The Power of our Father’s Love

Luke 15:11-32

I enjoyed a great Father’s Day with my family. I enjoyed a call from my son and daughter-in-law who live on the East Coast and was able to be with my wife and my two other sons. My dad and mom also came over to our house for Father’s Day dinner, so it was a special day.

Spending time with my family made me think. You know, everyone has a dad.  And while many of us have had a great dad, not everyone has had a great dad (I listened last week to Seahawks Hall-Of-Famer Steve Largent’s podcast on his difficult upbringing and estrangement from his dad). And yet, even though not everyone has a great dad, everyone does have a “perfect” dad.  By that, of course, I mean a perfect Heavenly Father.

Our Heavenly Father shows me how to be to be the best dad that I can be, and, really, shows all of us how to be the best person, parent, spouse, son, daughter, and friend that we can be.

Luke 15 contains what the Bible calls “The Parable of the Lost Son,” or what we often refer to as “The Prodigal Son.” Yet I agree with many scholars who feel this parable should really be called “The Parable of the Father’s Heart,” because it speaks about the heart of the father, which is the heart of our “Heavenly Father.”

This is one of the most touching and moving Scriptures in all of the Bible to me. Notice how this story shows us 3 traits of the Father’s heart as told by His Son, Jesus.

Trait #1: INCOMPARABLE LOVE

  • Read Luke 15:11-20.
  • Re-read verse 20: “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.
  • Notice 4 things about the Father’s heart here in v. 20 – and then personalize it.
    • He was looking for him: vigilance.
    • He was always on his heart: compassion.
    • He never left his thoughts: devotion.
    • There was nothing/no one more important to him: priority.
  • God is looking for you. You are always on His heart. You never leave His thoughts. There is nothing more important to the Father than YOU.
  • The son does not receive the love of the Father because he deserves it, because his life merits it, or because his respectful living has earned it. The Father’s love is unmerited, undeserved, and unearned. It is extravagant, unconditional and freely given.

Trait #2: INEXPLICABLE ACCEPTANCE

  • Read Luke 15:21-24.
  • In verse 21 the son is preparing to give his speech, admitting how he has blown it. But notice in verse 22 that his father doesn’t let him get too far into his speech. He wouldn’t hear it because his mind, heart, and compassion were on such a higher plane.
  • Take notice of what the father did:
    • Quick!: There was no hesitation on the part of the father. The Father-heart of God is quick to accept and approve.
    • Bring the best robe and put it on him: This was a sign of honor. It showed appreciation and approval.
    • Put a ring on his finger: The signet ring was for sealing legal docs. This was a clear sign of restored authority for his son. It is a picture of restoration.
    • Put sandals on his feet: This validated that he was not a hired hand.
    • Bring the fattened calf and kill it: Let’s have a feast and celebrate. Meat was not a part of the daily diet so this was a big deal!
    • Why?: God says – Because there is nothing more important in the world to me than my child. He was dead and now he is alive!
  • Think for a moment about the power of being loved and accepted by God. To be loved and cared for. To be accepted and not cast out. This is not a story of someone being rejected by God because they blew it. It is a story of an ever loving, always accepting Father.

Trait #3: INDESCRIBABLE FORGIVENESS

  • Read Luke 15:25-32.
  • The human journey is sadly marked by hurt, disappointment, resentment, and unfulfilled expectations. It is the way of the world. But Jesus shows us in this story, and by his life, that this is not the way of His Father.
  • Forgiveness is a big deal. To know that our failures are not final or fatal and that we can be set free from guilt and condemnation is incredible.
    • The son in this story didn’t deserve to be forgiven – but he was! And God, who is rich in mercy, forgives us. We are justified before Him and made righteous, and He does not hold our sins against us. That is what Jesus is showing His listeners in this parable. God’s forgiveness is full and free.
  • Freely we have received and freely we are to give it away to others in all of our relationships. It may not be easy all the time but it is what Christ calls us to, and He will give us everything we need to triumph as we seek Him and His will in our relationships.
  • Notice the older brother is miffed about his father celebrating his brother. He has lived the right way and yet it is the renegade son that gets the party. The father takes the older brother aside and says, “Listen, everything I have is yours. You are already at the top of my priority list. Your brother has been gone and I thought he was dead. He has come home and it is time for us, specifically me, to remind him that I love him, I accept him, and I have forgiven him.”

The father in this story, just like our Heavenly Father, does not miss the opportunity to prove his love, acceptance, and forgiveness. It is genuine. It is joy-filled. And Jesus said it is meant for YOU!