By Jay Cookingham (Soulfari)
The parable in Luke 15 shouts with the love and compassion the Father has towards us. See if you can spot the lessons He would love for us to learn from this story.
"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.""
See how the father was expecting his son’s return! You don’t see people a long way’s off unless you are watching intently for them to appear. Day after day he continues his watch until one day He checks again and sees a figure, one he is familiar with. He is so excited, that he starts to run! He could have waited until his son reached him; after all he is the father and the one wronged. The father risks a loss of respect to run to a son considered lost, spiritually dead to the family, and does not hesitate a moment.
Here’s a point that I find wonderful, the son could also see his father coming after him! Imagine him practicing his lines; wondering about the response he’ll receive by his return. His head is bowed, he’s dressed in rags and he still reeks of pig dip. He lifts his head just a little and from a distance he sees his daddy trucking down the road towards him. Soon daddy is all over him, throwing his arms around him and kissing him. Dressed in rags, dirty and foul smelling, his father doesn’t wait until his son is cleaned up to embrace him with compassion. He was on a roll now and wasn’t about to stop.
“And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.”
The son repents, possibly waiting for the other shoe to drop, and waits for the father’s response. The father addresses his son’s statement with action that reveals his huge heart.
“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.'”
Daddy is going to act quickly in reversing the social stigma and spiritual position of his son. In front of servants and townsfolk he has made this public display of acceptance.
The best robe of the household was the father’s own robe, the one he would wear to special events and to town meetings. It was a special garment, one that identified the father as an important man, now it will make the same pronouncement about the son. The servants were instructed to put the robe on the son, servants didn’t dress servants they dressed sons! The father is making some real serious relational statements here.
The trip home had been difficult for the son and the father noticed the condition of his boy’s feet. Barefoot, dirty, bruised and calloused, they looked like the feet of a slave. His father makes sure that his boy’s next steps would be one of a son and before the kid knows it; he has shoes for his weary feet. What was left? I believe his weary spirit; look at verse 23 and 24.
“Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate.”
“For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.”
The father throws a party! The fattened calf was set-aside for important guests and sacred celebrations, but this one honored both! Jesus uses this parable to show us the extent the Father will go in restoring us. As we leave the pig sty behind and draw near to him we’ll see how close He has always been.
When you feel lost, it’s hard to believe the Father loves you. The reality is that the Father has seen you coming for a longtime. When you come to your senses and return home, it’s good to remember this truth. There is nothing you’re covered with that will keep the Father from embracing you. When we sin, when we are worried, when we doubt, when we are afraid…we are no less valuable to God.
He is that loving and that approachable!
I was born and raised in Poughkeepsie, New York, just about 80 miles north of the Big Apple. My family and I live in Hyde Park, New York, the former home of Franklin Roosevelt, but I didn't let that stop us from living there. Seriously, it's a real nice town, rich with history. My wife Christine and I have been happily married for 28 years and have seven (yes seven) children, five boys and two girls. I am passionate about my relationships, with God and my family, they are the fuel for my creativity and the drive to finish strong.