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The Father’s Forgiveness

The father said to his slaves, “Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.”
—Luke 15:22–23

The story the prodigal son is an analogy of Christians who tend to wander away from God. Just as the son was lured away by money and pleasure and success, we, too, are lured away from our heavenly Father by a preoccupation with material things, a thirst for pleasure, and a drive toward success. Earlier we began looking at how we can come back into a right relationship with our heavenly Father. I said there are four steps necessary for a homecoming. First, there has to be a crisis. I’ve never known a Christian to come back to God without going through a crisis. Second, there has to be repentance, a change of mind that leads to a change of direction.

But there’s a third ingredient necessary for a homecoming, and it’s perhaps the most vital ingredient. That is forgiveness on the part of the father. We see this in the story of the prodigal son—more important than the son’s actions was the father’s attitude. This whole homecoming depended on the father’s attitude.

Let me illustrate what I mean. Let’s suppose the prodigal son decided to come home after his long journey. He walks up to the front door, knocks on the door, and his mother comes out. She hugs him and says, “Oh, son, it is so good to see you again.” Then the son says, “Mom, I made a tremendous mistake. I know I’ve hurt you and Dad, and I really need to talk to Dad. Is he available?” The mother says, “Well, you know, son, you really hurt your father. I’m not sure he wants to talk to you.” The son protests, “But, Mom, tell him I’ve been away a long time. I’ve come home. I’m ready to say I’m sorry. Please at least go talk to him.” She says, “Okay.” She disappears into the house for what seems like an interminable amount of time. Finally she returns and says, “Son, this isn’t a good day for your dad.” “But, Mom, didn’t you tell him his younger son is home?” “Yes, I told him that.” “Well, what did he say?” The mother finally says, “He said we no longer have a younger son.”

That’s the ending to the story the Pharisees would have preferred, because they believed that God hates sinners. But Jesus’ ending surprised and angered the Pharisees.

Notice the significant ending of this story: “So he got up and came to his father. But 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. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and 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.’ And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:20–24). Instead of responding with fury, the prodigal son’s father responds with forgiveness.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Waiting Father” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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