Today’s blog is written by Joan Onwiler. May we all better understand how much the Father loves us.
Jennifer Beckham, in her 2015 presentation at a women’s retreat, spoke on the “Prodigal”.
She begins with the younger son of a very wealthy man asking for his inheritance. This is a slap in the face to his highly respected father because he was in essence saying that he wished his father dead. When this happened, word spread, and the community knew all about it. His father gave him his inheritance, and off he went to discover the world. Now the only way he could ever return home was if he earned the money back. Otherwise the elders at the gate of the community would do a “cutting off ceremony” which is symbolized by breaking a pot at the boy’s feet as if to say “Your life is now broken. You are no longer welcome back. You have broken trusts, broken community and worst of all you have broken the heart of your father.” He would not be allowed to return home. This was the custom of the patriarchs.
As Luke 15 tells us, the father is always watching for his son. His son squandered all of his inheritance and figures it is better to be a servant in his father’s house. So he heads home. The father sees his son at a distance and he RAN to meet his son.
John Ortberg in his sermon entitled “Coming Home,” uses this same text and paints a picture of the father, heartbroken, looking over the horizon every day for that son, hoping he might see him. And then he sees something far away and he knows immediately. (The way someone walks is a real distinct thing. You can recognize a person by their gait). He sees his son! He knows that walk! So the text reads “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him. He RAN to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
(The word here for “run” in Greek actually means “raced.”) The father raced to his son. What is so amazing about this race is that in the culture, no patriarch would have run. No man of dignity, dressed in an elaborate ornate robe, would have run. On top of that, it was not fitting for a man of prestige to show his bare legs in public; and that is exactly what would have had to happen for him to race to his son. The father pulled up his robe and raced to his son. The father knew he had to outrun the elders at the gate who would do a cutting off ceremony and turn the son away. He meets his son and welcomes him home and even throws him a great feast even though he was undeserving.
This story is a reflection of how much God loves us:
Isaiah 54:10…I am unconditionally loved
Titus 3:6…I am completely accepted
Romans 8:1; Psalm 103:12…I am forgiven
1 Corinthians 7:23…I am considered extremely valuable
HOW GREAT AND FAITHFUL IS OUR GOD!