Forgiveness: Celebrating the Return
Asking for forgiveness involves a lot of trust. Whether you’re asking a person you love or God, you have to trust that the person or God will forgive you. Luke illustrates this through the prodigal son and father. The prodigal son wants his inheritance, so he asks his father for his money. This seems especially disrespectful since inheritances are usually given after someone dies. It seems as though the son is implying that he wishes his father were dead. I’m sure the father must have been heartbroken to see his son leave, especially on such rough terms. The important part of the story is how the father receives the son when he decides to come home to beg for forgiveness. Luke describes the scene: “So he [the son] got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Luke 15: 20, NASB). The father is so happy to see the son return that he runs out to meet him, greeting him with a hug and kiss. The father is not proud. He doesn’t make his son beg for his forgiveness. He is ready to accept him with open arms. The son even attempts to ask for forgiveness, saying, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:21, NASB). But the father doesn’t need to hear his specific confession: “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:22-24, NASB). The father realizes that his son is trusting that he will forgive him. And the father does.
My prayer is that when my family or close friends return back to goodness that I will accept them with open arms, not proudly waiting for a specific confession, but wholeheartedly rejoicing that they have returned back to God. I want to celebrate, just as the Father does when I return back to Him.