Sunday Devotion: 31 March, Fourth Sunday in Lent

Sunday Devotions

The compassionate God

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Main readings: Joshua 5.2-12, Ps 32, 2 Corinthians 4.16-21, Luke 15.11-32

Supplementary readings: Ps 124, Galatians 4.21-28, Genesis 22.1-14, Ps 125, Luke 23.1-25

“for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” (Luke 15.24)

Some years ago, medical student James Scott was lost in the Himalayas when he was overtaken by an early blizzard and took shelter in a cave. After about a week, local searchers thought he could not survive and a family member organised another search. Miraculously after 43 days, James was found alive and one can only imagine his family’s joy – a great celebration!

The lost prodigal son was spiritually dead. He had demanded his inheritance before his father had died – a cultural taboo – had left home and squandered his money, becoming destitute. When he ‘came to himself’, repented and returned home, his father, joyous, ran out to meet him, put his arms around him and kissed him. He was going to ask his father to take him back as a hired servant and before he could do that, his father welcomed him as a son, with the ring, robe and fatted calf pertaining to sonship – a great celebration!

‘The lost son’ is not the most appropriate title for this parable. The parables Jesus told had a significant ‘twist’ – one aspect that would not seem to be culturally believable. What stands out in this parable is the father’s ‘over the top’ welcome – running out and showing excessive emotion.

In portraying the father as unbelievable, Jesus is revealing something of the nature of God – one who is infinitely welcoming and compassionate.

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