Summary: Joy and celebration are taking place in the streets of heaven. He rejoices over all those who repent of their sins and seek to know Him. He wants you to join Him in His joy. He wants you know His great love for you. Rejoice with Him! Come to the party!
Have you ever thought about why God would create us to have children? He could have created us like the angels who don’t have children. He could have created as many people as He wanted all at once. He could have created a few people and continued to create more as He saw fit to populate His creation. But God in His wisdom created one man and one woman and told them “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” He wanted them to have the experience of reproducing and raising children. And I think that it has to do with providing us some insights about God Himself. He made us in His image and our children are little images of us. When a baby is born, we look for ways that they resemble the parents. He’s got his daddy’s nose. And our love for our children is a special kind of love that’s not quite like the love we have for anyone else. We take great pride when a child has an accomplishment of some type, like when they win a spelling bee or graduate at the top of their class or even when they take their first step. We hurt beyond any other hurt when our child hurts. Most parents would rather have their own life be taken than see their child broken and in pain. And when a child goes astray, the disappointment and pain can be unbearable. Our experiences as parents help us to understand God’s great and special love for us, His children. So it’s no surprise that Jesus would teach us about God our Father in this parable about a father and two sons.
It’s a familiar story to most of us because it is so well-loved. The younger son demands that his father give him his share of his inheritance, basically telling his father that he wished he were dead so he could do whatever he wants. The father loves his son so much that he actually gives the ungrateful little jerk what he wants. The father probably hoped beyond hope that the son would use the wealth wisely, that he would recognize his father’s love and remain with him. But of course, after just a few days, the son ran off to live life large. It was one big party while the money lasted. Most likely his friends went away as soon as the money was gone and he found himself with nothing – no money, no friends, no food. So he finally recognizes what a jerk he’s been and decides to go begging for his father’s forgiveness, hoping that his father would at least allow him to be a servant.
Instead of anger, the father was full of grace and mercy and ran to greet his son while he was still far off. Imagine this dignified and wealthy man hiking up his robe to run down the dusty road. His neighbors must have thought him to be a fool. But he didn’t care. His love for his son knew no bounds. Despite his disappointment in his son’s rejection, he rejoiced that his son was finally coming home. In his joy, he threw a wonderful party “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”
This is God our Father. He rejoices over the lost when they return to him. He doesn’t want to display His wrath; He deeply desires that all of His creatures will come to Him in repentance. He longs to shower us with His love. He loves us so much that He allows us to reject Him while He patiently waits for us to come back to Him. And when we come to our senses, God our Father celebrates extravagantly. Our Father God is full of grace, mercy, and love for us. Our sin, our rejection of Him, causes Him great pain, but He forgives us completely and welcomes us back as His children.
Do you identify with the younger son? Maybe there has been a time in your life when you rejected God or at least rejected His authority over you. Maybe you lived life according to the ways of the world instead of walking the path of the Lord. Since you’re sitting here in church, worshipping God with fellow believers, I assume that you’ve returned to Him. And the great news is that God welcomes you back. He doesn’t hold a grudge against you for your past rejection of Him. He doesn’t constantly remind you of your past sins. That’s all behind you and it’s all forgiven. He throws a party for you! God our Father wraps the finest purple robe around you, He sets the crown of life on your head, and He pours out His grace, mercy, and love upon you. You are the most important person in the whole world to our Father because you are His child. His heart was broken when you left His side but now He rejoices because once you were dead in your sin but now you have been made alive by faith in the Son, Jesus Christ. You were lost but now you are found.