“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. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'”
The story takes another unexpected turn. Jesus gives us a glimpse of God’s heart.
The father is impatient and undignified in his desire for his son. He has been waiting a long time, who knows how long, refusing to believe his son was not coming back. So when he sees him, he runs to him.
Now we’ve all seen plenty of movies in which two people who have been separated are reunited. And it’s usually the same scene: At first they don’t see each other, then there’s the double-take and recognition, followed by a look of glorious shock, and finally they drop everything and run in slow motion into each other’s arms.
When we read that the father runs to his son, in our minds it’s the natural thing to do. We probably don’t realize how undignified the father is making himself. Running is not something a man of his stature would do. It would showcase his legs, which in that culture was one of the most humiliating things you could do to yourself.
This probably caused another gasp from Jesus’ listeners, these highly respected, sophisticated, proper gentlemen.
Isn’t it amazing what this says about God? He is not concerned about His reputation. He is willing to embrace humiliation if it means He can embrace us as well.
Isn’t that the message of the cross? That God would die in the most vile of ways, alongside common criminals, being spat upon and cursed, and He is not bothered to stand up for Himself. He embraced the cross, because He knew doing so meant He could embrace you and me.
He is impatient and undignified in his love for us, so why do we hesitate to return to Him?