Why The Distant Country?
WHY THE DISTANT COUNTRY?
I would like to ask you to look once again at verses 13-14.
“And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. “Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be in need.
“Why do people (young people, middle aged, even older people) go to the ‘distant country’?”
- What is its “appeal? Is it the “loose living?”
- Why was this boy so eager to leave his Father where everything he needed was supplied?
- He had a Father who gave him love…who gave Him security…and safety.
What is it about people, that we set out for the very destinations that we know we should not be going to?
- Why do some of us who are safe with our Father, who wants to protect us from things that will harm us and destroy us, why do we want to take that “drink.”
- Or experience that immoral relationship.
- Or leave our Father for all the glitz and glitter that the “distant country” offers.
- Why do we choose to do that?
And it is a choice.
- When you/I go to the “distant country”…when you/I commit sin it was not something we did in ignorance.
- We might look back on it now and say, “Boy, was that stupid.”
- But at the time it was a choice that we made.
- We knew inside that it was not what we should be doing.
- Why do we go down that road and leave our Father?
One answer might be our constant quest to find excitement…to be entertained…to find thrill.
- Or maybe we are searching for what we hope will make us
- Or wanting to find that which will make everything better than it is right now.
So we take off down that road to the “distant country” and we try things…things that people promise will make us happy.
- Sometimes those things come in a bottle or a syringe.
- Sometimes they come in a secret place that some woman other than your wife, or some man other than your husband has agreed to.
- The “distant country” says that happiness can be found in a variety of ways.
And notice, the young son in this parable thought it could be bought.
- In fact, he squandered all that he had trying to buy it.
- If it came in a bottle he bought one.
- If he needed friends, he bought them.
- If he wanted to party…he bought that too.
- If he was looking for sexual gratification…he had the money.
- Whatever he thought he needed to be happy, he just bought it.
And you know as well as I do that the “distant country” is a master at telling us that the happiness and joy we seek is just “one more purchase away.”
- The “distant country” has a great department of public relations and tourism.
- The “distant country” or sin puts out the absolute finest quality brochures of any country you can visit.
- No place seems to be more fun.
- No place seems to have more glitter.
- Nothing promises more excitement than sin when it packages itself like it can.
Every day people go home and turn on that little electronic marvel in their front room that we call television, or turn on that computer, or connect to the internet on the phone..
- And, when they turn that thing on, or make that connection, they are going to be lied to the minute they turn it on to the minute they turn it off.
First of all, that box is going to tell them its perverted idea of what and where “happiness” is…and that it is ok to do whatever they have to obtain that happiness.
- And then that box is going to promise them/you/I, if we will just listen, that a six pack of beer, or a new car, or a certain kind of jeans, is going to turn our world around.
- That you will have better sex, a better job, more excitement…and a world of happiness.
But do you know what the problem is?
- The problem is that the advertisements from the “distant country” never show what that kind of lifestyle leads too.
- They only show you the rose and not the thorns that are beneath it.
- It doesn’t tell you that verse 13 is followed by verse 14.
The “distant country’s” public relations department doesn’t tell you/I what Jesus says here.
- And I can assure you, what Jesus says here is true…because it is impossible for God to lie.
I want you to notice how low Jesus takes this young man.
- He is off in the “distant country” and he has all the friends he needs…until he is out of money.
- And then a famine comes…and when he needs food to eat…where are the friends that he had when he had the money?
So he goes to find any kind of work he can find and he is hired by a man who cares absolutely nothing for him.
- In fact, the man he works for in this “distant country” values pigs more than he does this boys life.
- He gives him food for the pigs…but none for him.
- “If I have to choose between who dies today, I would rather keep the pigs alive.”
The “distant country” doesn’t tell you/I all of this…it just shows us the glitz and the glamour.
- It doesn’t show us the drunk behind the drink made from the Rocky Mountain spring water.
- It doesn’t show us the divorce and the shattered lives behind the drugs.
- It doesn’t show the poverty or the desperation…or the neglect behind the gambling…or the “loose living”.
- It doesn’t show the shame, and embarrassment, and the hardship caused by the immoral lifestyle.
- The “distant country” doesn’t show us all of that.
Notice what this young man learned about his time in the “distant country.”
- He learned the hard way that the “distant country” doesn’t deliver what it promises.
- Gone was his integrity, his independence and his fortune.
- The “distant country” left him starving and dying…and worse than all of that, vs. 24 says that it left him “dead” and “lost.”
In fact, the only two things he had left were his memory and his ability to think.
- And so it says in verse 17, “When he came to his senses”…
- Every parent who has a child in the far country prays every day for those 5 words.
- “Lord, help him come to his senses.”
- Sadly, the only time some come to their senses is when they are with the hogs.
“When he came to his senses,” he said, “How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!” ‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” And he got up and came to his father.
Many look at this story…and what this young man did…and they shake their heads and say, “How sad…how foolish he was.”
- But, as foolish as he was, he at least realized what was happening to him.
- He realized that he was starving to death.
- And he had sense enough to come back to the father.
Most do not realize that.
- You see, it is possible to grow accustomed to living in the muck.
- Some people live in the pig pen all of their lives, they get used to it.
- They never come to grips with their futile lifestyle.
This boy came to his senses and he was honest enough to admit that what he was doing was killing him.
- And then he was smart enough to know that he needed to go back to his father…and then he was courageous enough to go!
- Today, many know where they need to come too…they know they too need to come back to the father.
- But sadly…they refuse.
How many, perhaps some of us…know what we need to do…but just won’t.
- And because we won’t…we too will die a prisoner of our own appetites.
This boy came to his senses, and look what he does.
In verse 18, Jesus says some very specific things that this boy said once he came to his senses and realized the truth about himself.
Notice, the boys says, “I have sinned.”
- He has confronted his real problem.
And that is what it is.
- Today we look for all kinds of reasons why people’s lives are in a mess.
- Poor education…bad parents…racism….injustices…no religion…poverty.
- We find all kinds of reasons.
- But the real reason for all of our problems is “sin.”
And notice, this boy didn’t do what a lot of people do today.
- He didn’t say, “It is my father’s fault, he shouldn’t have given me that money and let me go.”
- He didn’t say, “It is the ‘distant country’s’ fault, they deceived me.”
- He didn’t say, “It is my older brother’s fault…he was a hypocrite.”
- No, this boys says, “It is my fault…I have sinned.”
And then in verse 19 he says to his father, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son, make me as one of your hired men.”
- Completely humble and subject to the will of the Father.
- Too many want to come to the Father and say, “I want to come home…but I want to do this and I want to do that.”
- They want to make demands of the Father.
- “I want to do it my way.”
- That is what got this boy in trouble in the first place.
This boy came home completely humble…realizing he had no right to receive mercy.
- And yet, because he did…the father extends his mercy and grace on him…and restores him to full son-ship.
In some form or fashion we have all left the Father and gone to the “distant country”…we have given in to sin.
- And many have realized that their journey there has made a mess of their life.
- Perhaps you are one of them.
But do you know what…it is not a one way street to that country.
- When you get there you do not have to stay.
In this parable, Jesus says, “Acknowledge your sin and confess your unworthiness, and then get up and go back home.”
- This boy did, and do you know what he found out?
- He found out that his father will run to meet him.
- And God will run to meet you too.
God wants you to come home. So the moral of the story is: quit looking for love in all the wrong places and get back to where you belong.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023