This is the parable of the Prodigal Son. A father has two sons. The younger son requests his inheritance in advance and heads to the city to find his fortune. Things do not turn out well for this inexperienced young man. The end result of his decision is to be feeding the swine of a land owner he does not know. He is so hungry that he is tempted to eat from the swine's trough. As he is contemplating his situation he recalls how in his father's house the servants eat better then what he is presented before him. The son has had enough and decides to head back to his father. He will beg his father for forgiveness asking to take him in not as a son but a hired servant.
15:18,19; "I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants."
It is easy to just keep reading the parable because we want to see how the father responds. Does he take him in? Does the father make the son pay everything back? Is there a happy ending for this misguided son? But there needs to be a pause here. The son is overwhelmed with how far he went away from his home and his family. His feelings of guilt and shame are a weight that will blind him to his father's response to his return. All the son can see and feel is sorrow. He is going to ask for the very least position in the household so that he will not also have to feel rejection. But what if the father rejects him still? The son is probably being haunted by "What ifs?" all the way back to the house.
I am there. I am right there stuck at verse 19. I have got a plan as well. I will commit to the very least. Actually, how about I just don't commit at all. How about I just stay right here where it is safe. Or how about I reject you first before you reject me. I do not want to be hurt again. But I prayed for this. I sought this out and now that I found it...I am stuck. Do I go forward taking a risk that I will be rejected?
vs. 20, "And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him."
Back to our Prodigal Son. Verse 20 starts out with the son heading back to the father and the father seeing him from a great way off starts running towards him. He was literally moved with compassion. That father could not get to his son fast enough. I think I can safely assume the father was overcome with emotion at this much anticipated reunion though the father had no idea when or if it would ever happen. When he finally reached his son he grabbed him by the neck hugging and kissing him.
The son doesn't get it. He does not realize what is going on. It does not register that his father is hugging him and kissing. His father probably has this huge smile on his face however, he son is blind to all that is happening. He is still sticking with his plan. He is not moved because he can see or feel nothing else but shame and guilt. He is going to beat his father to the punch.
vs. 21, "And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son."
The son makes his heart wrenching speech while waits for the blow of rejection...or acceptance. Everything about his demeanor must have shown his brokenness and vulnerability. What is his father going to say? It did not even register to him how his father just treated him. Oh, sure, his father is glad he is back and not in a ditch somewhere dead but back with full rights as his son? No way!
vs. 22-24, "But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry."
But...the father would hear none of that. The father's heart was ready and receptive to his son's feeling. His father could see how his son felt. He could tell his son was hurting. The father was paying attention and he made it very clear to everyone standing there that his son that was dead is now alive. There was going to be no working as a hired servant for this son. He was instantly reinstated.
I am not as lucky as the son in the parable. I do not know what my verse 20 is going to be. I do not know if I will be rejected or accepted. I am not talking about God either. I know God accepts me right where I am but people are not like God sometimes. My experience tells me I will be rejected. I will be told I can't be used for this position or that one. I will be told the decision I made was wrong. If I would have done this or that God could have had time to work.
Or I could just stay at arms length and not commit. The prodigal son did not sound defensive like I do.