This has to be one of my favorite parables that describes our relationship with God. The story of the prodigal son epitomises the loving, patient, kind, faithful and forgiving nature of God that so radically differs from any other idol that demands a precondition of performance to be met. Our God instead chooses to chase after us as we helplessly limp towards Him – not even allowing a single thought of condemnation to enter our minds. Verse 19-24 climaxes this point as the father unashamedly embraces the son and quickly prepares the celebration even before the son is given the opportunity to finish his opening sentence.
I always found it uncomfortable talking to people (believers and non-believers) about the cost of following Jesus. It’s that moment when you’re selling something on gumtree and a buyer discovers the price and immediately loses interest. But I think Jesus is saying something more profound than simply trying to lose popularity.
I can often fall into the trap of thinking I have to package my repentance in such a way that appears sincere. I think to myself “If I word my apology in this way, perhaps it’ll move God enough to have mercy on me.” Close inspection of verse 19 reveals that it actually has little to do with the preparation of our apology speech and more to do with the pure joy experienced at the unity between father and son. Repentance is not something I HAVE to do but something I GET to do – it is not so much a fine to be paid to avoid imprisonment than it is a ticket gifted to me for my return home.
God please restore in me the joy of my salvation. Awaken me the pure joy experienced at the unity between father and son as I long to return home. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.