Summary: “And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” Luke 15:20.
Theme: God is a loving and forgiving Father
Text: Josh. 5:9-12; 2 Cor. 5:16-21; Lk. 15:11-32
We have no problem believing that God is love, yet at the same time we doubt God’s love. Today’s story from the gospel is all about the Fathers love. When the father saw his rebellious son returning, he ran to welcome him home. This was an extraordinary act in Jewish culture since running was restricted to servants and slaves. The father’s behaviour was a reflection of his great love. We cannot claim to believe in God and doubt His love for us. When we have a wrong conception of God we are no better than the unbeliever. Jesus Christ became a man to reveal God to us. He came to reveal the character and nature of God. He came to reveal God as the loving and forgiving Father.
God is love and loves us as a loving Father. He loves us no matter how much we hurt Him. He loves us even when we rebel and refuse to obey Him.
It is love that motivates God to meet our needs. Just as God created all that man would need before creating man so God continues to supply all our needs. God has entered into covenant with us and remains our Father even when there is a break in fellowship. A break in fellowship denies us access to His presence, favour, and blessings. The Father has blessed us with every blessing. When Christ made us righteous with His righteousness we became new creations and joint heirs with Christ.
This gospel story is about two believers. The younger son does not represent an unsaved person but someone who had experienced his father’s love and favour. He demanded his share of the inheritance because he wanted to be in control of his own life. He did not value the father’s provision and disregarded His authority. The father nevertheless grants his rebellious and disrespectful son’s request. He broke his Father’s heart and this is repeated every time a Christian leaves His Father’s presence. God loves his children and will not force them to act against their will even when it is something as foolish as leaving His presence. God wants us to freely love and serve Him. This is one of the reasons we often find our lives in a mess and this is often the reason we blame God and are often bitter toward Him. We blame God for not stopping us when He had all the power to do so. God does not stop us for the same reason He didn’t stop Adam and Eve from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God does not stop us for the same reason He didn’t stop King David from having sex with Bathsheba. And God does not stop us for the same reason the father in this story did not stop his son from leaving. God loves us so much that He not only allows us to make our own choices but also respects our decisions even though He knows what the consequences will be. Many parents are hurting from disagreements with their children leading to a strain in their relationship. Some children are alienated as a result of rebellion, a sinful lifestyle, or a bad relationship. Rebellious children are always causing their parents pain. They can be disciplined as children but after a certain age the only way to deal with the problem is to respect their choices and decisions and allow them to leave. God understands the pain we go through with our children and He cares. He is able to use their tragic circumstances to bring them on the right path to realize their sin and what to do about it. We should continue to love our children and be always ready to welcome them back.
Rejection begins when we begin to put our trust in our own abilities. The younger son believed in himself and that he was capable of taking care of his own life. He not only believed in himself but also in the possessions he would inherit. He trusted in possessions rather than the father. He believed he was capable of making a success of life even without his father. He trusted himself, his possessions and his friends. He trusted his friends but you only know who your real friends are when you do not have money. When he made the wrong decisions and lost his wealth, all his friends deserted him.
The separation from God always leads to lack and famine. There is no one who can provide and meet your needs better than God. When the younger son left his father he was exposed to sin and soon forgot everything that was good, right and holy. Sin always leads to more sin just as one bad decision leads to another. He spent all his money enjoying the pleasures of sin. When he had spent all his money his so called friends deserted him and left him to his fate. Lack and famine are so prevalent in the world today due to sin. Unfortunately many people are seeking refuge in the wrong places. The drinking bar has become the best counterfeit to the fellowship meetings of the Church. It dispenses liquor instead of grace and escape rather than reality. We should, however, not seek imitations when the real thing is available. Only Christ can offer the lost and backslidden the love and acceptance they are searching for and we cannot reach them when we see them as the Pharisees did – as people who have no right to come to God or to associate with the so-called righteous. Lack and hunger can bring one to his senses and lead to repentance and restoration. When the younger son realised his situation he did not try to make excuses for his behaviour or work out any pre-conditions for his return. He made the decision to turn away from evil to God.