Yesterday I preached on one of my favorite parables in Scripture: the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-24). It’s the story Jesus told of a young man who wanted his wealthy father to go ahead and give him his inheritance, which the father did. The son then did exactly what you would expect him to do: he blew every dime he had on wasteful (prodigal) living. About the time his money ran out, a famine hit the land. Desperate, he took a job feeding pigs, but he still had nothing to eat. About the time that the pigs’ slop starting looking good to him (ACK!!), he came to his senses, realized that his father’s servants lived better than this, and decided to go home and ask to be a servant–no longer to be recognized as the father’s child.
When he was approaching home, the father saw him coming from far off–implying to me that daddy was looking for his son, knowing what would happen and hoping he would return. When he saw his child, he ran out to meet him. This was completely inappropriate for a man of his wealth and social standing–he had people run for him. But as the son tried to apologize and offer to be his servant, the father threw his arms around him, kissed him, and commanded that a robe, rings, and sandals be brought out and placed on his son. A celebration was to be thrown, because the wayward child had come home!
Understand that when the son returned, he likely looked (and smelled) just like he did when he was with the pigs. He had no money, so he couldn’t have stopped off at a place of lodging to get cleaned up. He simply came home, throwing himself, dirt and all, at the mercies of his father.
This is, of course, a picture of God’s love for us, and a powerful one at that. Philips, Craig and Dean have a song called “When God Ran”. Here’s the chorus:
“He ran to me, He took me in His arms, held my head to His chest, and said ‘My son’s come home again!’
Lifted my face, wiped the tears from my eyes,
With forgiveness in His voice, He said, ‘Son, do you know I still love you?’
It caught me by surprise when God ran.”
What an amazing thing. Picture it: when you and I come to God, dirty as all get out, He comes running for us. Why? Because He loves us. Don’t think you have to clean up before you come to the Father–you can’t get clean enough anyway. He just wants you to come to Him. And when you make that turn to come to Him, He’ll run to you.
Why would you turn that kind of love down?