LENT: The Amazing Father
Friday, March 15 2019
Today we will conclude our study of the parable of the man who had two sons: a younger son who left home, and an elder son who stayed home. However, as we observed, the two lived far away from their father’s heart.
In this reflection we will focus on the central character of the story: the father. The amazing father. Because everything that father was, and everything he did was unexpected and surprising.
So, what kind of father was he?
The younger son dishonored his father when he asked for his share of the inheritance while the father was still alive. What kind of son would do this? But the father gave him the inheritance! The younger son escaped from home and from the responsibilities that went with it, wasting the money from his inheritance on his own pleasure instead of investing it. But the father did not stop him! The younger son lost everything and turned into a pauper. But the father did not rescue him!
So, where was that father while his son wasted his money and his life? And what was he doing? All that time, the father was at home, waiting. Waiting, not with indifference, but with expectation. Waiting for the day, probably many years later, when the son would come to his senses, and the patient father would finally see him returning home.
And when finally one day the father saw his younger son in the distance, did he wait for him in the house with his arms crossed, an accusatory look on his face, and an “I-hope-you-learned-your-lesson” lecture on his lips? Perhaps we would have done all of these things. But the father in this story did not do any of these things. “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.” (Luke 15:20) What a different kind of father! Can you picture it in your head? This father was willing to sacrifice his authority and dignity, and run with indescribable joy to meet the son that he had lost but was now found.
He did not even pay attention to his confused son’s confession, which he had practiced all the way home. He only ordered that his son be given the best robe, shoes for his feet and a ring for his finger; and he ordered a fattened calf to be slaughtered to eat. He wanted a big celebration party because his younger son had finally come home! How is that possible? This son deserved punishment, not a party!
So what kind of father is he? Does a loving father act like him? Shouldn’t he have tried to teach his son something about responsibility? How is it that the son irresponsibly wasted all his inheritance and when he returned home the father gave him a party instead of consequences?
The main lesson of this parable is that this father wanted more from his two sons than mere responsibility and submissive service. While the younger son only saw his father as a source to finance his own pleasures, and the older son saw him only as a harsh boss he had to work for in the field, the father longed for an intimate and loving relationship with both of them. The problem was that the two sons were at home, but neither lived in the love of his father. They thought that giving him cold obedience was sufficient, but what the father most desired was their hearts.
When was it that the father loved his sons most? Was it when he let the younger son leave, fully knowing he was going to waste his inheritance and his life? Was it when the prodigal son returned home? Was it when he saw the years of faithful service that the elder son had given him? No! The father always loved his two sons completely and unconditionally. The love of the father for his sons never changed – the only thing that changed was the perception that each one had of this love.
Because the biggest problem that we have as human beings is that we live most of our lives as if we were less loved than we really are.
The elder son was a legitimate and beloved son, but he lived as if he were a servant. And the younger son was ready to live like a servant because he thought that he did not deserve to be a son. Both lived as if they were loved less than they really were. The only thing the father truly longed for was that both live in the deep love he had for them.
When all is said and done, it doesn’t matter if it is rebellion (as in the case of the younger son) or if it is religion (as in the case of the older son) that keep you distanced from a vibrant relationship with the Father – the result is always the same: God can not enjoy the intimate communion He would like to have with you, and you live far from the love that would fill you with abundant life.
“For this reason I kneel before the Father …so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14,17-19)
For your personal journey:
Ask God to show you when and how you live as if you were loved less than you really are.
What things cause you to run your own way like the younger son, or to work harder like the older son?
God wants you to know that there is nothing you can do today that will make Him love you more, and there is nothing that you can do that will make Him love you less. He simply loves you. Period. Ask Him to show you how true and sure this truth is so that you can live in perfect freedom.
(Ideas taken from He Loves Me, by Wayne Jacobsen)
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