The boy who got what he didn’t deserve

This is the second part of the funeral message from Monday.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise 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 as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

__ wanted me to tell this story that Jesus told because a dad doesn’t quit loving his kid. Run away and a mom and dad still watch. Stomp out and a mom and dad still watch. Look at two doors and pick the wrong one–or the right one–and a dad and mom still watch.

And sometimes, as kids, we start to come back, wondering what will happen when we walk back in the door. And as parents, in our best moments, a mom and dad are watching from the window when a kids car slowly pulls up, jumping down the steps two at a time. At the door before the car gets stopped. Hugging before the first words of apology come out.

In our best moments.

But Jesus wasn’t just telling a Hallmark story. Remember that he was trying to explain why he intentionally spent time with the people at the edges of proper culture.

Jesus knew that there are lots of us who have been pretty obnoxious about making sure that everyone knows that we are good at running our lives. We’ve shunned our parents, walked away from anyone who tells us how we ought to do things. And we figured that God was part of all those rules, so we walked away from Him, too.

And we don’t want to tell anyone, including ourselves, but some of us are pretty scared that we went a little too far, that we’re all alone. Permanently. We are feeling pretty empty inside. Self-medicating isn’t working the way we wish it would. We’re like that young son, jealous of the pigs.

But, Jesus says, regardless of whether anyone else cares, there is a father that’s watching. And waiting, and celebrating at the least evidence of turning back.

Not to scold. Not to scream. Not to blame.

Just to welcome. And embrace us. And to teach us how to live a life forgiven of regrets.