“Jesus loves me! This I know…” – we’ve sung this simple song since childhood, but if we are honest, many of us are yet to truly believe it. Look around. What does experience teach us? Love is fleeting. Love is a feeling. Love must be earned. Love is conditional. Our résumé must be constantly updated. So we struggle to love ourselves, to love and to be loved.
Consider the prodigal son. After demanding his future inheritance be paid out immediately, he traveled abroad, partied like there was no tomorrow, and ended up destitute, desperate, hungry and alone. “But when he came to his senses…” (Luke 15:17 NASB), he remembered home, headed that direction and rehearsed the apology to his father ending with: “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” Sounds reasonable.
But the story takes an unexpected turn: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20 NASB). For this to happen, it meant that the father was waiting at the window…and watching. He ran, embraced a filthy kid, interrupted his son’s speech halfway through, and, as the imperfect tense of the Greek word indicates, he “kept on kissing him.” Then the father called for the best robe, the finest ring, and the fattened calf to celebrate: “For this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found” (Luke 15:24 NASB).
Some of us are moved to tears at this scene, but some of us think – perhaps most of us think, “How can that be?! It doesn’t make any sense. That’s just not the way it works in real life. This guy owed his dad an apology. He was unworthy. He needed to re-earn his father’s trust. He deserved to work it off and repay his debt.”
And you know why we say that? Because we are the older brother. When he learned what just happened, he became angry and rebuked his father, “Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours, but you never gave me…” (Luke 15:29 NASB).
The truth is neither son understood their father’s love. One thought he must earn it, and the other thought he had earned it. One took the father’s goodness and wasted it. The other always had the father’s goodness and wasted it.
If you look up the definition of “prodigal,” it can either mean: 1) spending money or resources freely, recklessly or wastefully or 2) having or giving something on a lavish scale; extravagant.
We see a prodigal son when we are meant to see a Prodigal Father.
We are definition #1 – wasteful and wayward in one way or another, but our Father is #2 – lavish and extravagant in pouring out His love. We are sinful, but we are embraced and covered by the incomparable love of our Father. We may be Gomer, but God is Hosea – pursuing us with a steadfast love in spite of our unworthiness and unfaithfulness. We do not deserve nor could we ever earn His love, but He clothes us in the righteousness of His Son, showers us with His goodness and then celebrates with us.
This Thanksgiving, let’s rejoice and give thanks for God is good! Thank Him for a love so amazing words cannot describe it. Thank Him for a love in which the greatest dimensions of measurement fall woefully short (Ephesians 3:17-19). For His is a love that can only be shown, not spoken – a love that is only accurately measured by Jesus’ outstretched arms on a cross and only truly seen in a Prodigal Father running to embrace his wayward sons.
Yes! Jesus loves me!
In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He LAVISHED on us (Ephesians 1:5-8 NASB).
Spread the Word!
© 2015 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries