The Loving Father
“And he rose up and came to his own father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion, and he ran and fell on his neck and kissed him affectionately. 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 slaves, Bring out quickly the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fattened calf; slaughter it, and let us eat and be merry, because this son of mine was dead and lives again; he was lost and has been found. And they began to be merry.” (Luke 15:20-24)
Luke 15:11-24 likens the relationship between man and God to that of a son and his father. This shows that when man leaves God, he begins to live a sinful life. Squandering all that he has, he falls into sin. Feeding the hogs symbolizes living the sinful life because hogs are dirty. When you go to the movie theaters or when you go dancing, you are going to the hog pens.
While he was in his poverty, the son came to his senses and began to remember the goodness of his father’s house. He remembered his sins and felt that he was no longer worthy to be his father’s son. He was willing to be a servant instead and was going to ask his father to hire him. So he prepared four sentences for meeting his father. He did not realize the heart of his father. In his father’s heart was the longing for his son.
While the son was on his way back home and was still afar off, his father saw him coming and ran out to meet him. While the son thought that it was a matter of his returning to his father, even the more it was a matter of his father’s waiting to receive him. It is not the sinner repenting and turning to God, rather, it is God waiting to receive him. When he saw the son, the father was moved with compassion, it caused him to run and fall on his son’s neck, and to kiss him affectionately. With His whole heart, the God in heaven embraces the repenting sinner.
After the father kissed him, the son immediately began his prepared speech. But when he had just finished his first three sentences, the father interrupted him. Just as the son did, we prepare a speech, but God brings forth the best robe. This but makes us saved. When a man returns to God and is justified and sealed by the Holy Spirit, he is able to be separated from the earth. Eating the fattened calf signifies Christ prepared for us as our life and enjoyment. Only when Christ comes into us can we be filled and happy.
It was at this time that the father and the son ate and drank and were happy together. Before the son came back, the father had no joy. While the son was away from home, wandering and suffering, the father was also suffering at home. This shows that when sinners are unhappy, God is unhappy. Only when sinners are at home with God, eating and making merry, is God joyful. The younger son who had been lost was found; he had been dead, and was alive again. When a sinner returns to God, he is received and justified by Him. In other words, he is found and he is alive.