The Love of the Running Father

by Rev Robert A Wendel

“While the son was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.  Whoever does not love does not know God for God is Love.”  (Luke 15:11-32; I John 4:8 NRSV).

In Sunday School and again during seven semesters of seminary, I was taught that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning, teaching a principle to be put into practice.  In the Jewish culture of olden days, things were explained in word pictures.  Jesus was speaking a language that his neighbors could easily understand.  Despite changes in culture, time and technology, parables remain timeless reflections of the human condition.

The first century Jewish culture was a honor/shame drive society.  Nearly everything that was done sought honor and avoided shame.  A central message of all three parables; the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son is that God has a tender personal concern and a joyous love for individuals who are lost in sin and repent.  The last of this trio of progressive value parables deals with the relationship between a father and his younger and older sons, one a rule-breaker and the other a rule-keeper. (Luke 15:11-32).

In those days a Middle Eastern man never ran.  If he wanted to run, he would have to lift his robes so he would not fall.   It was humiliating and shameful for him to show his bare legs.  So why did he run?  If a Jewish son lost his inheritance among Gentiles, he would be totally cut off from his community as if he were dead.  The father ran to protect his son from this total rejection – a kezazah.  So instead, took the shame rightly due his younger son.

We long for a love that can’t be forgotten.  Our Heavenly Father put our shame upon his Son Jesus so that we can be forgiven, restored, accepted and gifted with a clean slate.  God calls us and waits for us or our lost acquaintances, to begin the journey back toward Him.  Willingly, God is watching, ready to welcome us back (I John 4:8).

Our next ABC Men’s Breakfast will be at 8:00 am on Sat. Sept. 10th.  Join us and invite a friend. During the summer months food supplies at Helping Hands are low.  Help those in need.