“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.”
This has been a difficult journey and a tough lesson for the younger son. Attracted by the lure of worldliness, he had demanded his inheritance and traveled to a far country, where he wasted it all on riotous living. After all his resources were depleted, he found himself alone. Finally, he started to realize how foolish he had been. The prodigal, with a clear change in his attitude and reasoning, decided to return to his father’s house. He confessed his sin, and in sincere humility, offered to take the place of a hired servant, rather than the place he had vacated as a son.
As he made his way toward home, with a new appreciation for what he had left behind, his heart and mind must have been filled with a mixture of fear and anticipation. How would he be welcomed, or would he be welcomed at all? His guilt was like a weight on his weary back. He wanted to be restored to his family, but how could they forgive him of his selfishness and pride? He was ashamed and sorrowful; humbled by his unwise decisions. Undoubtedly, as he drew closer to the familiar sights of home, his anxiousness grew stronger. The repentant young man could never have predicted how his father would receive him. The Scripture records that while “he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”
The prodigal was not met by an angry and bitter dad. He was not confronted with criticism and condemnation from his father. Rather, the father ran to him, and welcomed him with love and assurance. This is the way our Father is when we come to Him in sorrow for the foolish decisions we have made. God is a compassionate Father. He wants to see His children restored to fellowship with Him and the family of faith. What He is looking for is a repentant heart on the part of those who have erred. God wants to see sinners come to themselves and realize how much better we would be to abide in the Father’s will than to pursue the pleasures of sin. The prodigal’s decision to arise and return to his father’s house, turning his back on the world that abused him, is an encouragement to us all. There is a compassionate Father there to greet us.