While there are multiple books and resources written about the Person of God the Son and the Person of God the Holy Spirit, there are—comparatively speaking—fewer to be found on the First Person of the Holy Trinity: God the Father.

ETL’s Guest Writer, Dave Gossett, has been gleaning insights into the believers’ heavenly Father and shared one of them with us in our most recent blog, Why Jesus Taught, ‘My Father is the Vinedresser’.  Please join me today in again welcoming Dave as he provides a fresh look at a familiar parable Jesus shared with His listeners.

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The parable of the “prodigal son” is one of the best known and often cited parables of the Bible (see Luke 15:11-31). What isn’t so well known, perhaps, is that it’s main character is the Father. The master teacher Jesus was using this illustration to communicate, in a most emphatic way, truths about… you guessed it:

The heavenly Father

As the story goes, a man had two sons. The younger asked the father for his share of the inheritance. Within that culture, this was an act of insolence, akin to him communicating “I wish you were already dead.” Jesus’ listeners would have understood the gravity of this offense which, under Jewish law, was worthy of death. The father nonetheless divided the property between them, meaning the son received one-third of the estate, leaving less income for the father and his family.

This decision of the father would be considered reckless—even prodigal—which Webster defines as “profuse or wasteful expenditure, recklessly spendthrift.”

The younger son takes his share of the inheritance and squanders it with unrestrained living; to the point where he must resort to feeding pigs to survive. He eventually comes to his senses and heads home for relief, practicing his remorseful greeting to his father as he went.

The father, when seeing at a distance his son (who he viewed as having been lost to him), “felt compassion”. How did he demonstrate this? He ran toward him, something which was against cultural norms. He also embraced and kissed him. We see in the parable these tender acts of the father took place before the son confessed his sin.

As in the case of dispensing the inheritance to his unwise and ungrateful son, the father’s actions in welcoming him back seem fraught with reckless abandon. The father didn’t scold his wayward son or require a demonstration of repentance before treating him with unashamed mercy and compassion.

Jesus’ teaching about the father had to have raised eyebrows among the Pharisees and the scribes (Luke 15:2).

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Oh, how well this story illustrates the heart of our heavenly Father! He is filled with compassion. He is compassion. This is the name (character) He declared about Himself to Moses as He began a rocky relationship with His chosen people which would span millenniums!

The Lord, the Lord God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (Exodus 34:6, also see Exodus 33:19 NASB).

God’s love for the nation Israel never faltered, even though they were a stubborn and rebellious people and suffered the consequences. But through His prophets, He communicated His heart of compassion. Examples include:

Comfort, comfort my people says your God. Speak tenderly to them.” (Isaiah 40:1-2 ESV).

Can a woman forget her nursing child that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even if these may forget, yet I will not forget you. (Isaiah 49:15)

This heavenly Father who adopted a nation in the previous age now adopts individuals (see Galatians 4:5): those who believe in Jesus, His Son (John 1:12) and… get this!

… because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, Abba Father (Galatians 4:6).

Abba is a term which denotes closeness, like our word “daddy”. The Father wants to be our Daddy!

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I suspect that most children of the Father know He loves them. Of course, He does! He has to, doesn’t He, because He is love? Yet some (perhaps, due to hurtful childhood experiences or their own shortcomings) are wondering “Does He like me?” or “Is He fond of me?” May I say? Yes, He does! This Father is, in effect, shouting out through all of Scripture,

“YES, DEAR CHILD, I AM FOND OF YOU!”

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As Christ’s parable continues, the younger son confesses he had “sinned against heaven and in your sight” and “I am no longer worthy to be your son”. From the father’s perspective, the son’s desire to have nothing to do with him was a willful, tragic unity with death but he was now made alive. He was lost but now was found. This is like a second birth. He entered real life and relationship with the father for the first time and he was swept into celebration with the father: his “Abba” father!

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While this should seem an appropriate place to stop and enjoy a happy ending, we read the older son is not at all happy about the father’s lavish welcome of the younger son. He has been the hard working, faithful son for all this time, and he is convinced the reception of “this son of yours” (notice he doesn’t refer to him as a brother) is unfair (Luke 15:28). Nevertheless, the father spoke to him with absolute kindness and mercy (Luke 15:31-32).

Here is something better than any earthly inheritance for us to get a hold of:

As the younger son says, “I am not worthy of being your son”, this is true of everyone. Since the fall of mankind, none of us are worthy of being a son or daughter of the Father. We are in the pig mess, as it were, separated from God and lost in our sins. Except that, the Father loved us so much as to give His only Son, Jesus, to exchange our unworthiness for His worthiness. He died to give us life. The Father spared nothingto redeem us from sin and rejoices over those who once were lost and now are found. He gave all—He gave Himself.

How reckless!

What extravagant love!

What mercy!

Christ’s story ends on a grievously, sad note. Even though mercy was shown to the older son, he refused to confess his own sin, which was anger and pride. He turned his back on the invitation to come and join in the celebration. While apparently never leaving the property, he viewed the father as unfair and distanced himself in his own way.

He, too, was a lost son.

Yet he unfortunately chose to remain in that state, missing out on shared compassion and joy with the one who longed to be his “Abba” father.

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Dear ones, please… don’t you miss out on the celebration with Abba Father over the lost being found (yourself and others) and the eternal joys of being a part of His kingdom!

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

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