And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Isn’t that just like us? We come to the Father aware of our sin and sorry for it. We were willing to take the long journey back. We were willing to admit our mistake, and then we are willing to be made a servant instead of a son. We are hoping for just a little bread and water, a job to do to make up for what we have done, some way to repay. Our burden of guilt weighs heavy upon us as we look up to our Father, bracing ourselves for the sting of His rebuke.
But our Father will have none of what we’ve proposed. He will not treat us as a hired servant, a worker, but He lavishes upon us good things. He gives us a robe of righteousness and invites us in for a feast. We won’t be begging for crumbs, but partaking of the best He can give us. And He Himself rejoices over us, glad for our return from the far country. He doesn’t want to punish us, but accepts us back home where we belong.
What an amazing God we have. What a merciful and gracious God we serve. When all we would want is the most meager of blessings, He showers upon us an abundance we can hardly fathom. When we are hoping for Him to be gentle with His punishment, He pardons us completely. When we come crawling back, dirty and smelly and broken from our time in the world, He gives us the best robe and the fatted calf. These are gifts for sons, not for servants, because we are part of His family, and how amazing is that?
What an abundance of love and grace is found in our Father. And even more than this father in the parable who welcomed home his son with open arms, God longs to welcome us into His presence, back into fellowship with Him. He invites all to come—both His children who have strayed and the lost person still wallowing in the pigpen of sin. So let us turn away from seeking our pleasure in the world and turn back to our loving Father and experience all the blessings He has for us as we abide close to Him.