Luke 15 v 20. “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.”
Up to this point in this story there has not been much to bring joy. All has been sad and wilful self-destruction. But wait! There’s more to come.
The picture up to now is indeed rather dark. But remember there was one ray of light. The young man came to his senses and said he would go to his father. And that is exactly what he did.
Now picture if you can his inner feelings at this time. Embarrassment, shame, perhaps a sense of worthlessness because he said, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son….”. Now, for us today all these inner workings would be enough to keep people from going back to the one they offended. But Jesus tells this parable so that we may know exactly what we SHOULD do, not what we may FEEL like doing. This young man had what the Jewish people call CHUTZPAH – a sort of audacity, a cheek, a daring to go and ask. Is this a good thing? Well we Christians could learn a thing or two here. We are so often filled with despair and depression because of our own failings we seldom actually enjoy God. But what was it that enabled this young man to say with such audacity “I will arise and go to my father”? It was no doubt the Father’s Character. The lad had grown up with this man. He knew what his father was like. So, notwithstanding his unworthiness, he comes boldly to the man he has disgraced and throws himself upon his mercy.
If only we could do that with God. If only we could have the same certainly about His great grace! We would come, and come again. We would experience His great love and grace for us. Our depressions would fly out of the window if only we had a “chutzpah” kind of faith.
You will notice that the young man expressed his sorrow and then asked – surprisingly – to become a servant. What lay behind this request?
Remember he had taken a lot of his father’s money. His intention now was to show his father the level of his repentance by paying back that money. The problem was he had no job. But if his father gave him a job, he would work hard and try hard to pay his father back.
This is exactly what legalism is. Payback! This is what other religions are about. Earning, earning, earning all the good points for acceptance.
It seems like this young man had not yet fully understood all the rules of his father’s character. He was about to find out.
Do you feel like an unworthy Christian slave? Perhaps you hang on dismally to certain promises but never enjoy the Father’s welcome? You are like this young man. He thought he could no longer be a son, only a servant.