God’s forgiveness is easy

This week’s blog is about forgiveness.

Let’s look at the passage about the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32:

There was once a rich man who had two sons. The younger son went to his father and asked for his share of his inheritance so his father gave him his half of the estate.

The younger son went to a country far away from home and partied his wealth away, spending it all on women and wine. Then disaster struck. There was a famine in the country he was in and since he had spent all his money, he began to be in need. Desperate to fill his hungry stomach, he took a job feeding pigs. Now pigs are considered to be unclean animals for the Jews, so for the younger son to be feeding pigs showed how desperate he was, how low he had sunk from being a wealthy playboy.  He was in such a bad state that he even envied the unclean pigs – at least the pigs had pods to eat, while he was starving. The younger son remembered how well his father treated his servants, giving them ample delicious food to fill their bellies, so the young man decided to return to his father. He decided to beg his father to forgive him and say – “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.”

The young man embarked on the long journey back to his father. Now he didn’t know that his father spent his days sitting by the window, looking out for the younger son, waiting for his return. So even while the younger son far away from his home, his father spotted him in the distance. Filled with love for his son, he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

The father told his servants to bring the best robe in the house and dress the young son. He gave the son a ring and sandals as well. The father was so happy that he prepared a feast to celebrate the son’s return, slaughtering a fattened calf for him. The father rejoiced, saying – “This son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. The servants told him that his father had killed a fattened calf and was having a feast to celebrate his brother’s return.

When the older brother heard this, he was furious. The father went to the older brother and begged him to join the feast. But the older brother answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.  But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

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The thing that struck me when I last thought about this parable of the Prodigal Son was how easily the father forgave his son.

When we do something wrong, depending on who we have offended, we always worry that we have to do a lot to make up for our offence. And even if we have done a lot to apologize, we might have begged and pleaded for forgiveness and offered a great item for restitution, the person we offended might still not forgive us, depending on how merciful he/she is.

When we think about how holy God is, how He is perfect and sinless, and how much he hates sin, it would be logical to imagine that it would be very difficult for God to forgive us.  In Romans we are told that the wages of sin is death, and it’s easy to imagine God as an angry deity who zaps us with a giant thunderbolt, killing us as a punishment for our sins.

So the story of the Prodigal Son is a wonderful surprise, as it shows us how merciful God really is, how eager he is to forgive us, how forgiveness is easy for those who believe in Christ. Romans also tells us that the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, and through Christ, we have access to the easy forgiveness of God, as forgiveness is a great gift that comes through our faith in Christ.

The story of the Prodigal Son shows us how enthusiastic God is to forgive us. God is like the father in the parable – he is actively looking out for us to return and even when we are in the far distance, when he sees us, he runs like mad to greet us, to throw his arms around us and kiss us. God, like the father in the story, wants to forgive us, not grudgingly, but with great passion.

Some of us might be like the son. We feel that we have let God down when we sin, and that we don’t deserve to be treated like a son anymore. We think that if we go to God, we will have to face awful consequences.

But God, like the father in the story, rejoices when we repent and return to Him. Instead of punishing us (like we expect), he throws a party to celebrate our repentance! It’s so easy to gain God’s forgiveness. We don’t have to do anything other than to repent and return to God – he’s hungrily waiting for us to come back to him.

If you think that God is angry with you for your sins, then you may be tempted not to go to God because you fear his punishment. Your sins lead you to condemn yourself, and your guilt stops you from having a relationship with God. However, the story of the Prodigal Son shows you that you do not need to live with fear and condemnation. God longs to forgive you and to show you His compassion. If you’ll only repent and walk on that road back to God’s house, you’ll find love and forgiveness beyond your imagination – you’ll find that instead of punishment, you’ll get a party, as God celebrates your return with joy beyond belief.

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