This son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.
Rembrandt’s painting The Return of the Prodigal Son often moves people to awe. Viewers crowd around the wall in the museum where this massive painting hangs, marveling at the solemn beauty of the father receiving his wayward son.
But as remarkable as Rembrandt’s scene of reconciliation is, the father’s reception of his son in the parable is even more striking. Even before the son reaches home, the father is watching and waiting. Then, when he sees his son approaching, the dignified head of the household gathers up his robes and dashes out to greet his missing child with hugs and kisses. For Jesus’ audience, a father’s tossing aside all dignity would have been shocking.
The parable of the lost son completes a series of three stories showing God’s boundless love and mercy for sinners. The first tells about rescuing a lost sheep, and the second tells of finding a lost coin. And in this third parable we meet a father who with urgency and joy runs out to meet his wayward child, who was dead and is now alive, was lost and now is found.
Like the prodigal son, we have all rejected and dishonored our Father. We have squandered our inheritance of being made in his image. Foolishly, we would rather wallow in mud than revel in his embrace. But in grace and mercy the Father comes to us! So let’s live with and for him from now on.
When we were lost and dead in our sins, Father, you came to us. Now let us live for you, sharing your love and mercy in a desperate world. Amen.
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