While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)
He sat alone with the pigs.
Not long before he dressed in fine clothing, drank the finest wine, and laughed with what he called his friends. He smiled at women who smiled back, before he learned that friends could be bought and love could be rented. When the money was gone, so were they. When he needed them, they gave him nothing (Luke 15:16). Now, he sat covered in mud.
If you would have joked that he, a Jew, would be working as a pig-feeder, he would have said he preferred death first. But here he was, envious of what the unclean swine ate. He wondered how much longer he could take it. He missed home.
During a dark sunset he wept over his folly remembering how he had insulted and hurt his father. He requested his inheritance before his father died — because his pursuit of his personal pleasures were more to him than the love of family.
At the crest of a hill looking from his camel top blanket he looked with a silent curse upon his father’s house and then as it disappeared beneath the hill ridge, he had smiled to himself. How wise he was. He thought he was heading into freedom, into joy, into pleasure.
Now his pleasure was the end of a day feeding pigs and smelling their filth. The pigs ate better and more than he did! He reasoned, “How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!” (Luke 15:17).
Rising over the hill ridge again….
There it was, father’s house, just as he had left it. He repeats his apology. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants” (Luke 15:18–19). But as doubts begin to cloud his mind, a figure appears from the house. There his father is, looking just as well as he been when the son left his father and the home of his birth.
But something happens that he doesn’t expect: his father begins to run to him. Had he ever seen his father run? He always composed himself with such dignity, but here he is, an elderly Jewish man, running to him. Is he coming to chase me away?
The wayward son braced himself for a rebuke but instead received an embrace. He expected banishment but was met with kisses. His mumbling apology and thoughts of unworthiness are swallowed up by the love of a Father who will not call his starving son a servant.
A ring for credit to buy showing trust restored is placed on his finger; the best robe is draped over him. Sandals adorn his dusty feet. A fattened calf is selected and slaughtered, and a family celebration begins. The son who was dead, has come alive again; he was lost, and is found, restored again to the family. (Luke 15:24).
He is home! He is with his beloved father and never until now realized how much he loved him.
What died when you crossed the ridge?
You may wonder, given all your past and remaining sin, Who am I that the highest King would welcome me? You recite your unworthiness to yourself, you sit in the pigsty of an old sin, and not only wonder how you got there, but how your King can receive you. The answer is not found in your inherent worthwhileness, nor in God’s neediness for you. You are celebrated, crowned, kissed, and loved because your true elder brother, the one who does not moan when you are welcomed home, went into the city after you and paid off your debts with his own life. He suffered for your sin, and purchased your acceptance.
The ring you wear is his. The best robe that now covers you is his. His sandals, which John the Baptist was unworthy to untie, now rest upon your feet and fit perfectly! God isn’t so cheaply sentimental as to forget all your crimes, but he is so loving as to sacrifice himself for all of them.
A Reborn Child of God
If you have been reborn, if you are repenting of your sin and believing the gospel, you are a child of God. And this status comes with authority: “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave authority to become children of God, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12–13).
You may not feel particularly childlike, you may not be enjoying his word every morning, and you may secretly admit you’re still attracted to sins, but do not let the father of lies convince you that you are not a child of the King of The Universe, because He, that Creator, Said You ARE! You will be forgiven just as the prodigal son was forgiven.
Yes, it’s true. Shed a tear if you must. It’s the truth.
The question can never be, “Who are you to go to God in prayer?” The question now is, “Who are you to stay away when the King has invited you?”
The statement must never be, “God doesn’t want me because I am not good enough”… because the truth is No One beside Jesus Our Christ was ever Good enough, not even his step father, not even his mother Mary, not even His cousin John the Baptizer. No one ever was good enough to meet the perfect standards of God walking amongst men, calling himself, The Son of Man, and Jesus Yeshua HaMashiach Our Christ
You are chosen, not forsaken. You are free, not a slave. He is for you, not against you. You are his child, not an orphan. That is who you are. Because that is who he says you are. And that is who he died for you to become.
He loves you. He embraces you. He crowns you. Now get up! Get out of the mud. Quit feeding pigs.
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