“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (1)
Nestled in Luke 15 is a short narration of a story of the prodigal son. It is a refection of the altruistic appeal of a father’s unconditional love for his wayward son. The father in the story typifies the heavenly Father. Thus, the graciousness of the father is a stunning light shining over the dark pathway of his son, a son who wanders off to a distant land then falls into a pathway of sin. In spite of the son’s rebellion, the father’s benevolent love holds goodwill towards his son, and lavishes gifts and honor.
The narrative opens with the prodigal son’s dissatisfaction with life, and a desire to find happiness. He asks his father for his inheritance. Traveling far from home he recklessly wastes his money on frivolous wild living, losing his dignity. This foolish son found himself in grim circumstances when his money was spent and a famine set in. He was miserable, lonely, and hungry when his troubles doubled with a severe famine. Desperate, he agrees to take a loathsome position of feeding pigs. Observing the pigs obtaining better care than he, he reflects on the kindness of his father’s provisions. He concludes it would be better to go home than to die of hunger. The wayward son makes a resolution to humbly go to his father, and plead for forgiveness, willing to be a servant to his father. He did not receive what he deserved, but by surprise received a blessing instead.
As this son traveled clumsily on to his father’s house, he felt heavy laden, brooding over his sin with guilt and shame. As he walked, he contemplated his father’s reprimand. Regretful tears flowed from his cheeks as he bemoaned the pain he caused. He wished he’d never left home; sorry he disappointed his father, discouraged with downcast eyes, each step he took seemed heavier than the next.
”The LORD your God among you is powerful— He will save and He will take joyful delight in you. In his love He will renew you with his love; He will celebrate with singing because of you.” (2)
Now come and peak into this father’s heart to see the melodies of mercy he sings over his once lost son. Why, even while the poor boy was a long way off, before he lifts his eyes, his father saw him and felt tender affections for him. He ran to meet him, throwing his arms around him and gently kissing him over and over again. Oh, so sweet were his father’s longings as he looked with pity into his son’s penitent eyes. He too noticed the rags he wore. Through his son’s filthy clothes, reeked the father did not look upon him as dirty and sinful, but saw the son he loved. Before the young man could say, “…Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” (3), the father gave him a holy kiss; thus melting away all doubts and fears. Then he called for a celebration, giving his son honor and gifts. He restored his position back into the family, reinforcing who he was, who he is, and who he belongs too – as if to say, you are mine, securing his pledge of belonging.
The father in the story represents the heavenly Father who is a God of reconciliation, pardoning sins. “The son was lost but now is found”, is its theme. God allowed him to go his own way. At his lowest point, when the son came to the end of himself, God intervened. God’s ways are not our ways; consider, while the prodigal was far away from home he found forgiveness and true life. This story is a call to repentance as God is calling out – longing to display His mercy. He readily waits to show His everlasting love which is unconditional, free and pure. He calls, so that you would receive Him, and find life.
O Holy Father, You have demonstrated an incomprehensible of love to me. How then can I choose to refuse the gracious appeal to find life in You? Teach me Lord, Your everlasting ways. Amen.
1. Matthew 15:20 nas
2. Zephaniah 3:17 isv
3. Matthew 15:21 nas
Such a beautiful story of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness!