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Have you ever realized that they never mention the name of the Prodigal Son? Do you think that’s because we are actually all Prodigal Sons? There are so many times in our life when we walk away from God thinking we can survive on our own. The son represents all of our personal rebellions against God. And unfortunately, we usually have to hit rock bottom before we come to our senses and recognize our sin.

The father in the story clearly represents our Heavenly Father. He waits patiently for his son’s return, just as God so patiently waits for each one of us. And when we return with humble hearts, God so lovingly shows us His compassion and grace. In story we see that once the father saw that his son was coming home, he ran to greet him. The father running to his son, greeting him with a kiss and ordering the celebration to begin is a perfect picture of how our Heavenly Father feels towards sinners who repent. He offers us everything in His Kingdom and we joyfully celebrate our restored relationship with Him. And the best part: God doesn’t even think twice about any of it. He doesn’t dwell on our past waywardness; He is just so happy that we have finally returned home.

“The Lord does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:10-13)

The other son in the story is a clear representation of the Pharisees. In his self-righteousness, he had forgotten to rejoice when his brother, the sinner, returned to God. He was too self-consumed with issues of justice and equity that he failed to see the value in the fact that his brother had repented and returned. This bitterness and resentment that the older brother feels ends up keeping him from forgiving his younger brother. The Pharisees were so focused on their religion of good works that they failed to understand the grace of God and failed to comprehend the meaning of forgiveness. It was therefore not what they did that hindered their relationship with God, but rather what they did not do that alienated them from God. They were irate at the fact that God was receiving ‘unholy’ people into His Kingdom, failing to see their own unholiness and their need for a Savior.

This story has many life lessons. One of which is how we should continually forgive others. The picture of the father receiving the son back into a relationship despite his wrongdoings is a picture of how we should in turn respond to other sinners. We have all sinned and we are all saved by the grace of God, not by our good works.

Who are you in this story? Are you the prodigal son or are you the other son, the Pharisee? Are you the rebellious son, lost in a land far away from God? Or are you the self-righteous Pharisee, focusing on earning God’s love through your good works? Maybe you’re at a point in your life where you’ve hit rock-bottom. Now is the perfect time to start running towards the open arms of God. He awaits you with compassion and grace.

Jesus Hold Me Now (Casting Crowns)  – Click here to listen to the song on YouTube.

Living on my own, thinking for myself
Castles in the sand, temporary wealth
Now the walls are falling down
Now the storms are closing in
And here I am again

Jesus, hold me now
I need to feel You in this place
To know You’re by my side
And hear Your voice tonight
Jesus, hold me now
I long for Your embrace
I’m beat and broken down
I can’t find my way out
Jesus, hold me now

Curse this morning sun, drags me into one more day
Of reaping what I’ve sown, living with my shame
Welcome to my world, and the life that I have made
One day you’re a prince, and the next day you’re a slave

Lord, I just looked up today
And realized how far away I am from where You are
I don’t know what else to pray
Broken at Your feet I lay
The life I’ve torn apart

Jesus, hold me now
Jesus, hold me now
Jesus, hold me now
Jesus, hold me now