Luke chapter 15 is about things that once were lost suddenly are found. At first the lost are a sheep and a coin. The lesson that Jesus is teaching is about God desperately searching out for those in this world who are lost. Imagine being loved so much that the one searching for you will not stop until you are found. This comes to life in the story of the Prodigal Son.
The Prodigal Son is a classic Biblical story about a son who takes his father’s inheritance and spends it until it is gone. The son at the end of his rope he decides to go back home and beg for forgiveness. His hope is to at the very least convince his father to put a roof over his head and give him some food.
His father’s reaction is beyond his hopes (and our expectations) — his father runs to meet his son at the end of their road and welcomes him home with a party. The older brother in the story is not happy at his siblings homecoming. The older brother is faithful, he is dedicated to his father and has worked while his younger brother has gone off and lived a disgraceful life. Is that fair?
What draws me into this story is the meeting of the father and son in the middle of the road. When the father first lays his eyes on his son there is no second thought about what he is going to do. The father’s love for his child is so strong, so deep, so powerful that he can’t control himself. He has to run to his son and greet him with open arms. This love is the kind of love I have experienced in my life and the kind of love I hope I show to other people.
With no concern about the consequence of his actions, the father begins to run (something not done by the wealthy in Jesus’ time) and spares no expense to show his son love and forgiveness.
The father ignores his son’s speech of repentance, and lives in the joy that his son is home. This kind of story is not something you hear often because it really doesn’t make sense.
The father’s actions are foolish. First he gave this boy half of his property and sends him off into the world to use it has he pleases, he then waits day and night at for his son to return and then embarrasses himself by running out to meet him. There was no apology given by the son, he did not even let his son finish his repentance speech.
But that’s the idea of forgiveness right?
To love someone so deeply that no matter what happens (or doesn’t happen) you are going to welcome that person home and you are going to love them and forgive them with no questions asked.
So many times as a parent when my children do something they know they should not do, I make them say that they are sorry, I explain to them what they have done wrong so that they will learn a lesson. But are they learning a lesson? Am I teaching them how to forgive?
I believe God wants us to loves as fully and deeply as the prodigal father does his lost son. There is something to say about know that there is a place we can call home, where we can always be welcomed, loved and experience forgiveness, acceptance, love and grace…..no matter what we have done.
This is why I think this parable is so important. It teaches us what love looks like, how much God loves us and it is an example for us how to love one another.