When I think of what best depicts the heart of God, I think of the Proverb of the Prodigal Son; unique to the Gospel of Luke. It gives me a clear image of the eternal concern God has for each of His creations. No matter how long the separation, or how great the distance, God is always there to receive His children back….not only with open arms, but with a celebration of joy and love...and clothing us with the best garments!
Luke 15:11-32 And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his belly with the husks that the swine ate: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father; I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
Luke is unique amongst the Gospels, in that far and above all the other Gospels, his tends to focus on the Mercy and Compassion of Christ. Over and over again, it is noted in the synoptic parallels that Luke’s Gospel inserts words of mercy, friendship, and compassion that are missing in the other Gospel accounts. This is the case with the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The portrait of Christ that Luke paints in his recording of this Parable is reflective of eternal mercy and compassion that our Father, God has for us. Not only is God ever waiting for the return of His children, but before we even ask forgiveness, He has stretched forth His hand (runs) to us with compassion and love.
What is brought out very clearly in this Parable is the fact that living a sinful life is like living in prison….a person is not really free to do what they want, but rather they are controlled by their environment. As was the case of the Prodigal Son: what he thought was freedom to do as he pleased was not really the case, because he had to rely on his own understanding and that did not get him very far. When he lived at home under his fathers care, he could rely on the wisdom and provision of his father. This is the case with all of God’s creation, when we live outside the care and protection of our Father, God we are on our own, and many times what we think is desirable turns out to be detrimental to our well being. The child, who is wise enough to know that all his father has is his, need not go experience the heartbreak of living separated from his father in a world of sin.