17th June 2012
“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.”
Luke 15:20 (NIV UK)
For Christians, Fathers Day is not only a time to celebrate fathers and fatherhood, but also a reminder of our heavenly Father’s unconditional love for all his children.
In his parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, Jesus gives us a glimpse into the heart of true fatherhood. You remember the story. A man had two sons. The younger demanded his share of the inheritance and left home with it, squandering everything in wild living until he was destitute. Finally: “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.”’ 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.” (Luke 15:17-20).
Even though the father had been disrespected and taken advantage of, he didn’t respond by domineering or retaliating. Instead, he patiently waited for his son to come to himself and return home. Without hesitation he ran to him and received him with joy.
There are at least two lessons here. One is that God never ceases to love us deeply and unconditionally in spite of our sin and foolishness.
The other lesson teaches us about the transforming power of unconditional love in a parent child relationship. In the prodigal’s darkest hour, he remembers how much better he had it at home with his father. Even though he only expects to be treated like a servant, he is drawn back home by his trust that his father will receive him in spite of how he has acted.
When the elder son complains that the father has treated his younger brother too well after his outrageous behaviour, the father explains: “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” (Luke 15:31-32)
It’s a message of hope for all of us, whether we are selfish, greedy and impetuous as the younger son, or self-righteous, judgmental and bitter as the elder son. Through all our sin and rebellion, God stands with us, waiting patiently for us to come home.
Jesus told this parable because he wants us to know the Father’s love for us. And knowing the Father’s love, may all of us who are fathers, or father figures, learn to love our children as our heavenly Father loves us.
Holy Father, thank you for your love. A love that embraces us and welcomes us despite our sin. A love that at times is incomprehensible to us except through the reality of how fathers unconditionally forgive their sons and daughters. Thank you again; in Jesus’ name we pray.
Study by Joseph Tkach