“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”
Luke 15:20, NLT
There’s a specific moment of time when the Prodigal stands up–looks around, and then decides it’s time to return home. But he is no longer a ‘rich man’s son’, the pig-pen completely crushed that idea. He comes home, thinking that he can at least be a slave.
The devastated prodigal now understands.
And it’s that which gives him the propulsion to leave the pigs behind, and return home. The trip is a long one, lots of walking, and it’s hard–he’s far from where he’s supposed to be. He is tired, ragged and worn.
But please dear one, you must understand this about Jesus’ parable–the story isn’t as much about the prodigal son– the focus should be on the father–Jesus is teaching us that the love of God is a searching/seeking kind of love, and it cannot be shut down, or go away over time.
It is a 24/7/365 day kind of love.
Think of it like high intensity radar that sweeps over extreme distances, it is always looking, and it won’t be denied. The Father is seeking for His sons and daughters. He intends to find them. If we refuse we will continue to feed pigs, and starve.
The compassion of the Father is an aggressive and reaching kind of mercy.
The Father never sits on His butt, watching us from His throne, He reaches out and penetrates through a whole lot of sin. He runs, not sits. He is far from passive, or ‘ho-hum’ toward His son. And God is fully into reclaiming His lost sons and daughters. He continues to find me, even in my darkness and sin.
The Father recognizes His prodigal son. Gross sin has a way that disfigures a person’s countenance. Look at the wino or meth addict on the street.
The boy who abruptly left home is not the son who returns. There has been damage done. His face has changed. The Father understands this, and yes, it has been terribly hard and brutal.
I believe that this parable is the greatest of them all.
It shows the deep love the Father has for prodigals like us. This story is so revealing, in it we see that the Father is always running, and toward other rascals who are very much like us. We must know this. We must internalize it and understand that passionate love He has–we will stall in our discipleship if we don’t grip this!
This amounts to nothing less than a revolution.
It’s very possible that the Church will falter and be confused over the presence of the prodigal at our door. The trick for us is being the younger son without becoming the elder.
There seems to be very few people who understand a running God.
When we see love like the Fathers, we are full of doubt. There isn’t anything like it. It’s far far removed by logical reasoning. It’s lavished on wasted men and women, and we can grow skeptical about this.
But if the Church can keep pace, understanding who He really is–if we can accept the massive love of the Father toward ‘prodigals–no matter what the sin, we will finally understand His M.O.
And the Church will finally be doing His will in the world. Finally.