I remember a certain day several years back when I worked at Emmanuel College, I found myself in the midst of an excellent discussion that afternoon with several exceptionally bright-minded tenderhearted Christian ministry students who were standing just outside my office, waiting for their rides. We were discussing the book The Shack, and it quickly lead us to a review of our perspectives on several New Testament parables. Here is one of those views that stood out for me.
Luke 15: 11-32, the story of the prodigal son.
- In light of the story of ‘Papa’ (The Shack), what is this parable really about?
- Is the parable about a wasteful son?
- Is the parable about sinful living?
- Is the parable about too lavish of gift (inheritances) to our families?
- Is the parable about the different living standards between those that have and those who have not?
Could it be that in this parable, Jesus is teaching us about the very nature of Papa?
Remember what the Father of the prodigal son does?
I propose that the Father went daily to the property fence-line that gave him the best view to watch for his son coming down the long lane to the house, or, gave Father the best view of the driveway.
My point: Daily the Father went to watch for his son to come home. Father was proactively seeking his lost son.
Our Papa (God) not only goes to the fence-line, He sent His begotten Son, our Brother, Jesus, to come to where we are to make sure that we see the path that leads to home.
Now back to the Prodigal Son.
Luke 15:20 (KJV-Open Bible Edition) clearly presents five specific points, or traits of the Father.
First, when he was a great way off, his father saw him. The point being, Papa is always watching-waiting-yearning for us to come home.
Second, “…and had compassion…”. Sympathy, empathy, concern, kindness, consideration, and care are valid synonyms for the phrase compassion. Point: when we are not in intimacy with Papa, His heart is breaking.
Point: Papa is always fully in love with us and has nothing but heart-felt desire to nurture and provide for us. His love (compassion) is what is causing Papa to come daily to the fence-line to watch for us.
Third, “…and ran…”. A true verb. Papa not only watches for us to return, he runs toward us, with intent to close the gap that separates us.
Fourth, “…fell on his neck”. The Father is embracing the Son, pulling Him to-ward His heart, toward His breast. The closet of embraces. Not just a guy-like hug. A real picture of embracing. Like bringing someone into your private – personal space. The Father goes into the sons personal zone.
Fifth, “…and kissed him…”. The absolute sign of embrace and acceptance. Paul tells us to greet each other with a Holy kiss. Here we see the Father kissing His Son. What a sign of intimacy.
Point: The Father did not tell the son to bathe, to wash his face, or even to change his clothes. No. He just ‘loved-on’ His son as the son was in his condition.
So, now we have a picture of the relationship that Papa (Father) has with Son (Jesus). We also have a picture of the relationship, and the intimacy that Papa wants to have with us.
So I propose to each of us, that;
- Papa is standing at the fence-line waiting for us to make a move toward Him.
- Papa already sent our Brother, Jesus, to show us the path toward home.
- Papa already sees us. He is already watching and waiting.
- Papa is already displaying His compassion to-ward us, and, yet, has so much more compassion to give to us.
- Papa is waiting to run to-ward us. He will close the gap. All we need to do is turn to-ward home!
- Papa is waiting to “fall on our neck”. He is ready, willing, and fully able to embrace us into His absolute love.
Papa will not only kiss us, but will lavish His untold goodness and limitless bounty upon us. So much more than the Father to the prodigal son will Papa to each of us. The feast of the bride and bridegroom, so much more the ‘fatted calf’, the ‘best robe’, so much more than the ‘ring’ and ‘shoes’.
As Bill Gaither penned in one of his many songs, “Won’t you come home! Welcome back home!”
In Jesus’ name, I Remain His Servant.