Every day I pray for my loved ones and other nonbelievers to surrender their hearts to Jesus and become his followers. Spending eternity with Jesus, my loved ones, and all his children is the biggest desire of my heart. It fills me with peace and joy, knowing that our God’s greatest desire is for all of us to be saved.
Last weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder finished up the book of Jonah in the amazing series, Nah, I’m Good. Jonah’s story shows how great God’s love and forgiveness is for all people. Our God desperately wants to save every single person, and he will do almost anything to accomplish this purpose.
The “Parable of the Lost Son” (Luke 15:11-32) is another example of God’s great love and forgiveness. We are going to focus on the father and the second son, who was spoiled and selfish. He had the audacity to go to his father and ask for his share of his father’s estate while his father was still alive. This would be similar to telling his father, “I wish you were dead.” I imagine the father was deeply hurt, but he gave his son the inheritance, and the son left.
The father waited patiently for his son to come to his senses and return home. I am sure he would have been praying for his son. I imagine the father went to the city gates every day, hoping to see his son again.
Meanwhile, the son wasted all his money on wild living. A famine struck, and the son hit rock bottom, starving. He got a job feeding pigs and was so hungry even the slop he fed the pigs looked good to him. One day, he came to his senses. He remembered how loving and kind his father was to his servants, and he was ashamed of the way he behaved. He decided to return home.
18 “‘I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ 20 So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father I have sinned against both heaven and you and I am no longer worthy of being your son.’”
After all that the son had done, the father ran to him and embraced him. The love the father showed his wayward son was highly unusual in that culture. It would have been considered humiliating for an elderly man to run. The son’s behavior had disgraced the father so badly the son probably wouldn’t have been allowed back in the city gates, and the community would have disowned him.
Yet, the father ran to his son so that he would be allowed back into the community, demonstrating great love, mercy, and grace. He was so overjoyed that his son had returned, he threw him a welcome home party.
Like the father, our God is so full of grace, mercy, and compassion for us. He will forgive and restore us if we return to him with a repentant heart. He wants us all to be saved. He waits patiently for us to return. He will do almost anything to bring us back to him, yet we each need to make that choice for ourselves. He doesn’t force it, but there is a huge celebration when one of his lost children returns.
“In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away.”
What have you learned about God from this series? What did you learn about God from the “Parable of the Lost Son”? How will you live out what you have learned?
Father, thank you for loving all of us so much. Lord, I praise you for saving me. I am overwhelmed by your grace and mercy. Use me to bring others to you. Help me listen and obey you. All glory to you, our amazing and loving Daddy. Amen.
This post was written by Marsha Raymond. Marsha has been happily married to her husband, Jeff, for 30 years. They have two grown sassy and fearless daughters. She loves spending time with God, her family and friends, reading, riding bicycles, yoga and walking.
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