Time to Come Home, Pt. 3
This is the third in a 3-part series about the Prodigal Son.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him [the prodigal son] and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
‘My son [the older son],’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ Luke 15:31-32
We've explored the narrative of the prideful prodigal son who repented and realized it was time to come home. We journeyed the account of the older son filled with bitterness and unforgiveness, who was invited to let go of the hurt. And now we come to the father. The father in his parable represents our Heavenly Father. The love of this father represents God's love for each of us. It reminds us that God wants none of His children to be separated or lost, but all are welcome to come home.
The father noticed both of his sons and their unique circumstances and feelings. The father didn't scold either of them for their shortcomings. He didn't condemn the younger son for leaving and squandering his inheritance. He didn't judge him for destroying the family and abandoning his responsibilities. And when the older son was unwilling to forgive, the father didn't reject him or punish him. You see, the father understood what both of his sons had been through and he met each son with the perfect response.
To the prodigal son, the father has his loving arms open. He has compassion for his son. He accepts the son's repentance and welcomes him not just back home as a servant, but he restores his son fully to his place in the family. The father celebrates the son's return and rejoices that he has finally come home. Our heavenly father welcomes us in the same way. When we are lost, when we've turned our backs, when we've made mistakes, God welcomes us home when we return with repentant hearts and a desire to be at His table once again. God rejoices when we find our way back to him. He rejoices when we reconcile a broken relationship, when we seek forgiveness, admit our wrongs, and move forward in righteousness. God rejoices when we walk in the ways of humility and follow the example set by Jesus.
To the older son, the father listens and responds with understanding and love. He acknowledges that the older son has been faithful and good. He is grateful for the older son's dedication. And he gently corrects his older son when he doesn't want to forgive, urging him to see the bigger picture. God does that with us, too. Sometimes, bad things happen, people hurt us, and we don't understand why. So, we get frustrated that life isn't fair. We put up walls. We keep people out. We run from God. But if we can keep our eyes on the bigger picture and walk in the ways of righteousness, then we will find the courage and ability to let go of the hurt and bitterness, and instead, by God's power, forgive and reconcile. God will rejoice when you come to the table of forgiveness and reconciliation.
The parable of the prodigal son gives us all hope that no matter what we have done, God continues to love us. It gives us hope that any relationship that has been broken may find restoration. If you're like me, you can relate to both sons. You can place yourself in the shoes of the prodigal son who had messed up in ways that seemed beyond redemption. But you have felt an immense amount of gratitude when God was able to make right even the gravest of mistakes. And we all have felt the pangs of bitterness and jealousy, and struggled to forgive, just like the older son, unable to see past the betrayal. God understands that, too, and will lovingly remind us of the bigger picture. He will help us to let go, forgive, and live free from the wounds of betrayal, if we allow Him to do that kind of transformative work.
This Week’s Reading Plan
As you read the following passages this week, ask yourself these questions:
1) What verse comforts me that I can commit to memory?
2) What word or phrase stands out?
3) What am I learning about God from this? 4) How can I apply this to my life today?
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Author: Pamela Palmer
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