“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 15:20b/NIV).
At first glance this may not seem particularly remarkable. Or perhaps it would be absolutely unusual in our days, as many tend to set their faces firmly on their cell-phones and phone-seized computers hardly noticing what is going on around them.
The son, who received such a warm welcome, had been away for considerable time. He had asked for his share pretty early in his life and had gone off with the money to live his life independently from his father.
Paying a share for a son while still alive may not always be easy economically speaking. After that the money was not available to the father for further investments. He had to carry on with less. Many times the father would have missed the work force of his son. Due to lack of support by one of his sons he had to rely on other paid workers.
He and the other son who remained him had had to face many disadvantages. Life could have been easier and more successful with the support of the whole family.
You might think perhaps the father did not realise from far off in what condition his son returned. This son had failed to make good money. He had lost everything. He had been tending swine and had been desperately short of food. The father might have been shocked and struck by disappointment and ill-feeling after he had seen the returning son from nearby, after he had smelled him and after he had become aware of the filthy condition of his clothing.
There was no sense of success. He was to hear no report of financial exploits his son had made.
Yet the father did not care about all these things. He just knew it was his own son who did return. His attitudes were governed by warmest parental affection.
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put in on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:22-24/NIV).
To us the father is a great example of affectionate kindness. The story helps us to see that true love is patient and kind.
Furthermore the story points us to the love of the Father in Heaven. Didn’t we seek to live independently from Him? Didn’t we fail to care about his word and his instruction? Yet God is very compassionate towards any of us returning to him.
The son said: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” (Luke 15:21/NIV). Wouldn’t God also receive us in a similar way as did the father his son in this story?
The apostle John was convinced: “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9/NIV).