“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 ESV
The lost have been found.
This is not a passive finding, such as, where you reach down into your old jacket pocket and surprisingly pull out a $5 bill; this is an intentional seeking. Think of a time when you are running frantically late to an appointment and can’t find your keys anywhere. You begin running around, turning over your home, until that joyous moment when you finally find them. This may be a simple example, but I believe it gives some level of understanding to the earnestness of Christ as He seeks to save the lost.
Our King is both earnestly seeking us and patiently waiting for us.
At the beginning of this story, the son is a man full of pride, who desires only that of what he thinks he deserves. He ends up taking his father’s money and runs. He runs to the world, a world of indulgence, instant gratification, and perceived belonging. He begins “living his best life”, until eventually it all runs out. He drains his bank account, the people he thought he belonged to were quick to abandon him, and he now begins living his worst nightmare, where the only job he could find was feeding pigs, and starving to the point he desired to eat with them. In his greatest moment of depravity, the son remembers his father. The home he left in great pride and wealth is the same home he finally returns to with great humility and poverty, to the point of even becoming a servant. But while he is still far off the father sees him (which we can assume means the father was eagerly watching for his son to return), and he runs to the son, embracing, forgiving, clothing and celebrating him. (more in Luke 15)
The forgiving father and his character remain constant throughout this story and are ultimately a reflection of God. In telling the story, Jesus identifies Himself with God in His merciful attitude to the lost. If you’ve ever wanted and chose the pleasures of the world over Christ, then you can put yourself in the shoes of the prodigal son. In great sadness, God allows his children to choose the world and forces none to stay. In pride, we may think the world has more happiness and freedom to offer, but we will quickly become enslaved to what we initially thought as freedom, a slave to our flesh and sinful desires. But in the patient enduring, our God is faithful, eagerly waiting for His children to return. He desires to lift up the humble, clothe the poor, and welcome the orphan. He waits eagerly for the return of the sons and daughters, to return in humility, and will never fail to run to them with all joy and gladness.
We don’t worship a God who merely holds open the door of heaven, but who left heaven behind, running to us and embracing us with all grace and mercy, to walk beside us on our way home.
In the same thought where the prodigal’s father announces that his son was dead and is now alive, he states that his son was lost and is now found. To be lost is spiritual death, and to be found is life everlasting. It is important to note that the father says “is found” and not “found his way.” Christ is the pursuer, the first mover in our relationship with him. We cannot find our way into heaven by our own power. Christ must be the one to find us in our lostness.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
We have a father who runs to us while we are still far off and greets us with a warm embrace, and we have a friend in Christ who stays by us even when we are plundering the good gifts of God for our selfish gain. Christ died on the cross not merely because people were coming home, but because His children had run away and, in His great mercy, chose to humble himself by subjecting himself to a cross so that we may see our need for Him and return to the home we belong. Ultimately, we don’t worship a God who merely holds open the door of heaven, but who left heaven behind, running to us and embracing us with all grace and mercy, to walk beside us on our way home.