Have you noticed that young kids run everywhere? Maybe it was just our kids, but when they were younger, they ran everywhere. It didn’t matter where we went. We would drive them to a friend’s house, and they’d get out of the car and run to the door. We’d go to church, and they would run into the building. We’d drop them off at practice and they would run to their team. It didn’t matter where we were at, who we were with or what we were doing, they ran everywhere at all times! They were so filled with joy that they couldn’t help it! Morgan, to this day, at 17 years of age still runs places. It’s awesome.

As we read Scripture, we get another picture of a person running. It’s not a young child. It’s an older man and it’s found in a story that Jesus told in earshot of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you know the really “religious” people. You see, Jesus was teaching and eating with tax collectors and other notorious sinners. Pause. Stop. I love those two words… “notorious sinners” and the fact that Jesus took time to reach even “those people.” Well, this made the really “religious” people angry. So, Jesus, knowing that the Pharisees and other religious teachers were actively complaining, told two quick stories and one longer story. Maybe you’ve heard of them… The parable (story) of the Lost Sheep, the parable of the Lost Coin and the parable of the Lost Son. In one story, a shepherd has a 100 sheep and loses one at which point he leaves the 99 to find the one. In another story, a woman has 10 coins, loses one, and goes about the entire house until she finds the one. In both stories, there is rejoicing in the finding of the lost sheep and the lost coin.

This now, brings us to the story of the Lost Son. This one is a bit more complicated. It’s familial, it’s relational and it’s conditional. You see, in this story, a father has two sons. The younger son gets fed up with his life and his circumstances, and he demands that his father gives him his share of the estate now before he dies. What a brat, right! Isn’t that what we’re all thinking? Pause. Stop. The request, this demand of the son to the father to give him his share of his inheritance, would likely have been interpreted in that culture as a wish for his father’s death. It would have created a large rift between the son and his family, and most likely the whole town. Talk about a family beef! But, his father, upon hearing his younger son’s demands, decides to divide up his wealth and give it to his son’s before he dies anyway. The younger son gets his cash and says, “Bet,” and dips out to parrrrrtayyyyy. (Insert a Miami Vibes Spotify playlist and Will Smith here)…  “Party in the city where the heat is on. All night, on the beach till the break of dawn… Bienvenidos a Miami.” (Todd Stop). Okay. You get the point. He turnt up in the place. (Really Todd, stop).

So, the younger son wastes all, and I mean, ALL of his money. He had nothing left. After trying to make it on his own, starving on the streets feeling hopeless and stressed out, he decided to go back home. Pause. Stop. Maybe you’ve been there… Maybe not starving or left on the streets… But feeling hopeless and/or stressed out… Decisions you’ve made that have had horrible consequences… Maybe you’re there now… Or worse yet, maybe it’s the result of someone else’s decisions… Keep reading… The story gets better.

As the story goes, the younger son decides to go back home and throw himself at the mercy of his father. As he’s still “a long way off,” his father sees him. Check out what happens next…

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”Luke 15:20

You see, when it comes to grace and forgiveness, it’s not necessarily us running to the Father, it’s that the Father has run to us.

This. Is. Massive. The fact that the father ran to his son is crazy. As Americans in our American culture, we miss this cultural note. In our culture we see running as simply as an expression of joy. But, in the Middle East, especially in rural areas, a man of this age would be expected to always walk slowly, with dignity. This father didn’t do that… He ran to his son… And he did so most likely to protect his son from the children of the town who might have decided to meet the son by throwing stones at him. The father humbles himself as he reconciles with his youngest son and becomes a powerful picture of the God of grace. Can you imagine the tax collectors and other notorious sinners hearing this message? Those were the most hated people within that culture. And hearing that story, maybe for the first time, now have hope.

Can you imagine the Pharisees and other teachers hearing that story? There’s one other son in this story… The older son. He too accepted his father’s inheritance early. He knows the beef his younger son created and accepts his own share of the inheritance and actually shares in the sin of his younger brother. The drama in this family would have made the drama of the Kardashians seem small! So, when the younger brother comes back, you might think the older brother would be happy and want to share in the celebration that his father is asking for. But he doesn’t. He becomes angry and throws a baby fit.

“The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends.’”Luke 15:28-29

And his father, who humbled himself to reconcile his little brother back to the family, replies to the older brother with just as much grace. Check this out…

“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”Luke 15:31-32

And in this moment, the Pharisees and other teachers would have likely known that Jesus was comparing them with the older brother’s attitude. And here’s the thing, whether you see yourself as the younger son, without hope and stressed out… Maybe you’ve strayed away from your relationship with God… Like the father in this story, He has humbled Himself enough to be born in the flesh, live among His creation, die at the hands of humanity, and rise again in victory.

Jesus is the humble grace that God has offered to us.

Maybe you’re the older son or the Pharisees in this story. You’ve stood in anger at people. You’ve sinned in your own way or maybe have stood in judgment over others. While we don’t know how they responded, this same grace is offered to you. Jesus has come to change lives and reconcile each one of us to God.

One more serious question… If you’re a follower of Jesus, is this the type of grace you’re offering to others? Are you willing to humble yourself… To look like a fool and extend the grace we see in this story to others?

No matter who you relate to in this story, God the Father has brought the possibility of reconciliation between all of His children.

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”Ephesians 2:8-9