It’s a quiet, Sunday afternoon in our home. After breakfast, the children gave me some cards they had made for me. (In a digital age, I am so thankful that my wife has taught our children the dying art of handwriting letters and making cards for loved ones.) The rest of the morning was spent gathering with the saints, worshipping our Lord and Savior Jesus. As brothers led in prayer and song, our pastor shared a couple thoughts on our Heavenly Father. In Luke 15, Jesus shares 3 parables about the lost – the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Parable of the Lost Coin, and the Parable of the Lost Son (aka the prodigal son).
In each of these parables, Jesus reveals God’s heart to seek and save the lost. The man who lost 1 of his 100 sheep was not satisfied with most of them being safe. He left the others to search for the lost sheep and when it was found, “he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!”
The woman who lost 1 of her 10 silver coins, likewise, lit a lamp, swept the house, and when she found her lost coin, called her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her.
But what always cuts me to the heart is the parable of the prodigal son. A son who had all the riches and happiness he could ever desire selfishly runs off to pursue fleeting lusts and foolishness. When he finally comes to his senses, in his mind, the son was already dead to his father. Crawling back with his tail between his legs after his rebellion, his only hope was to be allowed back in as a servant.
But our Heavenly Father stands waiting, seeking, hoping for us to turn back to Him. “But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” (v 20b) He runs to us as we’re just coming over the horizon.
There are many so-called Christians that have this view of a God who is angry, bitter, and ultimately disappointed in His children and our imperfections. They live in fear that somehow they’ll lose their salvation because they fail over and over, despite the fact that Christ died, shed His blood for us, and “entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12)
These parables show a God who rejoices at our redemption. “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10). (Incidentally, our pastor pointed out that in this verse, it is GOD who is full of joy over the repentant sinner. The angels are simply there in His presence witnessing.) God doesn’t hold a grudge against us or take us back conditionally. To do so would imply we’ve somehow earned our salvation to begin with which is clearly heresy.
Our Father in Heaven is Holy. There’s no ambiguity or doubt that He will hold sinners accountable for every sin. Like our earthly fathers, our Heavenly Father also disciplines His children. To teach us. Out of love, not anger or wrath. (Hebrews 12:3-11). Never forget that “The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” (Psalm 103:8) Matthew’s account of the Parable of the Lost Sheep adds – “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:14)
Salvation for the lost is freely available. It is the free gift given to all who believe on the Lord Jesus. Those who know Christ know the Father. And it is only through Christ that the Lost can be Found.
On this day when we celebrate our earthly fathers, do not forget your Father in Heaven who stands waiting, looking for you to come home, to run out to embrace you.