Read Luke 15:11-24.
The younger son makes a basely awful request of his father—he demands his inheritance—now. In that Middle Eastern culture, such a request was akin to telling the father, "I wish you were dead already."
That's how much the father loves his son. He is willing to suffer any shame to be with his beloved child.
Now, the Pharisees listening to this story would have been incredulous at the audacity of this son, but more than that, they would have been reeling at the response of the father, who let his son go with his inheritance. Jesus' parable was designed to unsettle them with how incomprehensible, how longsuffering, how generous, how humble, how inexhaustible the love of the father, who, of course, represents our heavenly Father.
The younger son burns all the bridges—or so he thinks. But sometime later, in a far country, the money dries up. In no time at all, he finds himself alone and in need. He goes to work for a pig farmer, and in his poverty, he craves the food the pigs are eating and finally comes to his senses and decides to go home.
He knows he is not worthy to return as a son, but maybe his father will take him as a servant. This experience is at the core of the Christian faith. Only when a person comes to the realization they are totally broken and desperate for a Savior will they bend their knee to the Lord Jesus Christ. Only then will they come and say, "Father, forgive me."
Jesus' hearers would have expected any respected Jewish father to berate the son, to force him to endure humiliation and scorn to earn his forgiveness. But not the father of Jesus' parable: "But while [the son] was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him" (Luke 15:20). In the Middle East to this day, a dignified man never runs—that would be humiliating. But that's how much the father loves his son. He is willing to suffer any shame to be with his beloved child.
The younger son comes to the father just as he is. He comes filthy and tired and hungry. Brothers and sisters, all we can do is come as we are. We simply repent and give ourselves to Him, and He rejoices; He embraces us—a sign of acceptance; He kisses us—a sign of reconciliation; He cleans us—an assurance of forgiveness; He puts His robe on us—the righteousness of Christ.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your wondrous love and forgiveness. I am overwhelmed with Your compassion and generosity toward me, receiving me as Your reconciled, beloved child. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him" (Luke 15:20).
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