Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Cornovavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. (Ephesians 3:18)
God is love. How much does He love us? Nobody can measure the size of His love. It is bigger than the ocean, and wider than the immense span of the night sky completely filled with sparking stars riding on the milky way crossing from one side of the night sky to the other side. Yes, no one can fathom the length, width, and depth of His love.
One day Jesus was preaching the kingdom of heaven. Jesus healed the sick and gave hope to the people suffering and mourning. Tax collectors and other notorious sinners also came to listen to Jesus’ teaching. At that time, tax collectors were treated as the worst sinners. Why? First, they collected taxes from their own people for the Romans. Additionally, they actually collect more than they supposed to, and they gave to the Roman oppressors only a small portion from what they collected. They took the rest for themselves. They were indeed thieves who stole money from their own people by the power of the Romains. Their reputation was notorious. Therefore, nobody wanted even to get close to tax collectors.
The Pharisees and teachers of religious law were also there to hear Jesus’ teaching. Their goal was not like that of the other people who wanted to have peace and comfort from the message of Jesus. Instead, they were there to monitor Jesus and to police the crowd gathering around Jesus. As soon as they saw tax collectors, the Pharisees and teachers of religious law made a big deal about the tax collectors whom were with Jesus. They shouted that Jesus was associating with the worst sinners in order to make Jesus look bad. They also testified that they saw Jesus was sitting together with tax collectors and eating with them. Their goal was to give a maximum damage on Jesus, Jesus’ reputation and ministry.
Jesus knew their malicious motives in their hearts. Jesus told them a story.
There was a man with two sons. They played together, laughed together, ate together, and even worked together in their father’s farm. They were so close to each other. Each told that the best friend was his brother while pointing at his own brother standing right next. However, as they are growing and aging, the older brother was having more responsibility, while the younger one getting less. The younger one started realizing that he was different from his older brother, and he began distancing from the older one. The fun that they used to have together was no more. The younger brother got to a point that he decided to leave in order to be independent from his older brother.
Then the younger son came to his father, and told,
‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ (Luke 16:22p)
The father truly concerned. He spent a day to think about what he had to do. He saw recently his younger son’s face was getting darker while losing his bright smile that he always had. Thus, his father decided to accept his younger son’s request to cheer up his younger son. So he divided his wealth between two sons, and gave to the younger son. The father was able to see again a big smile on the younger son’s face. This brought a big comfort to him. He thought that his younger son would be happy again and work together with him as well as his older brother.
His father’s expectation was wrong. A few days later the younger son packed all his belongings and moved out of the father’s house. His father realized that from the beginning, his younger son had no intention to live together. This made his father sad, and his father’s heart was breaking. His father, realizing his younger son’s departure, ran into his younger son’s room. It was swept clean, and no single message was left in the room for his father. His father sat down his younger son’s desk for a long time while missing his younger son, but his younger son was no more with him. He felt one part of his heart was lost forever. He slowly rose up, and walked out of his younger son’s room by taking off his heavy feet that was almost glued to his son’s room. His eyes were filled with tears for his own son left him.
The younger son moved to a distant land. He had lots of money, and he could do anything that he wanted. First, he rented the best place near the town center, where there were non-stopping funs. He visited a local bar. Then he bought drinks for all who were in the bar. All were so happy because of the free drinks. All suddenly became the younger son’s best friends. He used to be always the second or barely noticed even by the servants of his father’s house. Now, he was treated like a king. Everybody loved him. Then the next day, he went back to the same bar. He found the same people, and he bought drinks for all of them again. They all shouted for joy and praised his name. He was the star of the night in the bar. All were singing for him, and he was so happy. Finally, he found a heaven, where he always be welcome and praised. He came back the same bar on the following day. On that day, again, he was treated like a king. The fun did not stop. All were so happy because all drinks were free by the younger son. All of those days were like a dream for the younger son. His fun did continue. More and more joined the fun. This made the fun even bigger everyday also. There he wasted all his money in wild living.
Finally, his money almost ran out. He could no longer go to the bar and buy drinks. The people used to sing for and praise him were falling away from him very quickly. Soon he became alone. Nobody came to him because he could not buy free drinks any more. He suddenly felt coldness from those who used to like him. It was very hard for him because he had never experienced such coldness, which hurt him a lot. But he could still buy some food with the small amount of money still left.
Then a great famine swept over the land. Prices of food went up so quickly and so high, he could no longer afford to buy food. He began to starve. He visited those who had fun with him at the bar, but nobody helped him. Some of them even did not answer the door when he knocked. He felt miserable, but he had to find a way to feed him to survive. Finally, he could persuade a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs out of the town. The younger brother became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. For the farmer, the pigs were more important than the younger brother. He begged, but
no one gave him anything. (Luke 15:16b)
He had to sleep with his empty stomach. His sleep was so shallow. He frequently got up through each night. He did everything to go back to sleep, but it was really difficult. Whenever he closed his eyes, he could see his father’s house filled with all good things: food, joy, fun and especially his own father. However, he could not go back to home because of what he did to his father. He finally realized how much he hurt his father’s heart. He struggled and struggled through the night.
One night, a full moon rose, and it was so bright that he could see everything around him. He looked up the full moon, and he could see his father’s face in the moon. His eyes were filled with tears. Suddenly, he came to his senses, and he said to himself,
‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ (Luke 15:17b-19)
Then he got up and left the pig farm. He started walking toward his father house. He kept walking. He could see like a movie what he had done and what had happened to him after he left his father’s house. He clearly saw how badly he behaved. Especially, how bad son he was to his father! His returning feet were heavy and his heart was convicted. He was crying all the way. The journey to home was much longer than the one that he took when he left his father’s house. At that time, he was in confidence and in joy, but now he had nothing but one small hope that his father might accept him as one of his servants because his sin against his father was so great.
His father was totally opposite from what the younger son thought. His father was always looking out the window in the direction where his younger son left. His father waited for his younger son’s return from the first day that his younger son left his house. It was a daily task for his father to look out the direction so that he might see his younger son coming back home as soon as possible. His father always waited, but the younger son did not come back. The father’s heart was breaking daily for losing his own son. His heart was filled with sorrow, but he did not lose his hope to see his son again. Only was the hope making him going. He never had forgotten of looking out to spot his son’s return.
One day, the father could see far off a young man looking like his younger son, but the young man looked quite different. His younger son was a fun person with lots of smile on his face, but the young man that he saw with darkness in face. Even so, he looked carefully while there was distance, and the father recognized the young man was his own son. He ran out with joy, and loudly calling his name with two arms raised high.
The younger son saw his father was running out of the house with open arms. As soon as he saw his father, his eyes were filled with tears. He could not hold of his emotion. In tears, he cried out his father’s name also.
Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. (Luke 16:20b)
His father quickly ran into him, hugged and kissed him so lovingly. Since he left his father’s house, he had never had such a loving hug of that of his father. He thought that he was surrounded by those who loved him in the distance land, but it was not a true love. They just came to him because of his money. Their love was on his money, not him. His father’s loving hug was completely different. His father’s love was genuine and unconditional, he found. His father, in deed, had never changed. He realized that his father was always waiting for his return while looking out his window toward the direction that he left. This made him more regrettable what he did, and he wholeheartedly asked his father’s forgiveness.
‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. (Luke 16:21b)
His father was more than happy to forgive him, because his father truly loved him unconditionally. His father flat rejected his offer to be his father’s servant, because his sonship had never changed to his father’s eyes. Then his father called the master of his servants, and told
‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ (Luke 16:22b-24)
The master of the servants had never heard such a joyful voice since his younger son left home. The master servant always found him in sorrow and heart pain due to the loss of his younger son. The master servant quickly called other servants, and prepared what was told by the father. The servants brought the finest robe, put it on the younger son. A gold ring and a best quality sandals were brought out to the younger son. Then the best feat was prepared. Per the father’s request, the servant master invited the father’s friends to the feast. The house was filled with guests and the finest feast. All were in joy, singing and dancing.
The younger son could not believe his eyes, as he was looking at what’s happening. His painful past was no more. It was melting quickly away along with the joyful noise of singing and dancing filling the room. He looked at his father’s face. His father’s face could not be happier. “Why did I not choose to return to home quicker?” He talked to himself softly so that only he could hear what he was talking. It was not a dream. He was in the middle of the father’s house with his father, who loved him always and unconditionally.
Yes, like the father in the story, Our Heavenly Father always waits for us with His unconditional love. No matter how badly we have behaved and sinned against God, God forgives us when we return to him and ask His forgiveness like the younger son. The younger son even asked his father to treat him as his servant because he was not worthy of being called as his father’s son any more. But his father did not say even one single word about the younger son’s request. Instead his father spoke about his extreme joy of his son’s return. For his father, the sonship was not determined by his son’s worthiness, but by his father’s unfailing love toward his own son, which is one-sided and unconditional. Yes, Our Heavenly Father does not measure our worthiness and make a decision whether he would love us or not. Not at all, Our God unconditionally loves us because of only one reason that we are His children. How assuring! Yes, this is our eternal assurance from God, Our Ever-Loving Father, and our hope and faith on earth.
Then how can we so sure about this eternal assurance? The answer is Jesus Christ. God gave His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, and sacrificed Him on cross to forgive all our sins. Thus, whoever comes to God while asking His forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ by believing this amazing Good News will be forgiven and receive eternal life. This is the truth that will never change. Additionally, there is an even more amazing truth — God will not forgive us grungily but with joy like the father in the above story. Yes, God is delight in us always, and God unconditionally loves us. Why? Because we are His children!
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:19)