10th April 2019

True Repentance

“When he [the younger son] came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger!’”
Luke 15:17 (NRSV)

“If only…” How many times have we said this? “I should have spent more time in exercise and less in eating and drinking but I didn’t, and now I’m too unfit to excel in my favourite sport. If only…”

The verse I’ve quoted comes from one of the most well-known of Jesus’ parables. Let’s take a look at it. This verse is part of the younger son’s “If only” thoughts. We see him using only first person words—all about himself and what he had thrown away. Did he show true repentance? He had at last become aware of the mess he had made of his life through a hasty selfish decision. He hoped that his father would take him back even if just as another slave. But his pity was all for himself. We read nothing about his showing any sense of guilt for having besmirched his father’s reputation and dragging the family name through the mud.

But what about his father? Every day he went looking for his lost son in the hope that he might return home. He knew nothing of the mess his son had got into, of his change of heart, and of what the son had prepared to say once he got the opportunity. All the father wanted was to forgive his son and welcome him back into the family. Then when he saw his beloved son he couldn’t contain his joy. He had already forgiven him even before he heard his son’s well-rehearsed speech.

What then do we have here? We have a son whose repentance was rather half-hearted and self-centred. And we have a father who knew nothing of his son’s change of heart but wanted above all things to forgive him. Doesn’t that picture our relationship with God? He had forgiven us before we had a change of heart, and even if our ‘repentance’ was really rather self-based. As it says in Romans 5:6, While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” We didn’t earn our forgiveness. It came before we had ever thought of repenting. Thank God!

Father, I thank You that Your love for me was constant even when I went astray.

Study by Christopher Reeve

About the Author:
Christopher Reeve is assistant pastor of the Invicta (Blean) Congregation near Canterbury, which is part of Grace Communion International/Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Invicta Fellowship
Blean Village Hall
School Lane

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11.30 a.m.

Local Congregational Contact:
Mrs Annette Woods
Phone: 07473 188326
Email: annettewoods2@nhs.net

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