A son from the Middle East leaves home, takes his portion of his inheritance, and squanders it all on himself. In doing so he shames his father and an entire community. This son should never be allowed back in his fathers house or the town!
Eventually however, as this son gets tired of being poor and hungry, he becomes courageous and decides to head home. Now he’s smart enough to realize that there is no way he can be accepted in his father’s house, but perhaps he can become a servant. At least as a servant, he can have three meals a day and a roof over his head.
So as this son begins to head home, something strange happens. His father notices him. It’s almost like he has been waiting for him. And he runs to him! It’s important to know that Middle Eastern men don’t run. It’s shameful to run. It’s humiliating. But this father doesn’t care. His compassion for his son overrides any possible embarrassment.
As the father gets closer to his son, this son is most likely getting ready to brace himself for a backhand from his dad. But instead of slap to the face is a kiss. And instead of a shove to the ground is a strong embrace of love.
The son keeps trying to tell his father the plan he has for becoming his servant and working off the money he wasted, but the father doesn’t hear him as he is shouting orders to get his son cleaned up. “Let’s get him some new clothes. Let’s get him a new ring for his finger. And let’s have a party!!!”
This is a scandalous move by this father. It’s unheard of, especially in a middle eastern culture. The son should have been exiled or killed, not welcomed. Why is he allowed back in the community and his father’s house? Why is he given new clothes? Why is he thrown a party? It’s because of the GRACE OF THE FATHER!!!
This story is familiar to many of us. It’s told by Jesus in Luke 15. It’s a story of God’s heart toward those who have decided to abandon Him. It’s a story about all of us!
We need to grasp the heart of this story anew. We need to continue to dive into the grace of God for us. He runs after us. He has compassion. He clothes us with righteousness. And He does this not because we deserve it, but because of His grace. And such grace changes everything.
Consider the words of Dane Ortlund:
It’s time to enjoy grace anew–not the decaffeinated grace that pats us on the hand, ignores our deepest rebellions and doesn’t change us, but the high-octane grace that takes our conscience by the scruff of the neck and breathes new life into us with a pardon so scandalous that we cannot help but be changed.
It’s time to blow aside the hazy cloud of condemnation that hangs over us throughout the day with the strong wind of gospel grace. You “are not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). Jesus is real; grace is defiant; life is short; risk is good. For many of us the time has come to abandon once and for all our play-it-safe, toe-dabbling Christianity and dive in.
God, help us to dive into your life-changing grace today!!!