His father saw him and was filled with compassion for him. Luke 15:20
Robert was embarrassed when he showed up for a breakfast meeting and realized he’d forgotten his wallet. It bothered him to the point that he pondered whether he should eat at all or simply get something to drink. After some convincing from his friend, he relaxed his resistance. He and his friend enjoyed their entrees, and his friend gladly paid the bill.
Perhaps you can identify with this dilemma or some other situation that puts you on the receiving end. Wanting to pay our own way is normal, but there are occasions when we must humbly receive what’s graciously being given.
Some kind of payback may have been what the younger son had in mind in Luke 15:17–24 as he contemplated what he would say to his father. “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants” (v. 19). Hired servant? His father would have no such thing! In his father’s eyes, he was a much-loved son who’d come home. As such he was met with a father’s embrace and an affectionate kiss (v. 20). What a grand gospel picture! It reminds us that by Jesus’ death He revealed a loving Father who welcomes empty-handed children with open arms. One hymn writer expressed it like this: “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.”
How does it make you feel that because Jesus has paid your sin debt, you can receive forgiveness for all your sins? If you’ve never received this forgiveness, what’s keeping you from accepting this gift through Jesus?
God of heaven, help me to receive and enjoy the forgiveness You’ve provided through Your Son, Jesus.
The word compassion in Luke 15:20 comes from the Greek verb splanchnízomai. The noun form of this word refers to “bowels or intestines.” Generally speaking, it refers to the internal organs, such as the heart, lungs, and liver. It’s the word used in Acts 1:18 to speak of Judas’ demise: “all his intestines spilled out.”
While ancient Greek poets saw the “bowels” as the seat of more violent emotions, the Hebrews saw them as the place for affections such as kindness and compassion. When the verb is used in the New Testament, it refers to internal feelings of pity that result in external acts of benevolence. In the Gospels, the compassion of Jesus compelled Him to heal the sick (Matthew 14:14) and feed the multitude (15:32). In Luke 15:20, compassion motivated the father to welcome his son: “[He] was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”