“For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate”
Perhaps one of the most memorable and heart touching stories of grace and forgiveness in the New Testament is recorded in Luke chapter fifteen. It’s what most have come to know as the story of the Prodigal son. I tend to think of it more as the story of Radical Grace.
You probably know the story. A young man demanded his inheritance while his father was still alive, spent it all on riotous living, and found himself dirty, destitute, and despairing. As despicable as pigs were to Jews, this young man took a job taking care of pigs and eating their food just to stay alive. But then the Bible says, “He came to his senses” (15:17).
I’ve been there have you? I’ve made bad choices, and then come to my senses.
“How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare,” the son thought. “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” (Luke 15:17-20).
And where was his father? He was panning the horizon, hoping for a sign that his boy might return home. “While he was still a long way off,” the father spotted his son on the horizon. Filled with compassion, he picked up the edges of his robe and ran. He didn’t wait for his son to come to him, grovel at his feet, and beg for forgiveness. No, as soon as the father caught a glimpse of his son, he dashed toward his boy, smothered him with kisses, and welcomed him home.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (15:22-24)
And that’s exactly what your Heavenly Father does for you. When you get off track, He waits for you to “come to your senses” and return home. When you do, He celebrates!
If you remember, not everyone was happy when the prodigal son returned. His big brother resented the fact that he got another chance. And you know what? There will always be those who resent the fact that we get another chance as well. They will those who resent God’s grace when it is shown to someone other than themselves.
I love what Beth Moore said about big brother: “Big brother won’t mind if you come back as long as you hang your head and wear your shame. But when God has the audacity to give you a little dignity back and you dare lift your radiant face to heaven in liberated praise, big brother may be appalled!…It’s pride that can’t celebrate with a prodigal-come-home. Folks who won’t celebrate are still kidding themselves into thinking they did something right to be loved by their Father.”
I say, let him be appalled. Nothing makes some people angrier than grace. Big brother is invited to the party too and it’s his decision whether or not he wants to join in the celebration. I’m just glad he’s not the one in charge.
God is a God of second chances. When we stray, He pans the horizon waiting for our return. When we do, He runs to embrace us, throws His arms around us, and celebrates with the heavenly host shouting…Welcome home!
Dear Father, thank You for welcoming me home when I stray. I pray that I will never be like the older brother who resented a prodigal’s return. I love You so much for welcoming me with open arms and rejoice over me with singing.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Whom are you more like in this story?
The prodigal son who is straying right now?
The big brother who gets upset when someone gets off the hook with grace?
The father who longs for the prodigal to return, celebrates when he/she does, and restores him/her to a place of dignity?
If you are praying for a prodigal today, click over to my blog with this same title and leave his or her name in the comment section. Then pray for the prodigal above your entry.
More From the Girlfriends
Did you know that your scars are beautiful to God? Yes, your story has power and purpose! No matter what you’ve gone through, you have the opportunity to turn your hurt into hope and your mess into a message. In this book you’ll discover the power you possess in the story your have. Don’t waste your sorrows. God has a great purpose for you to share what you’ve gone through to help someone else. Check of Your Scars Are Beautiful to God: Finding Peace and Purpose in the Hurts of Your Past. It also comes with a study guide for groups or individuals reflection.