Luke 15 shares the parable of the prodigal son. It’s such a simple story, but contains so many profound truths in a tale that would be relatable to not only the crowd he was speaking to, but to ourselves today.
When Jesus delivers this parable, he is speaking to a mixed audience of tax collectors and Pharisees. The parable describes three people: The wayward son, the older brother and the father.
The tax collectors may have been able to see themselves in the wayward son. He wanted what was owed to him right now so he could splurge it on himself. He threw it all away on worldly pleasures and yet ran to his father and was forgiven and loved as part of the family.
The older brother is the Pharisees. His approach to the circumstance was, “What about me?” He felt he had served his father his whole life and yet his younger brother lived a foolish and arrogant life. Still, his father rewarded his little brother with a party. The older brother lived a life of honesty and hard work, but his response toward his brother’s repentance was none other than a hard heart full of bitterness.
The father represents God the Father. And while he is not typically talked about by those who teach this text, he’s the one I’d like to focus on today. The father in Jesus’ parable loved his sons unconditionally, seemed to forgive them quickly and extended mercy without a moments notice.
As a dad myself, I often feel like we cannot live up to this father’s example. I trust I am not alone in feeling this way. But I wonder how often, he as a dad, failed and was forgiven by his heavenly father.
Maybe just maybe, this is one of the many things he had experienced while traveling the tough road of working through his own past failures. These failures as a dad potentially paved the way for him to be there for his own son and extend love and forgiveness to his wayward son when he needed it the most.
The father’s willingness to offer unconditional love, mercy and forgiveness toward his wayward son when he finally returned home is nothing short of a miracle.
Life is never easy and the roads we travel aren’t always what we expect them to be, but we have a perfect, loving, merciful and forgiving father in heaven who sent his one and only son to live a life we could not live. He paid a debt we could not pay and was the sacrifice that satisfied God the Father’s wrath toward sin. He conquered death and hell for those who are called and believe upon him, and receive forgiveness for their own sin and are rewarded with eternal life based on Jesus’ righteousness alone.
I want to end today’s devotion with a quote from Tullian Tchividjian: “To all the fathers who have failed, who live with regret because of mistakes you’ve made with your kids … God loves and forgives you. His fatherly love toward you does not depend on your success as a dad. He loves fathers who fail because there aren’t any other kinds of fathers.”
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” –1 Peter 4:8
Written by Mike Julian, logistics coordinator at the Buckner Center or Humanitarian Aid.