“And he arose and came to his father. 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.” (Luke 15:20, NKJV)
Home. It had its own feel, its own smell, its own familiarity. That worn spot in the carpet was still there, and the same picture hung over the couch. There was lemon pie in the fridge, peanut butter fudge on the counter, and warm hugs at the door. When I called out, “I’m home,” I knew I was welcome there. I was loved. Sadly, the only way to visit home these days is in my memory. The family home is no more.
Not everyone enjoys the same warm memories of home as I do, and for that I’m sorry. Others, because of choices they made long ago, are reluctant to even return home. They fear they will no longer be accepted and welcomed. That must have been how the prodigal son felt when he dejectedly made his way back to his father’s house.
Luke 15 tells the prodigal’s story, one of the most familiar of the parables Jesus told. A discontent young man wanted the thrill of new places and new adventures. Asking his father for his portion of the inheritance now, he left home without a glance back. Not surprisingly, his exciting new friends lasted as long as the money flowed. Now broke and friendless, the laughter died and the fun ended. The party was over. He found himself destitute and alone.
Desperation finally overcame shame. He understood that he needed to go home. Practicing his speech to his father along the way, the prodigal felt he no longer deserved the privileges of a son. He had wasted his inheritance and disappointed his father. But hopefully, dad would allow him to return as a servant. That would be sufficient. What the sin-weary young man did not expect was his father’s reception. He greeted him with joy, not judgment. With love, not loathing. With rejoicing at his return, not reproach for his actions. His father exchanged his rags for a fine robe. He was forgiven; he was welcomed; he was restored. He was home. This was where he belonged. And that called for a celebration!
Perhaps you left the Father’s house a long time ago and are now ashamed to return. Don’t be. Your Father has been eagerly waiting and watching for you to come home. You may still have the stench of the pig pin clinging to you, but He has a fresh garment ready for you to wear. Your chair is still at the table. You are part of the family, and heaven celebrates your return.
And if you are that elder brother who remained home and just kept faithfully working—put your arm around your brother and welcome him back. It’s called mercy. He needs it; you need it. The Father loves you both equally. Let the real party begin!
“’For this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” (Luke 15:24, NLT)