“From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.” John 1:16 (NIV)
Both the younger and older son in the story of the prodigal son were blinded by pride and couldn’t understand grace. Jesus taught the story to help us experience the Father’s unconditional love. Only then can we effectively pray, “Our Father… ” and bring heaven to earth.
To experience the Father’s love, the younger son had to stop rebelling and return to his father’s care. It took a pig pen to bring that change of heart. You come to your senses in a pig pen. No longer feeling worthy to be called a son, he rehearses a speech hoping to just be accepted as a hired servant. Guilt and shame were taking the place where rebellion had failed to separate him from experiencing his father’s love.
Not only did he need to stop rebelling and return to his father’s care, but now he would learn to stop running and rest in his father’s approval! To his amazement, his father came running to him, threw his arms around him and kissed him! What a welcome home! What unconditional love! What grace! The son didn’t have to earn his father’s approval. This led him to another realization that helps us experience our Heavenly Father’s love as well: Stop resisting and rejoice in the Father’s blessing!
Look at what happens next: “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:22-24 (NIV)
I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for this rebellious son, now filled with guilt and shame to accept his father’s approval. Like him, we can’t imagine how God could accept us in our guilt and shame for the things we have done. The son had rebelled against his father. He had wasted his inheritance. He deserved to be punished and now his dad wants to throw a party and celebrate? No! How could he? GRACE! Grace is the only antidote for guilt and shame! We are not forgiven because we repent or wallow in our shame. We are forgiven by God’s grace. It’s his grace that leads us to repentance! I love the way Oswald Chambers puts it:
“It is my obedience that puts me right with God, my consecration. Never! I am put right with God because prior to all, Christ died. When I turn to God and by belief accept what God reveals I can accept, instantly the stupendous Atonement of Jesus Christ rushes me into a right relationship with God; and, by the supernatural miracle of God’s grace, I stand justified, not because I am sorry for my sin, not because I have repented, but because of what Jesus has done.” (My Utmost for His Highest, October 28)
If we want to experience the Father’s love like this son, we must stop resisting and rejoice in our Father’s blessing! It is His nature to bless us! Not only did the younger son struggle with accepting that blessing, but the older brother was furious about it and refused to come to the party.
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’” Luke 15:28-31 (NIV)
Blinded by his pride and striving to be accepted by his works, he couldn’t understand grace and was about to miss out on all the blessings his father had for him that were all around him! Both sons needed to learn the lessons we must learn as well to experience our Heavenly Father’s love. As children of royalty, we get to call the King, Dad! We can approach His throne anytime 24/7! He has authorized us to bring heaven to earth by praying “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. …” Matthew 6:9-10 (NIV) Don’t miss any of His blessings! Experience your Heavenly Father’s love today and bring heaven to earth!