“While he was still a long way off . . .”
Scripture: Luke 15:20b-21
“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.
21“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
Reader: This is the word of the Lord. Response: Thanks be to God.
We may think of this story as a parable about the two sons, but this phrase tells us it may be more about the boys’ father and his love for them. Jesus’ parable is truly to show the depth of the father’s great heart and generous love for his sons, both of them. There is something here that is unique in all of Scripture. Something occurs in this parable that does not happen anywhere else in the Bible. Read the verses above again and see if you can figure out what it is. What is it?
Except for this parable, nowhere else does God ever “run” towards his children. Jesus walked everywhere. He never ran to a situation. Sometimes he deliberately stayed where he was and made a point of not going after someone (E.g. Lazarus). God never runs after people. He does not force his way into people’s lives. But he is always near at hand ready to receive his own. He gives people freedom and choice. But here is a beautiful picture of God’s love for the repentant person. The son had turned on his own toward home, and the father, filled with love, saw him and ran to him, put his arms around him and kissed him. The running was motivated by love and compassion. He hugged his son and kissed him. Can you imagine the son’s response. What did the son learn about his father? What do we learn about God? God is patiently waiting for us to turn around when we push down the road where the street sign says “Self.” There is not a wagging bony fingered condemnation for our stupidity but a warm embrace and “glad you have come back home.” Can you offer this kind of love to someone today?
Music: “He Ran to Me” Craig and Dean
Prayer: Bring us, O Lord God, at the last awakening into the house and gate of heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but an equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity, in the habitations of thy majesty and thy glory, world without end.
–John Donne, 1571-1631