Radical Love - Luke 15:20-24
“RADICAL” Love - Radical from 14th century Latin, Radicalis. Literally means “from the root.” What we see here in the story of the Father’s RADICAL love, is the very root of compassion, the very basis of mercy and grace. Yes, it’s extreme. Yes, it’s excessive. But even more important, it’s the very root of love, compassion, mercy and grace. God the Father’s RADICAL love…
R - ____________________
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him... v.20
The picture of our heavenly father looking for us, waiting for us. Wondering if today might be the day that his son/daughter might be coming home. Son could not surprise by showing up at door. No need to knock. Same way God Father looking, waiting, knows your heart.
... and felt compassion... v. 20
No need to hesitate over repentance. No fear of rejection. No fear of absence! Some have this image of God just waiting to catch us in a mistake, who delights in their failure, a God waiting to “zap” them. Not so... we have a God who felt compassion. Others have this image of God as pure being, rational, logical, orderly, without emotion. Not so! And he FELT... We have a Father God who has boundless emotions!
A - __________________________
... and ran and embraced him and kissed him. v. 20.
Against social protocol for older man to run. He must pull up his skirt.
Breach of elderly Jewish man’s dignity to run. God is not concerned about how He will look.
Not only not embarrassed to be with you, but can’t wait to be with you! Wants to show you affection! No matter the rags or the stench!
D - ________________________
“Threw his arms around him.” “Hugged him” “Embraced him.”
Most literal - “Fell on his neck and kissed him.” Hebraic expression. Ran to protect him. The son had brought disgrace to the family AND the village. According to Deut. 21:18-21, he should have been stoned to death. Father throws himself around son to protect him. In same way it is ONLY GOD who can protect us from what we deserve - Mercy
I - __________________________________
And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said... v.21
Son did verbalize his repentance. Formal, rehearsed speech. Likewise, it is important we say the words. Connection between feelings and intentions. Commitment. Covenant. Promise. Should not rest upon, “Well God knows how I feel. He knows my heart. Don’t need to say anything.”
Father cut him off from rehearsed speech. Son didn’t finish. Compare v.21 and v. 18-19. Never got to “Treat me as one of your hired servants.” Why? Because Father DID know son’s heart. It’s NEVER just the words. Jesus told us over and over again that HEART MATTERS.
C - ___________________________________
But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him... v.22
We can’t fully understand this verse unless we view it in the absence of “Treat me as one of your hired servants.” Almost as if Father knew what son was going to say and responded in love to show that relationship would never be other than father/son. the best robe - whose would be the best robe in the home? The father’s own. Not robe left behind. Not the robe of servant. Not the rags of slave. Not even the robe of guest. But the best robe in the house. A visual to everyone else about the Father’s acceptance and protection.
... and put a ring on his hand ... v. 22
The ring was the sign of sonship and wealth and authority. Pharoah’s signet ring to Joseph Gen. 41:42; Sign of wealth James 2:2; Sign of belonging. The symbol of the family - son of the father.
... and shoes on his feet. v. 22
Slaves don’t wear shoes. Not a hired servant!
A - __________________________
Do you begin to get the picture of relationship that God has in mind for you? The love, the belonging, the family you have always wanted, but dared never hope for because of fear of disappointment - This is the Father God who loves us! He desires that we be secure in his love.
What the son demanded (and we selfishly) was to be GIVEN his share. But now MAKE me your servant (humility) God responds by giving everything he could have ever wanted. The issue, therefore, is NOT GOD’S WILLINGNESS, but our ATTITUDE.
And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.... And they began to celebrate. v. 23-24
Not just any celebration. Ancient Palestinians not meat eaters. Reserved for very special festivals. The calf was being fed for just such an occasion. The fattened calf would be enough to feed the entire village, not just family. Suddenly everything else, all other celebrations were made secondary to the lost son coming home. This is the delight of your heavenly father when you come home!
L - _______________________________
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. v24
We are tempted to allow God to only love us up to the extent that we love ourselves - as if there is a maximum that is defined by our self-love. But God loves us more than we love ourselves. Our love is messed up. Even when we want to love ourselves well, we mess up. And many of us have been so messed up by the broken love of others - including parents and broken relationships.
Today let us revel in this root compassion of our Abba Father as sinners saved by grace, as the LOST but found, as the once dead, but now alive.