But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! ‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” ’ “So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.
In part two of the parable, the son formulated a plan to escape the misery he brought upon himself. The need that the young man was experiencing was real, and he made a good decision in a bad place. His plan of action was to admit wrong, ask for forgiveness, and seek to return as a slave. More than mere damage control, the journey back involved a genuine change of heart. A humble heart had replaced an arrogant heart. The son made his way back to his father’s house with nothing to offer.
In the father’s response we see the gospel on display. The father required nothing. Though he did not need to welcome the son, out of his grace and love he welcomed the son back, restoring him into his family. Forgiveness was immediate, and the son’s confession came in the midst of the strong show of compassion. Ignoring the stench of his son, the father embraced him gratefully and joyfully (v. 20). This is what happens when we return to our Father.
Forgiveness is our greatest need and God’s greatest provision. It is God’s joy to welcome us. The gospel-centric father reminds us of how gracious God has been to sinners. Regardless of the depth of sin, every Christian is a product of amazing grace.
- How did the son gain the appreciation of his father? Why did the father respond the way he did? What does this teach us about God?
- How did God bring you back from your personal “far country”?
- Spend some time in reflective prayer, thanking God for the work He has done to restore you to Him.