While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
The idea that God loves sinners was completely lost on the Pharisees. They taught that God hates sinners, and He is trying to keep as many people as possible out of heaven. But Jesus said God loves those who are lost. And to drive that truth home, Jesus told a parable about a lost son.
Luke 15:11 says, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’” In that culture, it was forbidden for a son to talk to his father about his inheritance. So this son was basically saying, “Dad, I wish you were dead, but since you are not going to die anytime soon, I want you to give me my share of the estate so I can get out of here.” That request must have come like a knife into the father’s heart. But he divided his wealth between his two sons.
Look at verses 13 and 15: “The younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. . . . So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.” Though this son left his father in search of freedom, he became another person’s slave. Maybe you are running away from God right now. You want freedom to live your life. But Romans 6 says all of us are slaves to someone. We are either slaves to sin and its taskmaster, Satan, or we are slaves to righteousness and its master, God. Choosing to serve Satan will cost you everything, as it did for this younger son. Luke 15:16 says, “He would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.”
The son came up with a plan: he would apologize to his father and ask to be treated like a hired servant. But this story is not so much about the return of the son as it is about the response of the father. Look at verse 20: “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” I think every day, the father would scan the horizon looking for his son. And on a day that started like any other, he finally saw a dot on the horizon. His boy was coming home, so he lifted his robe and ran as fast as he could to embrace his son. The father did not want to hear any speeches; all he needed to hear were the words “I am sorry.” And he said, “Let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found” (vv. 23-24). Was the father angry? No, he had been searching for his son’s return.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Value Of Lost Things” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org