11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “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. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Not only do we have a Father who regrets our rebellion but we also have a Father who:
- Runs to us when we return
The prodigal son didn’t fare well in the far country, at first he lived high on the hog but it wasn’t very long and he was living with the hogs. In verse 13 Jesus describes his demise with six words: He “squandered his wealth in wild living.” He spent his wealth on the world ended up having nothing to show for it. Sin never satisfies it only brings suffering. Our choices come with consequences, are you going to serve self with what God has given you and squander His gifts or serve Him? It was in the pig pen that Jesus says he “came to his senses” and remembered that even the servants in his father’s house had it better than he did. Even though they were farmhands there was plenty to eat on the father’s farm and here he was begging to fill his belly with the pods that the pigs were eating. So he swallowed his pride and headed back home. It is here that we see how the father receives the rebellious son and discover the depths of the fathers love. The father could have rejected the rebellious son, telling him that because he had lived like a pig he should go back to his pigs. Today we would say “you’ve made your bed, now lie in it” but the father doesn’t respond with rejection. Even though the son had broken his heart he still looked for and longed for him. Standing at the edge of his property scripture says that the father saw the son while he was still a long way off. It’s here that we see the father doing the most amazing thing; he sprinted out to meet his son. What filled the father and caused him to race to his son was compassion. Now in Jewish culture, men wore long robes and in order to run they would have had to lift the hem up and hold it high to keep from tripping over it. This would have exposed his bare legs and would have been considered common and highly undignified. You see men of respect never ran. Jesus tells us about a father who is willing to publicly humiliating himself by rushing out to embrace us even after we have squandered a large part of the family fortune. There is no solemn lecture from the Father, “I hope you’ve learned your lesson!” Instead there were hugs and kisses and the declaration that “this son was dead, and is alive, he was lost, and is found” and then he adds a phrase of praise, “they began to make merry.” The father threw his arms around the son kissing him, the Greek verb here indicates that he kept on kissing him. The father smothered the son with kisses, but remember this is the son who had been working in the pigpen. He would have looked awful and smelled even worse, he would not have been the ideal candidate to hug and kiss. The father could have commanded him to clean himself up first before he came back into his house. But instead, the father accepted him “just as he was.” What blocks forgiveness is not the father, his arms are always extended, no it is us who chose not to come. But when we do head for home, the father meets us more than halfway. Jesus reveals that God runs to meet us when we decided to return to Him. Some of you have drifted out of fellowship with the father. You feel like God is far away from you but God didn’t walk away from you, you walked out on Him. The good news is that God is a loving Father who is longing for you to return. His message is one of mercy. What is God really like? Many see Him as a mean ogre watching and waiting for us to make a mistake so that he can punish us. But that is not the God that Jesus described, God is passionate about prodigals. Instead He is the complete opposite; He is a loving, compassionate God who cares deeply about you. It is not enough to just believe in God, you must believe in the God of the Bible. Charles Spurgeon as he described this scene said: “It was not with icy eyes that the father looked on his returning son. Love filled his heart as he beheld him. There was no anger in his heart toward his son. It was true that it was all his own fault, but that did not come before his father’s mind. It was the state that he was in, his poverty, his degradation, that pale face of his son filled with hunger, that touched his father to the quick. We read that the father RAN! The compassion of God is followed by swift movements. He is slow to anger, but He is quick to bless. God comes flying in the greatness of His compassion to help every poor soul that returns to Him.” You see we have a God who not only regrets our rebellion but runs to us when we return. So let me ask you what God do you believe in? Is it the One that Jesus revealed or do you have a corrupted concept of Him. Do you need to revisit scripture and revise your belief about God and His grace? Today if you are on the run, living in rebellion, then it’s time to return home and discover the depths of the Fathers forgiveness.