Over the past several weeks we have been working through a sermon series called Parenthood.
For those who are parents, have parents or been around parents, you know parenting is a tough job. It’s a job full of joys and disappointments.
One of the best stories in the Bible that illustrates the ups and downs of parenting is the story of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15:11-32.
Jesus tell us a powerful story about a son who demands his share of the inheritance from his father. The father complies and the son leaves home, breaking his father’s heart in the process.
We hear that the son squanders away his fortune and before long finds himself destitute in a foreign land. The young man decides to return to his father’s house with the hope of working as a servant.
The next part of the story is what I love. Scripture tells us the father recognizes his son from a distance and starts running towards him.
It may not seem like a big deal as we read it today but for the early hearers of Jesus’ story this act would have been extraordinary.
It was considered extremely undignified for a Middle Eastern man to run anywhere, particularly when having to hike up his robe and expose his legs. This alone would have been considereddisgraceful. But that wasn’t the worst of it.
Culturally, for a young Jewish man to lose his family’s inheritance in a foreign land would have been considered unforgivable. There was actually a Jewish custom called Kezazah, which literally means “the cutting off”. This was a ceremony whereby the individual would be brought to justice and disowned before their community and family. By this action the individual was actually considered dead to them all.
But even with his broken heart, this father was watching and hoping for his son’s return. The father knew that as soon as the people of thecommunity saw his son, they would shame him and cut him off. So, the father did what no first-century Middle Eastern man would do: he hiked up his robe and ran.
Author Sheri Gragg describes the running Father this way:
“He ran through the village streets as his neighbours stared in horror. He ran as young boys began running along behind, shouting and mocking him in his shame. He ran ahead of the crowd as they moved toward his guilty, filthy son. He ran ahead of all that was reasonable and fair. He ran ahead of justice, taking his boy’s shame upon himself.
When he reached the boy, the father quickly gathered his son into his arms, kissed him on each cheek and called for a banquet in his honour. This, Jesus tells us, is what God is like.”
God the Father.
Your Heavenly Father and mine runs toward you with arms open wide. What are you doing?
We are in full swing getting ready for Amberlea's Summer Camp (VBC) which begins Monday, July 10 and runs through to July 14th. Please keep our little campers and our camp staff in your prayers.
Join us this Sunday as we conclude our series entitled Parenthood. It will be a great morning full of surprises. Come join us and be sure to bring a friend.