3-3-16 - Home Comes to Us

When I was young I was enthralled with the movie Love Story, with its famous tagline, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” That kind of statement can pretty much only be made after someone’s just said, “I’m sorry…” I’d be more likely to say, “Love means always having to say you’re sorry,” by which I mean we need always be aware of the ways in which we hurt or fail to notice our loved ones’ feelings. Learning to say you’re sorry quickly and naturally is one of the building blocks of a healthy relationship.

But working up to “I’m sorry” is often a struggle. Once we’ve wrestled away our self-justifications and acknowledged the need, we often find ourselves rehearsing, trying to find the right words. That’s exactly what the young man in Jesus’ story does: writes his speech ahead of time.

“I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.’” So he set off and went to his father.

When we head off to ask forgiveness of another person, we can never be sure of the reception we’ll get. This young man, who’d in effect disowned his father, probably caused him to liquidate assets at a loss, may have assumed his father had disowned him. When we offer repentance, we have to simply offer it, and be willing to lay it down and walk away. We can’t compel forgiveness or even a hearing.

Ah, but Jesus tells us that it’s different with God. If this story is a picture of what the realm of God is like, we should take notice of what happens next: forgiveness doesn’t wait for this young man to express his sorrow. Forgiveness is out in the road, waiting for him.  But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.

The son tries to make his speech, but his father is way ahead of him: But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!”

Was the father looking down that road every day, hoping against hope to see his son return? Did he even care if the boy was sorry, or did he only want to be reunited with his beloved? Does God really love us that much?

Jesus said “yes.” Jesus showed us “yes,” just how much God loves us. Jesus left Home and came into our road to wait for us. We don’t even have to get home – Home comes to us, with royal robes and sandals for our tired feet. This is one “I’m sorry” for which we don’t have to doubt the reception.

We only need to turn ourselves toward home.

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