A Loving Father and a Lost Son
In the first part of Luke 15, we see the Pharisees and scribes complaining about Jesus. The main conflict they had was the fact that Jesus sat and ate with sinners. They felt that if Jesus was such a holy man, there was no way He was supposed to be associated with anyone that was known as unclean or of lower status on the righteousness scale.
Jesus then addresses these religious teachers who are saying these things through parables.
He first tells the story of a shepherd with 99 sheep. One sheep in this parable is lost and Jesus tells how the flock isn’t complete until the shepherd found the one sheep that strayed away. He then emphasizes the joy of the shepherd when his lost sheep is finally found.
In verse 8, Jesus then begins telling the story of the lost coin. In this parable, a woman has a special set of coins and she loses one of them. She begins her search and won’t stop the search until it is found. It’s worth noting that she didn’t stop for anything until she found what she lost.
After He tells these two stories, He goes into one more parable to further emphasize his example. We see this parable in Luke 15:11. The story begins with a son and his father. The son is seen asking for his inheritance from his father. The father divides his wealth and gives it to him. The son then goes off to a far country and pursues a wild lifestyle. He lived unrestrained in this country. Anything he wanted he went after; he filled up his life with the passions of the flesh.
After he lived this way for a time, a famine hit the land he was living in. Soon he finds himself poor and with nothing left. He then goes to work for a man and starts feeding pigs for a living. At one point he’s so hungry that he desires to eat what the swine eat. Verse 16 says “He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything”.
Once he was a wealthy man’s son, who had every single one of his needs met. Now he puts himself in this terrible position made by his own choices where he’s wasting his life with reckless living. He has nothing left. We can only imagine the emotions he’s experiencing at this point. The young man must have asked himself the question “How did I end up like this?”.
The Nature of the Love of God
Jesus continues to tell the group about this prodigal son. Luke 15:17 explains, “But when he came to himself”. The prodigal son had a critical moment in this story. He came to the end of himself. We, in this story, are the lost son and the father represents our heavenly father.
Eventually, the prodigal son realizes his father’s character back home: his goodness and kindness. He even remembers how his father’s servants were well taken care of. Verse 17 says, “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!”
Typically it’s not pain or hardship that brings us to God again. It is the love of God that returns us to Him. It’s actually his goodness that causes us to understand that we don’t have to live the way we are. In Romans 2:4, His Word shows us that it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance.
The prodigal son rises and decides to return to his father. This time he doesn’t desire to be a son but just a servant working in the fields. His heart was so genuine in his repentance that he didn’t even want to be viewed the same way in returning home. He was no longer demanding his own rights.
He was going home with a heart posture that said “I don’t have to have what I had before. I don’t need my old room back. Just put me with the rest of the servants and treat me like a worker”. The pathway back to God is to throw ourselves on His mercy and surrender ourselves completely by not demanding anything.
We can clearly see this when we look at David’s life. He won and failed so many different times with God. He had as many failures as he did victories but just like the son in Luke 15, he knew how to repent before the Lord. He knew when he messed up and remembered God who loved him. He threw himself at God’s mercy wanting to receive the punishment for his sin but God saw his repentant heart and had a response of love toward him.
He had an extravagant way of surrendering that brought powerful change in his life.
We’re closer to making our way back to God than we think.
His Word says that when the prodigal son was still a far way off, the father ran out to meet him and embraced him back home. He ran to his son, fell on his neck, and kissed him. He told his servants to get a robe for him and get a ring for his finger. He commands them to go and slay the best choice of meat for a celebration because his son finally returned home.
He ran after his son because he never gave up on him and he was waiting for him to return. All the father needed to see was the change of direction. He just needed to see that his son was coming back to the house so that he could take off on a full sprint to embrace him.
Jesus reveals to us the love of the Father in this story, how He eagerly waits for us to return to Him. When it comes to making our way back to God, the answer is simple: turn away from the things that we used to look to and return back to our heavenly father.
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