As Luke 15 opens, Jesus walks over and sits down next to the despised tax collectors and “sinners.” All the while the “good,” law-abiding Pharisees are muttering to themselves, “this man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15.2). As Jesus tells this “Parable of the Lost Son,” he recognizes his audience: law-abiding citizens, who not only need to understand the extravagant, boundary-crossing love of the Heavenly Father, but who’d be shocked by the scandalous actions of the father in this story.
No father in such an intensely patriarchal society, after being harshly disrespected, would divide his estate and offer his youngest son an early inheritance (15.12). Not only did the father pacify a deep insult, he went further and actually gave his son a portion of himself: what he had worked for all his life. Likely suspecting immaturity and self-seeking folly, the father remains hopeful of his son’s return.
At the first sight of his beloved son, overflowing with compassion, he exposes his legs as he runs to meet his son (this was never done!). He greets him with kisses, robes him with high honor, feeds him fine foods, and celebrates his miraculous return.
As you welcome God into your day, put yourself in the position of the older son watching as your father defies all societal boundaries to welcome your rebellious brother and eat with him. Identify and praise God for ways he has spilled over with compassion and love (acts of mercy, gracious gifts, and forgiveness) toward someone you know.