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
This is possibly the one verse in scripture that most encapsulates the Father Heart of God. Jesus is telling a story that we now call the prodigal son. It should be called the rejoicing Father. The story has somewhat to do with the Son but everything to do with a Fathers heart for his boy.
So often Christians preach about a God who loves conditionally. He only loves us when we have it all together, when we are fulfilling our religious duties or when we are on our knees full of shame at what horrible wretches we are. Here Jesus turns that up on it's head. He paints a picture of a Father standing on the balcony of heaven peering down waiting, yearning for his kids to come home. Waiting for his kids to realise he is the source of all love, joy, peace and hope.
It must drive Jesus nuts at how wrong we get his Father. Consistently one of my favourite verses is 2 Corinthians 5:17-19.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.Jesus came to reconcile man to God, not God to man. God didn't have to have his mind changed about us. He didn't have to be convinced to love us. Jesus came to point us to the Father he talks about in this parable. A Father who loves us unconditionally. A Father yearning for his kids to turn to him.
We often think, and tragically are often taught that God has one hand on the smite button, waiting to gladly send us to the pit of hell. Just waiting for us to screw up so he can say 'See, I told you they deserve my wrath!". The son thought this and was coming back to his Father with a nicely rehearsed religious prayer. He thinks his sorrow and repentance will open the door to his Fathers heart. Maybe a huge dose of humility and a lot of repenting and weeping and wailing will maybe, just maybe get him a job with the servants and a bed in the stable. He comes back to his Father with his nice religious prayer
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.
What happens next is astounding. The message translation says
But the Father wasn't listening
It's not about us, it's not about what we do. It's about the Father. It's about the Father who didn't want to hear his kids religious prayer, he just wanted him home. It's about a Father who ran to his boy, threw his arms around him and kissed him. It's about a Father who shouts
"MY SON'S COME HOME, LET'S THROW A PARTY FOR HIM!!!"
That's who God is. Yes sin is drastic and can keep us away from the Father but guess what? He's peering down from heaven waiting and longing for his kids to come home. Staying away from God because of our sin means we don't know the heart of our Father. While we were still sinners Christ died for us, we don't have to have it all together. In fact he know's we won't but again, guess what? He loves us anyway. He loves us. We don't come to the Father to escape the fiery pit of hell, we come to the Father because he's our Father, because he's jealous for us, because he's mad about us and we make his heart leap when we think about Him and it does the same when he thinks about us. He really is that good.