Gabriel's Horn, Pastor George Weaver, June, 2015

posted Jun 1, 2015, 5:45 PM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Jun 1, 2015, 5:45 PM ]

Wide Open Arms

Of the four gospel writers in the New Testament I would have to say my favorite evangelist is Luke. I suppose if forced to choose a favorite chapter in the Bible, it would also be from Luke's Gospel account – namely Luke 15. The parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost boy/son are indeed unique and compelling and recorded only in the Gospel of Luke.

The drama in these parables is built on the tension of an attempt to find something that has been lost. Anyone who has lost or loses something on a regular basis can identify with this tension. Such things as car keys, reading glasses, or remote controls come readily to mind as objects frequently going AWOL. We all have experienced the frustration of having absent-mindedly misplaced or lost something, along with the relief that comes if and when the lost item is once again recovered.

In Luke 15 we get a profound look at the depth and breadth of God's mercy and grace, particularly in the case of the father of the lost son. We see there no reluctant forgiver, stingy and tightfisted with dispensing grace, but absolutely the total opposite. In this parable of the lost son, everything the father does from the moment he sees his son returning, and even before that as he watches over the horizon day after day for the son to return, is a clear sign of not only forgiveness, but also complete restoration.

The father interrupts his wayward son’s speech confessing his rebelliousness by saying, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.” All these things are signs of full restoration to the family. The returning son will not become a mere servant, a hired worker, or slave. He will live with the father as his son, with all of the inherent privileges of being part of the family. The son is warmly welcomed back to the family, not as a slave or a hired worker but as a fully restored son.

To be outside of God's family is to be lost and alone. But there is “Good News!” The guilt and shame of our childish rebellion and willful disobedience has been transferred to Jesus on the cross. He has provided a remedy to overcome our alienation, the way out for us, an answer to our dilemma. By his suffering and death for our sake, we are spared the sentence of death for our sin and offered forgiveness—full and free. When we receive Christ as our Savior, we become fully restored as children of God. Jesus was crucified with open arms because the Father’s arms are always wide open, waiting for us to come home. There's no better news imaginable than that.

George Weaver, Pastor of Maturing Ministries