How does God feel about the lost? He loves them…both the younger son and his older brother, both the unrighteousness and the self-righteous. The real prodigal is the father who of course represents God. So we might call it the parable of the prodigal God. He waits for us expectantly…looking with anticipation. When we turn to Him, He is a God who comes running to welcome us with open arms and great affection. We become His sons and daughters. And He throws a huge party.
Maybe you are like the younger son today. No one is beyond the Father’s love…there is nothing that you can do that would keep Him from seeing you with compassion and warmly welcoming you home and totally forgiving you. In fact, total forgiveness is the only kind of forgiveness that God gives. To receive God’s forgiveness, we have to see ourselves before we can see God…we have to recognize our need for repentance. We have to see ourselves as wayward sons and daughters before we will realize His great love for us. Then we must come home.
But maybe the older brother better describes you. Your problem isn’t an overtly pagan lifestyle, but a wrong view of yourself and of God. He demands a lot, but gives very little. Righteousness is not given, it is earned. You interpret His grace in the lives of others as unfair treatment because you have never truly experienced His grace for yourself. Instead of rejoicing over the salvation of the lost, you grumble and complain. You don’t know the Father. Jesus tells this parable to the Pharisees and scribes to show them what God is like…He wants them to be the older brother who, like his Father, anxiously awaits the return of his younger brother and runs with the Father to greet him and welcome him home. But they too have to recognize their need for repentance…their need for Jesus. Only then would they share the Father’s heart and be a part of the celebration.
And while both the younger son (tax collectors and sinners) and the older son (Pharisees and scribes) represent the lost, as believers we can stray like the younger son or become self-righteous like the older son. Jesus invites us too to come home.
The love of the Father toward His sons (and daughters) is not determined by their character but His. I love the description of the greatness of God’s love by A. W. Tozer in his book Knowledge of the Holy: “… because God is self-existent, His love had no beginning; because He is eternal, His love can have no end; because He is infinite, it has no limit; because He is holy, it is the quintessence of all spotless purity; because He is immense, His love is an incomprehensibly vast, bottomless, shoreless sea.”
How does God feel about those who are far from Him? He waits expectantly for us…looking with anticipation. He welcomes us with open arms and great affection. He adopts us as sons and daughters and throws a huge party. Such is the Father’s love for us.
Until next time…stay salty.
This post is based on a sermon from our series in the book of Luke. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster