“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ ‘But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it 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 15:21-24
We looked yesterday at the homecoming of the prodigal son, and how his dad embraced him in total love after being gone for so many years. Today, I want to point out another often overlooked facet of this story — the son’s perceived path back home.
You see, all his life, this young man had looked at his older brother and assumed that that’s what his dad wanted from him. His “bro” towed the line, worked hard, was responsible with what he had and just seemed to do everything right. He may have even heard at one point, “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” So, as he was wrestling with the thought of whether or not he should come home, he figured doing so meant that he would finally “give in” and become like his brother. He was going to be his dad’s hired hand, work hard, and earn his way back into the family. However, much to his surprise, his father didn’t give him that option. By immediately embracing him, putting clothes on his back, shoes on his tired feet, and killing the fatted calf, his dad overwhelmed him with acceptance. In essence, he was telling him that he had to choose — he couldn’t live in his father’s household and be a hired hand; he was either his beloved son who shared his name and authority or he was in a distant land. There was no middle ground. While it was a great gift, it undoubtedly made the young man uncomfortable. So it is with the grace of God!
Friend, when you come to Jesus in humble repentance, be prepared to be the guest at a huge party! While you may think you need to take time to earn back his love and respect, nothing could be farther from the truth. As soon as you turn your foot toward home, he is waiting for you, ready to give you His Name, His authority, and His incredible mercy. While it is more comfortable from a human perspective to forge a path back to His good graces over the course of time, that’s not the Kingdom of Heaven. You are either in or out, and once you step across the threshold of His House, you are bestowed with all the blessings and benefits of being a child of God! Isn’t that an amazing thought?
Jesus, it overwhelms me that I don’t have to earn my way back to you, and I thank you for the indescribable gift of your grace.
Does the thought of having a party thrown in your honor after messing up make you uncomfortable? Why or why not?