Links Daily Devotional

The Love of Our 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.” (Luke 15:20, ESV)

This single verse is one of my favorite verses found in all the Scriptures. Why? In my opinion, it paints one of the best pictures of the love that God has for his children.

It is by his love and grace that the Father saves us, redeems us, and sanctifies us.In this story, we see a son turn away from his family in a harsh way and his father running after him. He first asked his father for his inheritance, which implied to the father that his son wished he were dead. The son then took all the inheritance and “squandered his property in reckless living.” It got so bad that the son “was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate.”

As Jesus told this parable to many groups of people, the Pharisees and “law abiders” among them were intently listening and waiting for the father to take action against this younger son of his through punishment, discipline, and retribution. However, the response of the father (found in verses 20-24) was staggering, especially to this group of people, and was quite the opposite of what they (and we) expected.

Here are two selected observations from this single verse as it shows the true love God has for us, his children:

1. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion…” I can picture the younger son now, walking, with a big limp, with very little clothing on, and dirt and scum all over him. At times, I picture him crawling toward home, as he barely has any strength to walk. However, the father’s response wasn’t one of disgust, remorse, or condemnation. He felt a genuine love, compassion, and sympathy for his child who was lost. This then led to the action.

2. “…and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” The beauty of God’s love doesn’t say to go clean up and act presentable before the one and only God. It would be just that—an act that God can see straight through. What does this father do? Through the filth, starvation, stinky, dehydrated, nastiness of his son, he embraced him. And not just a side hug. We are talking a huge, massive bear hug. What would have resulted from this hug and kiss? The father would have become filthy, nasty, and stinky as well.

Brothers and sisters, this is beautiful. Our God takes on our filth, our junk, our pain, our starvation through his Son Jesus and his sacrificial death on the cross. He doesn’t want us to get ourselves ready to be in his presence or clean up or attempt to be as presentable as possible. No, this has already been taken care of. He wants to join us in our filth, in our pain, and in our life.

Finally, what did the Father do for his son to celebrate him? He threw the biggest party possible, inviting many people and killing the valuable fattened calf to feast on. It is the kind of over-the-top celebration Tracy Hanson wrote of just the other day when she saw in an exuberant golfer the kind of reminder we need to celebrate our salvation. But here is the wonder: this time we see that God too celebrates! He loves loving us! It is by his love and grace that the Father saves us, redeems us, and sanctifies us. And one day, when we pass away or the Lord returns, our Father will celebrate us, his “prized possession,” and welcome us to live with him in perfection for eternity! Praise be to God for his loving kindness, mercy, and grace!

Rosson Anderson
January 31, 2016
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