Quite a contrast, he was. He had fairly skipped away, so eager he was to leave. Now, home he comes…all weak, worn, and weary. For him it had required the far country to reveal the wonders of home. He had to look through the lenses of deep destitution to see what truly mattered. All he had left now was the memory of home. So, home he goes. He took with him carefully chosen words. He would not ask for too much. He knew exactly what he deserved. It would be, he knew, the height of mercy, to simply be allowed quarter with the hired hands. Imagine his amazement when he looks up and sees his father, having hiked up his robe, running to him. After many kisses and much embracing, he begins his speech, “Father, I have sinned…I’m not worthy to be called your son.” That’s all he got out. The rest of his speech was interrupted by the welcome home celebration of a father’s love. Did you know that the same sort of welcome awaits all of us sinners who come home? It’s true!
Ian Maclaren tells a similar story with a different setting. Flora was a prodigal daughter, coming home. Arriving at the door she didn’t have the strength to knock. She could hear her father inside feeling for the latch, and saying nothing but, “Flora, Flora.” She too had her speech, but all she got out was, “Father,” for her father, who had never even kissed her all the days of her youth, held her closely and sobbed out blessings over her head. When Flora later told her friend Margaret about her welcome home, she said that in the Gaelic there are fifty words for ‘darling,’ and that her father called her by every one of them the night she came home.
In the creation of this world, in the unfolding of history and the amazing scheme of redemption that came to its full in the life, cross and crown of Jesus Christ, our Father has been busy loving us all the way home. He interrupts our stated reasons for being unworthy with His great love to say, “Welcome Home!”