Originally scheduled for June 19
You remember the story; it’s one of the most famous short
stories ever written. The younger son comes up to his father and
asks for his share of the inheritance. Some have doubted the wisdom
of parting with the money at this point, but the father in question
did just that. The son, as you will recall, leaves the area to
squander the money in wine and women (song being relatively
inexpensive.) When he runs out of money he discovers that he has
been consorting with “checkbook friends.” So, after a little
hardship, he comes to his senses — and returns home.
With that introduction, may I introduce to you the
character of the father. There are three things that I would wish
you to see:
Patience — note that the father is out every day, looking down the
road in the hope that he will see his son coming. It apparently
takes some years before he comes back, but all that time the father
has not changed his mind. He wants his boy home.
Loving — you can tell by his first reaction to the sight of his
son. He does not wait for him to return; he doesn’t walk towards the
lad — he runs. Those who hold that the father in this parable is a
picture of God may note that this is the only time in the Bible
where God is pictured as running. When he gets to him, there is no
explanation asked, there is no lecture delivered. The picture is one
of pure joy: my boy is home.
Forgiving — indeed, forgiving to the point of restoration. The
prodigal knows what he deserves, but the father gives him
restoration into the family. It is extravagance; forgiveness often
God’s love is like that. He shows us this at the cross. For
2000 years he has been patient, waiting for his children to come
home. Is he loving? The most famous verse in the Bible starts with
the phrase, “for God so loved the world…” Only pure love would
sacrifice a son. But it is in forgiveness that we see this most
clearly. We are forgiven, not in part but in whole.
“My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought,
my sin, not
in part but the whole
is nailed to
the Cross and I bear it no more
Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul.”
we can see our responsibilities simply by looking at the prodigal
son. May I submit that there are three things we need to do:
First, we need to confess our sin. It may seem obvious, but even
the prodigal son knew he had to voice it.
Second, we need to recognize that we are not worthy of the Father’s
love — it is his free gift.
Third, we need to take that love into our hearts, cherish it and
accept it — and then spread it to all we know.
Communion — the “welcome home” feast for all of us who are