LUKE 15 DOESN’T just crystallize the message of the gospel—that Jesus came to seek and save the lost—it also offers some guidance for how we might follow in His steps. In the wonderful parable of the prodigal son (vv. 11-32), the third and greatest of the finder stories in the chapter—which, incidentally, illustrates that there are different ways of being “lost”—we see four things about the waiting father that can help us.
He was observant. The prodigal was “still a long way off” (v. 20) when his dad spotted him. The father was looking to the horizon, not down at his feet. How easy it is to get caught up in our own world, right? Many of us have the tendency to go through each day as though we are the star of our own movie, and everyone else has a supporting role. And if they all hit their marks and says what they are supposed to, things will go well!
So often we go through life with blinders on. But what if we looked up, to the distance and to the edges? Maybe we would notice people moving towards us who need a welcome.
He was expectant. Okay, this isn’t explicit from the text, but it seems to be a fair assumption that the father prayed for his wayward, wandering son. I suspect that he looked to the skyline every morning, wondering, Is this the day that my boy might come home? Are you praying for God to draw people back, anticipating He will answer?
He was prepared. Jewish families of the day usually had a calf they were preparing for a religious or community celebration. Hence the father’s instruction to the servant to go and bring the fattened calf (v. 23). He was ready to party! Are you poised to respond when an opportunity arrives at your door?
He was invested. Having the calf in the fattening pen was a sacrifice of time and money, He didn’t just think it would be nice to be able to celebrate—he devoted time and money to making it happen. Are you prepared to reach into your pocket or make time in your calendar, should the opportunity arise to serve someone who has been lost? Will you do what it costs?