‘…I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:18-20 NIV
God is in the business of reconciliation. In this week’s text Jesus uses a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son to illustrate God’s desire to reconcile, to bring back, to restore, to save, to heal, and to redeem us. God’s compassion toward his people is a major theme all throughout Scripture. In Luke 15:18 the lost son acknowledges his sin to God, and plans to ask his father for forgiveness as well. The psalmist similarly declares, “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,” Psalm 103:3-4.
In Mark 6:34, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” In other places Jesus showed compassion through healing. “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick,” Matthew 14:14. In the Bible the word “saved” often can be translated as “healed.” Jesus is interested in our spiritual health as well as our physical health. In Luke 19: 10 Jesus states this as his purpose, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” God longs to show me compassion, but if I need to confess my sin, as the lost son needed to, then I first need to make myself right before God, and then I will be able to experience his unfailing love.
The father in Luke 15 is quick to forgive, to show compassion, and to value both of his sons. God is the same. I know I often need to be reminded that God values me, forgives me and has compassion on me. It is comforting to me to know that if I am honest with God, confess my sin, he will forgive me and welcome me back into fellowship with him. Isaiah 54:10 is very reassuring, “ ‘…Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Are you in need of God’s restoring compassion today?
By Grace Hunter