2.3 The Father: The Kind of Love that Brings Joy (Luke 15:11-32)
Homecomings are times to celebrate-- when a child comes home for Christmas from college, when a father returns from a long trip on business, and when a soldier-mom comes home from being stationed overseas.
When the Father sees his prodigal son coming down the road, what ensues is "the mother of all homecomings." The joy the father feels in his heart at that moment cannot be adequately described in words. Here is a joy, not only of being reunited, but an elation that a turning point in this young man's life is just around the next corner. The sorrow the father feels at the thought of a wayward child gives way to the joy of a dad whose son has intentionally decided to "get his act together" and travel down the path that leads to home and right living.
It is easy for parents to forget their children's sins and shortcomings. The joy of knowing that your son or daughter has finally had enough of the prodigal life means that the past does not matter. The father could care less what his son had done to him; all that matters was that his son was now home. The son may not deserve a second chance, but he gets it. This is grace.
God is hurt by our rebellion, by our sins, by our shortcomings, but when we determine to return to him and begin anew, God is quite forgetful about our past. Why? Because in the depth of God's love for us, the same love that brings him sorrow at our prodigal ways, brings indescribable joy at our homecoming.
The Bible tells us that there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than all those who need no repentance. God finds joy in his love for us. In the Kingdom of God, prodigal sons and daughters are always welcome home.
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I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)