The Merciful Father
Read the parable of the Prodigal Son and you’ve read the whole Gospel. Understand it and you understand the whole Gospel. But to really understand it, we have to experience it.
There is no question that the prodigal son had behaved badly. Yet when he came home, his father didn’t merely receive him back; he welcomed him back. In the welcome the younger son got, Jesus shows us God’s attitude to repentant sinners. If we are sinners, then God loves us not less but more. God does not love us for being perfect. Rather, He loves and accepts us precisely as sinners.
The prodigal son’s biggest discovery wasn’t that his father forgave him, but that his father never stopped loving him in the first place. Our good deeds and kindness will endear us to many – and that feels great – but it’s an even more extraordinary experience to be loved in one’s sinfulness. This is what grace is all about. Those who have experienced this kind of love know something about the heart of God. God loves us not because we are good but because He is good.
It is through our sins that we experience the goodness and mercy of God. If we never sinned, we’d never know God’s forgiveness. Let us be clear that the parable of the Prodigal Son doesn’t give us a licence to sin, but it does show that if we do sin, we can always come back. Our past can be overcome. We can make a fresh start. Saints bear witness to God’s grace and fidelity. Sinners bear witness to God’s love and mercy.