Pleasing God, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ

The God Who Runs

LUKE 15:17-25 – But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his 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. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.

THEME OF THE DAY. THE GOD WHO RUNS. Today’s scripture is the middle portion of the familiar parable Jesus taught titled, “The Parable of the Prodigal Son.” It is a riveting story that never loses its “teaching power” – all of us live with a potential prodigal in us; its “heartwarming power” – the love of the prodigal father is illustrative of our Heavenly Father’s love to us; and its “warning power” – the older son looked obedient on the outside but had an ugly heart and so may we – have the outward look of a Christian but harbor a critical, unloving, Pharisee-type heart within. Spend time in this section of scripture and ask the Lord to open up its deep spiritual riches. And we will do that right now . . . take a look at one of the great spiritual blessings and insights into the heart of God toward us through the actions of the prodigal son’s father.

First, the father didn’t care about the opinions of people or cultural expectations. What did he do when he saw his son? He ran after him, not gingerly, but as running a sprint. John MacArthur writes, “Make no mistake: in the context of that culture, the father’s action of running to the boy and embracing him before he even came all the way home was seen as a shameful breech of decorum. For one thing, noblemen in the cultural did not run. Running was for little boys and servants. Grown men did not run – especially men of dignity and importance.” Why run? Why bring public shame to yourself? Love. Unwavering and committed love. The father’s boy was repenting and returning. All he could do was run to him. That is what love does. And that is what God does to us. He runs. He seeks. He “sprints” and He knows what He is getting in us; not perfect people or sheep with pristine clean wool. No, He is getting messed up people who will continue to mess up. And our running God says, “I know all that but run into My waiting arms. My love knows all about you and I will still embrace you.” Oh, friends, no matter how far down the prodigal trail we may have traveled, turn around and look down the path. We will see a “running” God ready to receive and restore us.

Another look at the father’s heart was in the boy trying to show his sorrow to his father by talking of his unworthiness to be received. Let this sink in. Here is the dialogue – And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants. Dad is not going to listen to this self-abasing talk. He knows his son is not worthy and he won’t even dialogue with him about it. He has repented. He has returned. Let the past rest in the past. That is what grace does and that is what our Heavenly Father does with us. Believe Him, not yourself or the accusations of the devil concerning your past.

There is so much more but we are out of space. Get alone with the Lord and talk to Him about this parable. It will lead you to worship Him for being a God who runs after you.

PRAYER: “Father, I praise You for a love that will not let me go.”

QUOTE: “God will let us drift from Him but not beyond the reach of His restoring love.”