“When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)
One of the most beautiful stories in the Word of God is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. We enjoy reading this parable because it is a great reminder of God’s unfailing love. We may say in our hearts: “I would never do what this son did with his life.” However, on further investigation, we may see a bit of ourselves in the Prodigal Son.
In the beginning of this parable, we see the younger son asking his father for his inheritance. This seems like a very strange request because the father is still alive. However, it shows that the son is insensitive to the feelings of his father. He is basically saying; “I don’t want to have anything to do with you. I wish you were dead.”
In our lives there are times, when we also act as though we don’t want to have anything to with God. We make plans without consulting God. We seek to please ourselves above all else. We are happy to have a place in heaven, but we are reluctant to allow the Lord to rule our hearts.
After the son receives his money, he leaves his father and family and goes his own way. He spends his money on all sorts of sinful activities. He has no interest in the things of heaven. His focus is purely on sinful pleasure. He has no thoughts of his father.
Like the Prodigal Son, we find it easy to have an earthly focus in this life. The world becomes all important to us. The getting of money becomes more important than seeking the true riches of God’s Word. Seeking our comfort becomes more important than seeking the glory of God. Paul tells the believers at Colossae. “Set your affections on things above, not on things of the earth.” (Colossians 3:2)
After the Prodigal Son loses all of his money, he makes another drastic error. This is the time that he should immediately return to his father; however, he tries to get out of his mess by his own effort. He soon takes the lowest of all jobs. He tends to the pigs. His humiliation is complete. He finds that the his downward spiral has hit the end.
When we find ourselves at the end of our rope. How do we respond? Do we try to resolve the situation with our own effort? Do we just quit on life and become filled with despair? Yes, we have sinned. Yes, we have failed God, but must we go to the very bottom? Do we know that our loving Heavenly Father is waiting for us to return?
The parable takes a sudden turn when Jesus says: “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.” (Luke 15:17-19)
The Prodigal Son has finally seen the reality of his situation. He sees that his only hope is to return to his father and confess his sin. His past flashes through his eyes. His regrets are real; yet he moves from despair to hope as travels the long distance back to his father.
Have we travelled a great distance from our Father? Have we turned our back on God’s love, mercy, peace and grace. Is our present situation filled with despair? Like the Prodigal Son, we can return to our Father. We know He loves us in spite of our sins and failures. He is waiting for us to repent of our sin.
As the son approaches his father, we see one of the most touching scenes in the Word of God. Jesus says: “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20) The father pours out his love upon his son. The father’s love is greater than his son’s sin. He instantly forgives his son. The relationship is restored.
Our Heavenly Father also waits for us to return to Him. His arms are open. His heart is ready to receive us again. Yes, we don’t deserve this love, but God’s love, like all of His attributes, is infinite. Will we, like the Prodigal Son, “come to ourself” and return to our Father?
“Dear Father, like the Prodigal Son, I often neglect you and do things that don’t please. When I try to deal with my problems, I fail. I have the tendency to have an earthly focus and I don’t concentrate on my relationship with you. I do want to return to you. Please break my pride; so that I will flee back into you loving arms.”