When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 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.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:17-24)
When you get a second to sit down with your Bible today (or perhaps your smart phone or tablet), read through Luke chapter 15. When you do, you’ll see Jesus was dealing with a problem. He was dealing with a group of people who placed value on sin. So much so in fact, this group of people let their evaluations of certain sins impact the way they looked at their fellow human beings. They allowed their evaluations of sin to give them the false impression that they were better than others.
Jesus addressed this problem by telling three parables. And all three of these parables featured something that had been lost. In the first parable, a sheep was lost. In the second parable, it was a coin. But in the third parable, a portion of which is printed above, it was a human being – a son and a brother. Oh, and one more thing. This lost human being had no one to blame for his lost condition, but himself.
Fortunately, this lost man came to his senses. He realized he had been a fool to leave his family and came up with a plan to get back into his father’s good graces (or so he thought). He was going to return home, apologize, admit he wasn’t worthy to be considered a part of the family, and then ask his father to let him work like one of the hired servants.
But you may have noticed this lost son never got to that last part when he returned home. He never got to the part about becoming a mere servant. His father was so excited to see his son; he wouldn’t let him finish! Instead he began instructing his servants to prepare for a huge celebration. His son might as well have been dead for all he knew! But now he was home—ALIVE!! He was lost, but now was found!
This lost son thought he had to do something to get back into his father’s good graces, but in reality, he didn’t have to do anything! He wasn’t forgiven because he came back. He was forgiven because his father loved him dearly. He was forgiven, because his father was merciful!
And so are we! Just like this lost son was forgiven simply because his father was merciful, we’re forgiven simply because our God is merciful! Our God is so merciful he sent his very own Son to this world to give his life for your sins and mine. That means our sins, no matter how great or small they may seem, have been washed away!
We might evaluate sins differently, but our God doesn’t. To him, sin is sin. And that’s really good news! That means, it’s not about what we do for our God, but about what he did for us!