“So, he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’” Luke 15:20b-21
Father’s Day is a time to celebrate a gift of God — earthly fathers. God created earthly fathers to be a living and breathing display of who he is: God is a protector, God is a provider and God is a leader. And while some earthly fathers may fail, remember who God is — he is a forgiving God, a loving God, and a merciful God. This God will forgive the lowest and foulest of sinners. This is why God is known as “The Forgiving Father.”
Some of you fathers may say, “I’m too mean,” or “I’ve gone too far,” or “I’ve sunk too deep in sin” to be forgiven. That is nothing further from the truth! God will forgive the most terrible sinners. God promises to forgive us of “all” sin. There is nothing that is skimpy about God’s forgiveness. All of our forgiveness is contingent upon our obedience to God’s will.
Luke’s Gospel talks about obedience in this prodigal son story. Here he emphasizes the fact that God does forgive. Not only is this parable called the “prodigal son”; it could also be called the “parable of the forgiving father.” The story says that the youngest son had made an unpopular decision! He asked his father for his share of the estate, left home and wasted every cent. This is why this story is so amazing! You see, this earthly father didn’t get upset! Why? Remember, he is “a forgiving father”! So, he ran toward his son — with arms wide open!
Isn’t it interesting how Jesus used “an earthly father” to depict the readiness — of the “Heavenly Father” — to forgive those who come to him in humble repentance? No matter how far we have strayed from God, we will be forgiven. Jesus is teaching us that no one has sinned — to such a degree that it’s impossible to turn back to God in repentance and receive forgiveness.
Jesus used this parable to unveil the heart of God. It was intended to teach us about the infinite grace and tenderness of God, using the father’s heart! It also pictures the image of a hunting God that seeks and searches for the least and the lost, the dead among the living, and those who are a long way off.
So, it really doesn’t matter if you were a murderer, a thief, or a drunk — rich or poor; or what you own, where you live or what you drive. Our God is constantly seeking and searching for each and every one of us because he is “The Forgiving Father.”
Rev. Marion J. Miller is senior pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church, Jeffersonville. Contact her at 812-283-3747 or email@example.com.