Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Twenty, Thursday

In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Luke 15: 11-32

Once described as the” forever parable” because it never runs out of deep meaning, the parable of the lost son is filled with eternal significance. The story is about a man who had two sons. The younger son came to the father requesting his share of the estate. So the father divided his property between them. The younger son took off for a distant land, where he squandered his full inheritance on wild living. When a severe famine came to that country he began to be in need. So, he hired himself out to a person who sent him to feed pigs.  His stomach was aching for food, and he became desperate.

When he came to his senses, he realized the stupidity of his ways. He set out to go back home to his father and admit his sin, relinquish his status as his son, and offer himself as one of his dad’s hired hands. But, while he was still a long way from home, his father saw him on route and because he was filled with compassion he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Rejoicing greatly, the father called his servants to come with the best robe, a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. They killed the fattened calf, had a feast and celebrated his homecoming.

Meanwhile, the older son was working in the field. When he caught wind of what had transpired, he was livid. The sound of music and dancing made him enraged and he refused to participate in the party. He told his father how disappointed he was in the treatment of his once lost brother, now safe at home. The father reminded the elder son of his forever presence with him, the safe protection of his inheritance, and pleaded with him to celebrate and be glad that his brother was home.

In this parable Jesus is emphasizing the gift of forgiving grace. The emphasis is on the extravagant, prodigal love the Father has for both of his sons, the wayward and the righteous. The portrayal of the father running to greet the lost son is a powerful image of the initiation of God. He’s got his eyes peeled on us 24/7, never turning or walking away. Whether bidden or not bidden, he is always present.  He stands on the porch of heaven and traverses the landscape watching, waiting and wondering when the lost will come to his senses and turn back home.

The reality of God the initiator is a life-changer. When we come to our senses and turn back home to our heavenly Father we can ALWAYS count on his outstretched arm s of love to greet us. Always. The Triune God has an infatuation for us that never stops, never ends, never stalls, never fails. He awaits our glance homeward and then he outraces us with gifts of grace, forgiveness, and peace. Behold Jesus locking eyes with yours; believe you are deserving of his unconditional love; belong to the fellowship of the strident wayward and the penitent homeward; and become a lover to the lost in Jesus name.

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