By Dr. Ronnie Wolfe
Much is said, and much theology is entertained, about the prodigal son in Luke Chapter 15. This should be so in the main, but should we not also give some attention to the prodigal son's father? He is mentioned and made reference to in most sermons, but it seems to me that there is not enough emphasis given on him in most sermons. So in my thoughts today may we give a little more attention to him?
Notice, first, that he is the father of two boys, and these boys were of separate natures. One was a home body, an obedient and stable child of his father. The other son was a rebellious and wanton child with aspirations of grandeur and lofty and lively living.
As a result, the father was in a position in which he needed to deal with each son in a different way. One was much easier to train than the other. One needed little attention; the other needed much attention. Although most of us would censure the father's giving the prodigal his inheritance, we must realize that this father did just that.
Next we must realize that the father loved both of his sons. We might even name them Pride and Joy, since that is what they were to him. He was blessed, he knew, to have these two sons even though one was a rebel. Rebellion comes with a sinful nature, and we see rebellion in both sons by the end of this story. God has a very special love for all of his children (his sons). He loves them with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3).
The third thing we notice about the father is that he allowed each son to do according to his own will. He did not try to force the one son to go away, nor did he try to force his prodigal son to stay home. God in his mercy has given us a free will, and this free will is limited by our own sinful nature; so we are going to do as we please within the perimeters of our nature. We are all selfish in our own nature, so we should not judge that the son who stayed home was pure of evil thoughts. We see later in the story that he was not.
Then we learn in the story that the father, evidently (by implication) was continually awaiting his son's return. He knew that his son would return. His fast love for his son determined the conclusion of this story, and we read of our own case in 1 Peter 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. God's fast love for his people guarantees that they will all come to him, and he will not cast them out (John 6:37).
The father also received his son back from his wantonness. How loving is a father who, when confronted with the return of a rebellious and beaten-down son, wreaking of the world's love with evidence of the wear and tear of the world upon him, receive him back into the family? God does just that with sinners, who wreak of the world, are destitute of spiritual understanding, and are beaten down by sin. He receives us upon our return to him in repentance and faith.
Finally, we notice that the father accepts him, not as a hireling, but as a son. His love has not changed, and now the love is mutual. Our love for our Heavenly Father is based upon the concept that he received us unto himself despite our sin and weakness. Rom. 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
Several more things could be said, but the comments are becoming too lengthy.
Would you not love to have a Father like that?