Pastor Brett Crosson brought a powerful message on our loving Father this week. He drew his text from Luke 15, the three Lost parables. He noted that the lost sheep was indicative of that which is lost by nature. The lost coin that which is lost by circumstance, and the lost son as one who strayed by choice. In each case a loving God labours to have relationship restored. The Shepherd leaves the 99 for the sake of the one. The householder sweeps for recovery. And the Father, so much more.
Brother Brett noted that from the beginning of the son parable, the father (clearly representing the Father) is noted as loving, and giving. The pastor rightly noted that the tale, often called “The Prodigal Son” has an dual application. Prodigal can in the negative mean that which is wasteful (as the son clearly was), but it can also mean “having or giving something on a lavish scale.” The father in the parable is manifestly that! The prodigality of the father is everywhere in the story.
Verse 12 gives us our first example. The younger son goes to his father and asks for his portion of the inheritance. This was unheard of, and was culturally an insult. It insinuation is that he literally couldn’t wait for his father to die. How does his father respond? No, not with a rebuke or physical punishment, or even disinheritance, but with granting the request! Brett made a really sound point that Jesus’ Hebrew auditors would have been waiting for anything but this. Here is a man who puts insolence, and insult aside to give he son his request. More than generosity, this is love.
When the son is away he squanders his wealth, and is left at rock bottom. He is starving, and muses about home, and “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger (verse 17)!” These hired servants were day labourers, and had no true expectation of anything beyond their agreed wage, but here his father’s prodigal generosity shines again. They have more than enough.
The son makes his mid up to go beg for a hired position. This is not repentance, but rather desperation. As he approaches home, his father sees him. This father who has given his lot to the son, who has then deserted him has never given up on the boy.
“But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him (verse 20).” Brother Brett noted to us several other expressions of the father’s love in this single verse. The father runs to his son. What is overlooked in our 21st Century worldview is that such an act was beneath the dignity of an elder in Israel. So why did he do it? Yes, because he was excited to see his lost offspring returning, but there is more. He was getting to the son before anyone else could that might seek to humiliate him for his folly. What love is that?
The he kisses his son, more than a peck, “he falls upon his neck . . . .” He is showing live before the sons confession of verse 21. And once the son begins his speech (prepared in verses 18 and 19) the father calls servants to attend to the son.
Much has been made in the past about the fatted calf prepared to celebrate his return. Yes, this is gracious. But little comment is made abut what precedes that. “‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet (vs 22).”
The best robe was the of dignity, a garment worn by the father in meetings of the elders, or at worship. Here he is clothing his lost (but now returned) child with his own dignity and honour. This is the giving of the best. And then the signet ring the mark of the fathers own authority. This is a son forgiven, a son restored, a son loved. As are we!
Our Father in heaven is a Prodigal Father. No matter “how far a country” we have wandered to, or how wasteful of His love we have been, He will welcome us back. He will bestow blessings upon us. God is good.
Thank you Brother Brett for sharing this powerful word.