Celebrating the Return of the Lost Son!
“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. 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)
Mercy, compassion, and love always await those returning to the Father! The Father searches the horizon for that tiny speck in the distance indicating the return of the prodigal–and then He comes running. I believe this is the only time in Scripture that we find God running. How precious that it is towards the returning, wayward child. Indeed, He rose and ran to meet the returning rebel!
I am reminded of several verses in Scripture:
For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18)
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. (Psalm 103:8-13)
In our verses for today, lavish grace, along with loving forgiveness, mixed with exuberant joy is displayed by the father who anxiously waits to bestow upon his prodigal a new life and one that is great in abundance. Just like our Heavenly Father waits to give us new life! Jesus tells us:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)
Our cause for joy always rests in our personal relationship with God the Father through Jesus His Son. We are children of the King through our faith in Christ! Our names are written in heaven. We are His beloved and are His forever.
“From God’s perspective, one hidden act of repentance, one little gesture of selfless love, one moment of true forgiveness is all that is needed to bring God from His throne to run to His returning son and to fill the heavens with sounds of divine joy.” (Henri J.M. Nouwen)
Throughout the gospels we see that Jesus loved celebrations with feasting and and laughter. In this parable we find the father throwing a huge party to celebrate the homecoming of his son. God is a gracious Host providing lavish hospitality. Nouwen adds:
“I realize that I am not used to the image of God throwing a big party. It seems to contradict the solemnity and seriousness I have always attached to God. But when I think about the ways in which Jesus describes God’s Kingdom, a joyful banquet is often at its center. Jesus says, ‘Many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven.’”
I am reminded of the prophet Isaiah’s words:
On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine–the best of meats and the finest of wines.
I don’t believe heaven’s banquet will be a place for plain grilled chicken or butter-less biscuits! I think it will be divine dining like we have never experience dining before. Laughter and joy filling the banquet hall with our Host providing what we are unable to even conceive of as yet. We know not of what awaits us!
Take It to Heart
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)