Word of the Father, Now in Flesh Appearing
The story of the Prodigal Son is probably one that is familiar to most of us. The younger son leaves home with his father’s money to go to a far country to sow his wild oats. He gets himself into a pickle, loses all his money, and realizes how much better off he would be at home. But will his father accept him and forgive him? Will his father even be open to his return? What will the punishment be like?
Notice Rembrandt’s depiction of the return. There is not a hint of bitterness or punishment in the father. Only warmth. Only an embrace. Forgiveness.
Is there a Christmas story in there somewhere? A story of incarnation? A story of a Son leaving the comfort of the Father’s house to head to the far country to spend time in the pigpen? And what of the return? Though it is not one of rebellion, Jesus returns to the Father to bring with him all the lost children of God.
Henri Nouwen suggests that “Jesus is the prodigal son of the prodigal Father who gave away everything the Father had entrusted to him so that I could become like him and return with him to his Father’s house.”
During this Christmas season, I hope that message sinks in. We serve a God who left the comfort of eternity to step into ourpigpen to become one of us. So when we realize that we are broken, helpless, and have squandered everything away, we can trust that God knows our burdens because He was beaten, rejected, and humiliated. And He did it so that we can experience the embrace of the Father upon our return. The warm, compassionate, open, non-judgemental embrace of God who is with us.