And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran…
Having seen the younger son of this parable dissatisfied with his estate, having followed him into the far country of sin, having seen how there he frittered or flung everything away in his guilty folly and was reduced to utmost want and degradation, and having been with him in the hour of self-return and wise resolve, we now attend him on his way home to his father. We look at -
I. THE WISDOM OF IMMEDIATE ACTION. "He said, I will arise... and he arose. Most blessed said and done," as has been well remarked. What if he had lingered and given room for vain imaginations of things that would "turn up" on his behalf where he was, or for needless fears as to the reception he would have at home] How many more sons and daughters would there be now in the Father's home if all who said, "I will arise," had at once arisen, without parleying, without giving space for temptation and change of mind! Let there be no interval between saying and doing; let the hour of resolution to return be the hour of returning.
II. THE ABOUNDING GRACE OF HIS FATHER'S WELCOME.
1. He eagerly desired his son's return; he was looking out for it; when he was yet a great way off he saw him, and recognized him in all his rags and in all his shame.
2. He went forth to meet him; did not let his dignity stand in the way of his giving his son the very earliest assurance of his welcome home; he "put himself out," he "ran" to receive him back.
3. He welcomed him with every possible demonstration of parental love. He tenderly embraced him; he had him at once divested of his livery of shame and clad with the garments of self-respect and even honour; he ordered festivities to celebrate his return. As if he would say, "Take from him every sign and token of misery and want; remove every badge of servitude and disgrace; clothe him with all honour; enrich him with all gifts; ring the bells; spread the table; wreathe the garlands; make every possible demonstration of joy; we will have music in our hall to utter the melody in our hearts,' for this my son,' etc." It all means one thing; every stroke in the picture is intended to bring out this most precious truth - the warm and joyous welcome which every penitent spirit receives from the heavenly Father.
(1) We do not wonder at the misgivings of the guilty heart. It is natural enough that those who have long dwelt at a great distance from God should fear lest they should fail to find in God all the mercy and grace they need for full restoration.
(2) Therefore we bless God for the fulness of the promises made to us in his Word - promises made by the lips of the psalmist, of the prophet, and of his Son our Saviour.
(3) And therefore we thankfully accept this picture of the prodigal's return; for as we look at it and dwell upon it we gain a sense and a conviction, deeper than any verbal assurances can convey, of the readiness, the eagerness, the cordiality, the fulness, of the welcome with which the Father of our spirits takes back his erring but returning child. If any wandering one comes to us and says, "Will God receive me if I ask his mercy?" we reply, "Look at that picture, and decide; it is a picture drawn by the eternal Son to indicate what the eternal Father will do when any one of his sons comes back to him from the tar country of sin. Look there, and you will see that it is not enough to say, in reply to your question, 'He will not refuse you;' that is immeasurably short of the truth. It is not enough to say, 'He will forgive you;' that also is far short of the whole truth. That picture says, 'O children of men, who are seeking a place in the heart and the home of the heavenly Father, know this, that your Father's heart is yearning over you with a boundless and unquenchable affection, that he is far more anxious to enfold you in the arms of his mercy than you are to be thus embraced; he is not only willing, but waiting, ay, longing, to receive you to his side, to give you back all that you have lost, to reinstate you at once into his fatherly favour, to confer upon you all the dignity of sonship, to admit you to the full fellowship of his own family, to bestow upon you the pure and abiding joy of his own happy home.'" - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.