“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. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” – Luke 15: 20-24.
In Luke 15, we find one of the most compelling stories about God in the Bible and the greatest short story ever told anywhere: Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). In this well-known parable, a son asks his father for his inheritance, then squanders it recklessly as he lives a life of indulgence. With nothing left of his fortune, he is forced to work as a hired hand for a pig farmer. He is so destitute that he longs to eat the food of the pigs. Realizing that his father’s servants have better working conditions, he resolves to return to his father, beg forgiveness, and ask to be his servant.
You’d think after all that, when the son decided to go back home, that the father would be standing, waiting on the deck, arms crossed, foot-tapping, a frown spreading across his forehead, impatiently listening to the whole speech the son had prepared, maybe making him grovel a little bit more before consenting to take him back to the worst job in the house. At the very least, you’d expect a severe reprimand and some sort of punishment. But that didn’t happen. Instead of a bitter reception, he got a warm welcome, with hugs, kisses, gifts, and a party. The father immediately welcomes his son back into the family, lavishing his love on him in every way he can.
In this story, Jesus gives us an unforgettable picture of God as a loving Father beyond our wildest imagination.
Ephesians 1:3-8 says, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.”
The story of the prodigal son is a picture of God’s love for us as His children. God’s love for us does not depend on our faithfulness; it is unconditional. He loved us while we were still sinners. Though we are demanding and do not remain faithful, God is still our faithful and loving Father.
- What aspect of God’s character does this parable display?