Lord, bring the prodigal sons back to thee. Amen.
Luke 15. 17-24. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say unto him, Father, 1 have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Worldly-minded men are not “themselves”; they sleep and dream. When the Son of God conquers the heart, and rouses it out of the sleep of sin, man “comes to himself.” Then he sees that he is far away from God, and feels that he is wretched; and if he be a fallen Christian, he thinks with pain of his former happiness, and longs to return to the Father’s house. Here we note especially two things: 1) He who wakes up, and repents, will acknowledge his sin before the Lord, and his unworthiness to be called a child of God. 2) He will arise, and go to his Father, humble himself, and confess his sin. Without these two things there can be no true conversion. A man may feel the unhappiness of sin, and yet not humble himself before God; or he may see that he is far away, and yet not return to the Father.
However, the principle lesson which the Lord Jesus wishes to teach us in this text is, that God receives the penitent sinner with open heart and arms, pardons him, and with all the heavenly host rejoices over the return of the child that was lost. While you are yet a great way off, he sees you; he has long been waiting for you, and looking down the road in hopes of your return. And now he has tender compassion, and makes haste to meet you; his desire to pardon you is infinitely greater than your desire to come and receive his forgiveness. Even before you have had time to make your confession, he has pardoned you, and forgotten your disobedience. And now, as you in deep humility speak with your Father, confessing your guilt and asking his forgiveness, he causes you to be clothed with the perfect righteousness of Christ, gives you the pledge of the Holy Spirit that you are his son and heir, and gives you grace to guard your feet, or to lead a saintly life, and increase in holiness even in the midst of sin and temptation. All this he gives you through the prophets and apostles, who have brought us the word and the sacraments from the Lord; and through his ministers, who in every age preach the gospel. For faith is created by means of the word; it is only through the means of grace in the church that the Spirit performs his office for the justification, regeneration, and sanctification of sinners. This is life from the dead. There is no greater change than this. Have you experienced it? Have you known the mercy and grace of the Father? Is your soul a living one in God? Do you have your home with him? Do not stay away; come, and throw yourself into the arms of the Father!
Heavenly Father, most merciful God, draw to thee them that are far off, and keep with thee all them that have been found. Amen.
Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you.
Full of pity, love, and power;
He is able, He is willing: doubt no more.