I realize I have brought up the story of the “prodigal” son many times, but the story is so poignant, I have to keep bringing it up. Every time I read it, I find something else that amazes me. You will only find the story in Luke’s Gospel, so maybe the story was so special him, he just had to share it. This story has several names, “Two Sons,” or “Lost Son” or even the “prodigal father.” Actually, that last one through me a little because I always thought “prodigal” meant, “Rashly or wastefully extravagant.” That would certainly have applied to the behavior of one son. However, I found another definition:
Giving or given in abundance; lavish or profuse: prodigal praise. (See Synonyms of profuse).
You know, being a father I understand what the he was feeling: “My son! My son!” There is nothing in the heart of a father that could end that love and commitment. When I read the story, I believe the prodigal knew this. That was the only thing that allowed him to return home. What I am saying is that he returned home because of his history with his father.
Think about that. He must have had a great memory of his father, or he would never have wanted to return. Now Jesus began the story by saying, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate” (Luke 15:12). I don’t know you caught this or not, but the youngest son was saying, “Look dad, I know you are going to die eventually, and frankly it doesn’t matter to me . . . I want my share of the estate now.” That is rather heartless, don’t you think?
However, when he was lying with the pigs, he remembered what his dad was reallylike. Maybe he needed to experience life the hard way before he could discover that most people are hardhearted and rude. Now, if his dad had been mean; overbearing; condescending and impossible to live with, do you really believe the son would ever have wanted to return to him? No! Of course, he wouldn’t. I don’t care how desperate things became for him.
However, this young man knew his father’s character. He knew what his father was like—and had apparently received a tremendous amount love and support from him. He must have known that if he returned, his dad would not have continually harped on what he had done and would have loved him anyway.
So, how did the prodigal’sfather receive him? Did he spit on and ridicule his son? Nope. In the son’s pitiful condition—intent on offering a heartfelt confession to his dad—the dad ran to him and embraced him.
That son didn’t even have the opportunity to blurt out the speech he had memorized and rehearsed: “All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I'm going back to my father. I'll say to him, Father, I've sinned against God, I've sinned before you; I don't deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.” That is what he intended to say . . . but all he got out was: “Father . . .” But his dad didn’t wait. To him, his son’s sin had already been settled. The father’s only response was to issue an order to his servants: “'Quick. Bring a clean robe. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. We are going to feast! Everyone rejoice—my son is home.” That is all he needed say. He knew his son’s heart. He knew he had fully repented. He stood with open arms to rejoice that his son had returned!
You see, sin wasn’t the issue to this father. The only issue in his mind was love. He wanted his boy to know he was accepted even before he could utter a word of his confession. That is the point our Father wants to make to us all: His love is greater than all of our sins. According to Romans 2:4, “Our Father’s kindness is intended to turn you from your sin.” When His children wander and return with a broken and contrite heart, He will receive you with open arms to wrap around!
(I send out messages like each morning. If you are interested, let me know. However, you can also find these messages at: Thought For The Day)