Remember His Embrace
“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.”
When we are alone, surrounded with a 24-hour news cycle, and restricted from contact with others, it is easy to forget what it feels like to be embraced — to be received by those we love. It is easy to forget what if feels like to be warmly greeted, brought into the care of someone, and reminded that you are loved. In times like these, we need to remember the love God has for us. Luke 15:22-24, I believe, displays this very love. These verses show the love of God for his people so powerfully that it can warm the coldness in our hearts, build a confidence in God’s continued love for us, and comfort us in times of loneliness.
These verses come immediately following the prodigal son’s confession of his sin against God and against his father. He has repented and returned home and, unexpectedly, been embraced by his father. Despite his sinful wanderings, not only was the son embraced by his father, his father continues to lavish love and affection on him. The father calls to his servants, “Bring the best clothes, bring a ring, bring shoes, make a feast. Hurry!” You can almost hear the joyful urgency in the father’s voice. And we can’t help but ask, “Why? Why is he so quickly showing him mercy? Why would he celebrate the return of a son who has so deeply wronged him?”
The answer is simple: the father shows grace to his son because he LOVES his son. He is celebrating that the one who was dead is now alive; he who was lost is now found!
I love this parable and, specifically, this scene because it shows the powerful love of God for his people, and how God, our Father in Christ, celebrates when his children who were lost are found. The interaction we see here is amazing because it reflects the way God, in his love, shows us grace that defies our understanding. Just as the father doesn’t cast away his son, God doesn’t cast us away. He doesn’t leave us to our own demise. Even though we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23); he rescues us, he embraces us, he calls us his children—God shows grace and mercy to those who deserve none of it.
Think about Hosea 11:1–3, “When Israel was a child, I loved him; and out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them.”
God the Father tenderly cares for his children. He loves his people, he calls them his children. As his children slowly grow and develop, he is there to guide them, to teach them to walk, to catch them when they fall, and to bandage up their wounds.
Just as the return of the prodigal son, who deserved nothing, was celebrated by his father exclaiming, “My son has come home!” God the father receives those who confess their sin and have faith in Jesus Christ. In Christ, he welcomes us and calls us his children. We can cry out to him as Father and he tenderly hears our cries, heals our wounds, and eases our fears. This is the good news my friends! This is the love of God that we need to remember in days like these: the embrace that will soothe our worries and comfort our fears. When we are lonely, when we have forgotten the warmth of a loved one’s embrace, when we need the strength of someone to hold us and comfort us, remember the tender embrace of God. Remember that he is full of compassion, gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in mercy and truth (Ps. 86:15).
Come home to the Father. His embrace is waiting!