ODJ: extravagant mercy

November 30, 2013 

READ: Luke 15:11-32 

Filled with love and compassion, [the father] ran to his son (v.20).

When we wrong someone, it’s normal for us to feel distance and shame. We might imagine that the offended person is stewing over our poor behaviour, replaying our thoughtless conduct or writing us off. We may even think there will be a complete disinterest in us until we return and effusively atone for our actions.

If we imagine God to be like this, however, we’re severely mistaken.

Luke recounts the story of a prodigal son who shockingly asked his father for his portion of the inheritance. He made this brazen request while his father was still alive and presumably in good health. For me, the more shocking moment however, is the father’s response. The father “agreed to divide his wealth between his sons” (Luke 15:12).

Whatever reason the father had for relenting to this unwise request, he allowed the son to follow this difficult path. In his heart, the son had already abandoned home; and so, sometimes one has to fully leave to truly return. The father loved his son, and he let his son leave.

The son ran to the far country and wasted all that his father had given him (v.13). A famine came and the son was destitute. He determined to make his way back to his father with a contrite, grovelling speech prepared (v.18). But the father was waiting for the son! (v.20). At first glimpse of his boy coming home, the father sprinted towards him, gathered him in his arms and lavished him with forgiveness.

In Jesus’ culture the father’s actions would be seen as foolish or soft. But this good father (like our heavenly Father) had no ego to protect. The Father’s mercy is extravagant and free. —Winn Collier

Read the story again. Pay attention to the second son. Watch for the way the father pursued this son as well (“His father came out and begged him” v.28). What does this say about God’s kindness? 
How have you been a prodigal to our merciful God? Do you realise that the Father eagerly watches for your return?