A Pastor’s Ponderings: Prodigal Sin Collides with Prodigal Love

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Dave HollandBy Pastor David Holland

But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. Luke 15:31-32

The young man hated mucking out the stinking pig stalls. But he snuck some slop for himself occasionally to avoid starvation and prolong his miserable life. Hunger gnawed at him, his constant companion. Squandering his wealth on wine and women reduced him to caring for pigs.

Life could not be worse for the young man. His shoes gave out, leaving him barefoot as sores on his feet oozed. With clothes tattered, and hair falling out in clumps, even the lice didn’t want him anymore.

He had once been the life of the party. All the girls wanted his attention, as his prodigal money caused the wine to flow freely. Now, he was skimming pig slop. He yearned for the days of his youth eating at his father’s table, overflowing with sumptuous food. Tormented by memories of better days, he came to himself.

The thought drifted into his foggy mind, “I could go to Father for help.” Then he remembered the hurt look in his father’s eyes when he demanded his inheritance years before.

“No, but perhaps he would cut me some slack and hire me as one of his field hands. Anything would be better than this.” So, with some anticipation of rejection, he turned toward home. Filthy, famished and broken, he shuffled toward the very place he had turned his back on. Then, he saw the strangest sight.

In the distance, an older man ran awkwardly toward him. Holding his long, beautiful robes up around his knees, he clopped along in his sandals. As the familiar man approached, he heard him shouting and calling his name. “My son! My son!” Father cried, embracing the young man, sobbing with joy and relief.

“Father, don’t touch me. I stink of my sin. I have failed you, wasting your money and my life. Just hire me as a servant, and I will be happy.”

Passing over his son’s confession, the father ordered the servants, “Bring my son clean clothes, put new sandals on his feet and place my ring on his finger. Let’s eat and have a party to celebrate my son’s return.” The servants responded quickly, incredulous of the prodigal love the father lavished upon his son.

This is Christ’s classic parable told in my words. The story hinges on the scriptural word, prodigal, which usually means wasteful, extravagant, or lavish. In the son’s case, he wasted his inheritance on selfish pleasures. But the father shows us something altogether different as he lavishes his love upon his child. His father saw him and was filled with compassion for him. Luke 15:20.

We have traditionally associated prodigal with the son’s wild lifestyle because we immediately identify with his sinfulness. It is just as true to say that the father’s love was prodigal in the sense of lavishing joy and forgiveness upon the son. Too often, the shame of our sin dominates our thoughts and prevents us from embracing God’s great love.
Prodigal sin collides with prodigal love and crumbles because grace always wins. Sin melts in the presence of the white-hot heat of unconditional love. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1. Can you feel Father God’s loving embrace wrapping around you as He weeps with joy at your return?

This story moves me because Jesus took on all of my prodigal sin and lavished his prodigal love on me instead. I am the prodigal son in His story. How many times have I run after my own desires? I gave myself to terrible habits that ran my soul dry. Why did it always take me so long to run back to the Father?

But here He comes running toward me, the Father of all creation. Weeping, he yearns for me and calls my name. He removes my filthy clothes and dresses me with the white robe of Christ’s righteousness. God puts the ring of His authority on my finger. Then, He calls me “son.”

We go about our lives chasing lesser gods while God waits for us to come home. He lingers on the road, waiting for His colossal love to collide with the magnitude of our sin. God is patient because love always wins.

Dave Holland pastored churches for 38 years before retiring in Destin. He recently released his new devotional/Bible study based on the Gospel of Luke titled “Extraordinary Jesus: Ignite Your Season of Miracles.” You can get a copy of this book from his website, DaveHolland.org, or at Amazon.com. Pastor Dave is available to preach and teach in churches and conferences. Contact him at DavidvHolland54@gmail.com.