So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
If you know the story of the Lost (or Prodigal) Son you know what an amazing verse this is. The father shows his son so much love in this verse, and it is an example of how the Lord loves us.
The story of the lost son is told in Luke 15:11-32 by Jesus Christ. It is the story of a son who does the unthinkable in his culture; he asks for his inheritance before his father is dead. To do this in his culture was as if you were saying that you wished your father were dead. It meant that you cared more for your inheritance than you did for your own father. The compassionate father grants his son’s wish and the son leaves his father’s estate. Soon after he departs the son is broke and living and working with pigs. He is starving and destitute. After his time of indulgence and subsequent depravity he realizes what a mistake he has made. He admits to himself that he has sinned and that he is not worthy to be his father’s son. The son then begins the journey back to his father’s estate fully expecting to act as a servant for his father once he arrives.
For me this is the part of story that becomes overwhelming. If you read verse 20 carefully it says, “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him.” If you think about it the father must have been out looking for his son to return. Remember that he owned an estate. He had servants and land, big responsibilities, but he sees his son off in the distance. He must have been looking for him. Amazing! Can you picture the father standing outside the estate each day his son was gone just waiting for him to return? Isn’t this the epitome of unconditional love? This son who he invested so much love and energy in one day decided that he no longer needed his father and that he wanted nothing to do with him. The father loves his son so much that he granted his son’s wish, even though it meant that he would lose him, and waited faithfully for his return. Wow!
What happens next is also miraculous. The father “ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” He doesn’t stop there though. The father places his best robe on his returning son and then orders the servants to prepare a feast in celebration of the son’s return. You can pick out about a half dozen things Jesus was teaching in this parable, but the one that has always stuck out to me is how much our Father in heaven loves us.
There have been times when I have turned my back on the Lord in my own selfishness and pride. During those times the Lord was faithful to me. He didn’t forsake me. He was there waiting for my return just as the father in this story. When I repented He didn’t distance himself from me. He accepted me with open arms. He was celebrating that I had returned to Him.
I am going to be a father in approximately 6 weeks. My goal as a father is to show my child the love that the Lord has shown me. As a human I will make mistakes and so will my child, but this parable encourages me, and challenges me, to follow the example of the father in Luke 15:11-32 and show my child unconditional love.
Why would we want to make the Lord wait on our return? Aren’t we better off continually submitting ourselves to Lord?