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Fathers’ love (3)

by on September 24, 2012

The father who had two sons

And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living…. And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing… he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him”
(Luke 15 ESV)


I am talking about Fathers in this short series – so it is the father on whom we will concentrate today, just briefly. Here was a father who was actually insulted by his youngest son. I want my inheritance now! That would never have happened in a middle-eastern family during those days. Inheritance was given when the father died – the father would have taken this as a real insult, equivalent to his son saying that he wished he was dead (thanks to Andy McIlree for some great exposition on this). But the father graciously gives the son what he wants and lets him run wild. But he never stops loving him. He never stops watching for him. 

The day comes when the son comes home in shame, and the father runs to him before he can even get to the gate. A father in such a  patriarchal society would never have been seen running. But he does. He embraces him. Kisses him. Get him the best robe! Do you know who would have owned the best robe? The father! And his rings. And the fattened calf, the best meat – enough to feed the whole village,and very costly indeed! What lavish love poured out by the father, on one who had been rebellious in the extreme.

The older son, of course, was raging about this. Ironically, it is the older son who misses out on the feast – a point always driven home by Tim Keller (see his book, the Prodigal God).  The wasteful, wild son repents and comes to the feast. The older son thinks he has nothing to repent for, and misses out on the feast. But understand this – the father loved them both. And he wanted them both to be at that wonderful feast, enjoying the delights of his table.

That’s how God feels about men and women. Though some live like God is dead, though some want God to be dead, He wants life for us, He wants us all to be at the coming feast in Heaven – and even enjoying the delights of His table now. It doesn’t matter who you are – so long as you repent and come to Him as you are. He, the Great Father, loves us all and his desire is for everyone to come to Him. What a great, gracious, patient, father in the story of the man with two sons.

It’s a picture of God.

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