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December 5, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”—Luke 15:20 (ESV)
Continuing our look at the Parable of the Lost Son, over the next two days we’re going to step into the shoes of a devastated dad and see what happens when his son returns. We’ll examine a few key characteristics at play in the father’s response.
The first thing we see is that the father was unconcerned with public opinion. In that culture, a situation like this would have called for a harsh response on the part of the father. There was really no way around it. The son had sinned against the father in an irreversible way. As far as the people were concerned, the son may as well have been dead, because his place in the family was gone forever. But this dad cared nothing for the opinions of the people or what was expected of him by those in the world; all he cared about was the return of his son.
And the same thing is true of our heavenly Father. Just remember why Jesus was telling this parable in the first place, because the Pharisees were complaining about Him hanging out with sinners. The thought of God hanging with these people was scandalous. But God is completely unconcerned with public opinion. He loves us, and when we come to Him, He accepts and adopts us, regardless of who we are and what we’ve done.
This is something we really need to learn in our own lives. We need to stop looking at the people around us through the lens of judgment and legalism and start seeing them with the same eyes as the Lord sees them. Which leads us to our second characteristic: He was consumed with compassion.
Look at verse 20 again: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion.” The Greek word for compassion here means “to feel deep in the gut of your soul, to be moved with intense pity.” Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus being moved with compassion for people. He was gripped by it. This was the point of the parable: Jesus came for the lost and there is great celebration when the lost are found. And just like the father in the story, just like our Savior, we need to be people whose hearts drip with compassion for those who are still a long way off from Him.
I want to leave you today with this quote from Great American Bible scholar Francis Shaeffer: “Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world. Oh, that the love of Christ will compel us.”
DIG: What do these two characteristics tell about God the Father?
DISCOVER: How can we apply and exhibit these characteristics in our lives today?
DO: Ask the Lord to show you someone who needs the compassion and deep love of God to be demonstrated to them. Intentionally spend time pouring into them.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.