Bible Society of South Africa

Grace: A lost son and a father’s grace – 2 November 2022

By Louise Gevers

Bible text(s)

20So he got up and started back to his father.

“He was still a long way from home when his father saw him; his heart was filled with pity, and he ran, threw his arms round his son, and kissed him.

Luke 15:20GNBOpen in Bible reader

The words, “his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him” will evoke empathy in any parent who has watched their child suffer hardship and has felt the burden of their pain, whether or not it was their own fault.

Sometimes when children do make unwise choices that undermine their values and lead to heartache, it’s even harder to watch, in spite of knowing that they are likely to grow wiser through their experience; and when a child then comes to his senses and returns repentant, indescribable joy ensues as he is received with grace and forgiveness.

To make this point, the leaders of a youth group I once belonged to, caused much hilarity as they acted a skit of the meeting between the father and his long-lost son. Eagerly running to meet each other, father and son, absurdly, narrowly missed connecting in their haste and excitement and ran past each other – again and again – while the Teens’ hearty laughter only diminished when the serious teaching on the Lost Son began, and they became focused.

As Jesus tells this parable, the generosity of the father’s compassion and grace is exposed. He chooses to forget his own distress at what had happened and doesn’t punish his son. Instead he restores him and rejoices that the son who had been lost to him, after leaving to squander his inheritance, had returned home, penitent – a triumph of grace.

We can all identify with being lost at one time or another, physically or spiritually, and feeling hopeless because we don’t know how we can undo the wrong we’ve done; we doubt that we will find grace. Yet, although it’s hard to admit being wrong, it’s only when we do as the lost young man did, and say, “Father… I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son.’’ (Luke 15:21) that we are able to receive the grace that has been waiting for us all along, and be restored.

This poignant image of the father daily scanning the horizon, hoping to see his wayward son returning, and then running, overjoyed, to embrace him when he appears, is the very image of God, our Heavenly Father. It transforms the hopeless situation of the lost sinner into a miracle of grace as the Father welcomes him and showers him with love and acceptance.

“He does not punish us as we deserve or repay us for our sins and wrongs. As high as the sky is above the earth, so great is his love for those who have reverence for him.” (Psalm 103:10-11)

God’s heart is rich in grace; His compassion never fails.

Prayer: Our Father, we rejoice that we may know you, and so overcome the struggles we endure daily through the richness of your grace. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.14
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