy of such overwhelming grace, the Lord God has sent his Spirit, the Spirit of adoption into our hearts, and declares that we are his sons, the sons and daughters of God!


2.     We were dead. – “This, my son, was dead!”


·        Dead in Adam!

·        Dead in Sin!

·        Dead at Law!

·        Dead Spiritually!


Look at the next line…


B.   This my son was dead, and is alive again!”


This is what that means -- The Spirit of life from Christ entered into him. Christ was formed in his heart. A principle of life was infused into him. The divine image was stamped upon his soul. His understanding was enlightened to understand the things of God. His heart was set upon things above. His will was made to be subject to God, to his will, to his Word. He bowed, willingly bowed to Christ his King, and gladly submitted to his righteousness, trusting him alone for everlasting salvation. In a word, he was made a new creature in Christ!


Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  (2 Corinthians 5:17)


And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins;    Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:    Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.    But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,    Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  (Ephesians 2:1-5)


          Read on…


C.   “He was lost!


·        Lost in Adam.

·        Lost in Sin.

·        Lost in Darkness.

·        Lost in a Lost World!


D.   This my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost, and is found!”


·        Found by the Father’s Electing Love.

·        Found by the Son’s Redeeming Blood.

·        Found by the Spirit’s Irresistible Grace.


I was lost, but Jesus found me,

Found His sheep that went astray!

Threw His loving arms around me,

Drew me back into His way!

Sin! O sing the wondrous story,

Of the Christ Who died for me!

Sing it now, and sing in glory,

Of salvation full and free!


·        Found in Christ – Now! – Tomorrow! – At the Last Day! – Forever!


          Let me show you one more thing, and I’m done.




A.   Who began to be merry?


1.     The Father began to be merry.

2.     The restored son began to be merry.

3.     All the Father’s servants began to be merry.


·        The Holy Angels.

·        The Preachers of the Gospel.


Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.  (Luke 15:10)


4.     All in the Father’s house began to be merry, except that one older son – The self-righteous scribes and Pharisees to whom the parable was addressed!


But we must not fail to notice this…


B.   The merriment has only just begun!


There’s a party in heaven every time a sinner repents, a party begun, which shall never end! Surely, if the angels in light and the God of glory rejoice over one sinner who repents, when a solitary soul is converted by God’s almighty grace, we ought to do the same.


1.     Let this be the preacher’s prayer before, during, and after the sermon. – “Lord God, be pleased now to fetch some lost soul home for the glory of your name.”


2.     Let this be the prayer of this church, as we labor together in the cause of Christ. – “Blessed Son of God, use us to fetch your banished ones again.”


3.     Let this be the daily prayer of every believing mother and father. – “O Holy Spirit, come upon my children! Blessed Savior, have mercy on me. My children are grievously vexed by the devil!”


·        Perhaps, the next joy in heaven shall be over the one for whom you were praying as you came into the house of God an hour ago!


·        Perhaps the next joy in heaven will be over that sinner who has just heard the tape you gave him, read the tract you laid in his hand, heard the radio or television broadcast you asked him to hear, or heard the missionary for whom you have been praying today!

[1] In the Word of God “fat” things refer to the richest, best, most satisfying, most delightful things. The fattest is the best, the choicest, the most excellent thing. The blessings of God are always referred to as “fat things” (Gen. 45:18; 49:20; Num. 18:12; Ps. 36:8).