He was a long way from home. He left home well-funded by inheritance from his father and travelled into a far land. Now, away from his father’s restraints, he was in charge and life was a “riot.” In time he wasted his goods and famine sent him into abject poverty. He was hired to feed hogs and would gladly have eaten with them. No one gave him any food. Then he had a moment of sanity, a realization of his wrongdoing and what it had cost him. He decided to go home.
At home all was good. The father, the family and servants had plenty and bread to spare. There was a fat calf in the stall, ready for a special occasion. The father thought his son might be dead, but he watched the road and one day he saw him at a distance. He’s coming home! He ran to him, embraced him and kissed him. The son confessed his guilt. “I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son” (Luke 15:21). All the father would consider was that his son was alive! His lost son is found! He told the servants to prepare for a celebration. “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” (Luke 15:22, 23). His sonship is restored.
This wasteful, sinful man received more than he expected and more than he deserved. He had resolved to ask his father to let him live as a hired servant in his house, but the father’s love for him and joy in having him back alive and well caused him to forget the loss, the hurt and grief he had caused. He’s like one reborn. Jesus gave us this parable to teach us how willingly and gladly God receives us into the “household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).
The calf speaks of the blood sacrifice Jesus made to pay sin’s death penalty for us. By Him we who “were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). We are reconciled to God by the cross of Christ and the enmity of our sinful flesh is replaced by unspeakable joy and indescribable peace. Only by experience can we know this blessedness. He calls us back to Him by a personal visit that only He can make us to understand and know is real. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence” (Psalm 139:7)? No matter how far you may go from God, His Spirit is there beckoning you home. Don’t wait. Many in the far country of sin never make it back to God. Reconciliation with God ends in eternal life in Heaven. The only other choice is eternal death in Hell.
When you return to God’s house, your sins will be blotted out, forgotten by Him. If you believe the Gospel, repent of your sins, receive baptism to speak your resurrection from sin, God will robe you with righteousness, both positional and experiential, and you will have His Spirit with you and in you. You can walk the high road with power greater than all Satan’s efforts to destroy you. Just go home! God is waiting and the Bread of Life is there. No matter how far away from Him you are, God will meet you with open arms.
Betty Carlton, January 8, 2021