We have reached the critical point in the story Jesus told about the father’s reaction to the return of his son. Remember, Jesus was not just talking about the boy’s father but also His Father – God, the Father. He was telling us about what His Father is like.
Again, you can read the full story in Luke 15 in the Bible.
The boy decides to return home after wasting his inheritance hoping his father will hire him as a servant. It is the best he can hope for. As he comes near the family home, he sees his father running towards him. If it were you, what would be going through your mind? ‘What’s he going to say?’ ‘Is he going to beat me?’ ‘Will he want me back?’ ‘Am I a dead man?’
The Father’s Embrace
But the father does nor say any of these things. In fact, he says nothing to the boy. Instead he takes action, four in all, each one a message to his son. He runs to him, embraces him, kisses him and gives him gifts. Why? Because actions speak louder than words. As it says elsewhere in the Bible:
Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.
The father communicates his love through what he does, not through what he says. The original text of the story says the father ‘fell upon the boy’s neck’. Isn’t that a great picture. Can you see it? This was not a peck on the cheek, a handshake nor pat on the back. This was an unreserved hug.
Your Experience may be Different
Many fathers today are not so openly affectionate. Maybe their fathers failed to show their emotions openly so they simply passed on this toxic generational trend. Other fathers want to show their love, but don’t know how. They cannot find the words to say. They suffer from frozen feelings such that they cannot demonstrate their love to their children. Still other fathers start out loving their children, but they experience rejection and end up rejecting their child.
If that sounds familiar to you, please see the father in our story running to his boy and hugging him.
The picture of the father embracing his boy is critical for understanding what God is like. It shows us that God is the Father who loves us for who we are, not for what we do, the father who is not afraid of open displays of affection.
When we become a Christ-follower, we choose to put our trust in Jesus and in what He did for us on the cross. We are ones who follows Jesus. We then engage in an eternal friendship with Him.
But that’s not all. Jesus did not come into the world to draw attention to Himself. He came to show us the way back to the Father. Jesus came because Father sent Him, and the Father sent Him because we were spiritual orphans alone in the universe. Jesus came to show us the God who created the universe, put the stars in place, is the father we’ve been waiting for all our lives. The perfect father.
He shows us a Father who looks with great compassion on the likes of you and me when we decide to turn around and return home to His arms of love. He shows us a Father who runs towards us when we turn towards Him. And he shows us a Father who embraces us when we return, who falls upon our necks and weeps with joy over our return.
Yes, to be a Christ-follower is to be a follower of Jesus. But it’s also to be a child of the perfect Father
Experiencing the Fathers Embrace
How can we know the Father’s love experientially? The answer is the Holy Spirit. We will talk more about the Holy Spirit in subsequent blogs but for now the Holy Spirit is part of the God-head. He is personal; a divine person, part of the three-in-one God-head. He is also powerful. He is God’s presence in great strength.
Why is He so important? The Bible gives us the answer. In Romans it says:
For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the
Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.
What this means is the only way we can know the Father’s love is by the work of the Holy Spirit. Later, the author of Romans continues by saying:
So we should not be cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family – calling Him ‘Father, dear Father’. For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God’s children.
WOW! We are not slaves subject to the whims of an evil dictator. We are sons and daughters of the perfect Father! We are encouraged to act like it. Not to be fearful of God, but to know we are His children. Come to Him as a child comes to his loving father! WOW!
I remember vividly when this came home to me. Many years ago, I was in a church service. While experiencing God in a powerful way, I felt big arms envelope me in a hug. I open my eyes to see who it was but there was no one there. I closed my eyes again and the hug returned. Again, opening my eyes there was no one there. It was the Holy Spirit showing me the embrace of the Father the same way the boy experienced it in our story. I long for that for you.
The Arms of Love
The lasting lesson in all this is that the father in our story is a dad who goes for embrace rather than exclusion. Read that sentence again. The lasting lesson in all this is that the father in our story is a dad who goes for embrace rather than exclusion.
I want you to know that ANYONE can experience the affectionate embrace of the Father. This is not a privilege reserved for a select few. This is the promise of God.
Why not ask Him right know to reveal Himself to you as your loving, affectionate Father? Ask Him to show Himself to you in a way that you cannot mistake.
Let me know how He responds.