40 Days with Jesus – November 8th – Luke 15:11-31
One of my favorite things is arriving home to hear our 4 year old say “daddy” and run to the door to greet me (our 4 week old son might squeak too which I take to mean “yeah I know you’re home, where’s my bottle?). Until I became a father, I used to always read this familiar story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-31 from the perspectives of the two sons. Now I have a little more understanding of the deep desire of the Father’s heart to see his family reunited.
As many have pointed out, both sons left their father. The younger ran away, but the older, though he stayed home, left the father’s love also by becoming judgmental and feeling entitled. How our Heavenly Father’s heart must break when he sees his children forsake him to run to the temptations of the world or the pride of self-righteousness. Both paths lead us away from him. As an earthly father with an imperfect, human love for my sons, I have only a reflection of what God’s perfect, divine love for his children is like. God’s love is a seeking love that goes all out, sacrificing everything, to bring us back to him. Look at how the father in this passage seeks out both his sons.
“So he [the younger brother] returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
In verse 20, he has been watching for the younger son because he sees him from a long way off. Casting aside his dignity, he runs out to meet him. He smothers the son’s apologies in hugs and joy. There is no sign of hurt or scolding in the father at the return of the wayward son. There was only celebration and joy. But not everyone was happy he had come home:
“The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him,” Luke 15:28
Don’t miss how the father seeks out his other son as well in verse 28. When the older brother refuses to come in to the party, the father goes out to him. Again, there is no sign of the father being scolding or hurt, but the Bible literally says he begged him to come in. He wanted all his family to celebrate together.
God wants all the prodigals to come home. Whether we have run away or just become hard-hearted, he is seeking us out. And instead of the judgment or criticism we dread, we will find grace and love in his arms. He will run to us, saying “Welcome home my child.”
Finally, let me mention one of my favorite books that really opened up this parable to me in some new and amazing ways. If you’ve never read “The Prodigal God” by Timothy Keller, I highly recommend it. I know I thought I was so familiar with this story that I would normally just skim through it, thinking I already knew everything there was to know in it. Keller’s book helped me see each of the characters, and especially God, in a deeper way. I hope you’ll take the time to reread Luke 15:11-31 with a fresh perspective today.
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