Sunday morning in our church small group we studied The Prodigal Son. Even though I’ve heard the story so many times, I still discovered something new.
17“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22But the father said to his servants,d ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:17-24 ESV
Did you ever read a passage like this and try to imagine details that are not actually mentioned in the script, like, how might things have looked, sounded, smelled, or felt?
For example, the son just came back from working with pigs. A picture just doesn’t do this justice.
I don’t know how many of you have ever been anywhere near a pig farm, but my cousin used to live across the street from a pig farm, and it stunk!
The Prodigal has been working at a pig farm. He’s wasted all the money his father has given him and is now too poor to find food to eat. So chances are good that he’s not bathing either. I’ll leave the rest to your own imagination.
The father loves his son and has probably been looking out for him every day, so he sees him coming from afar. I wonder if he also smelled him from afar! One thing’s pretty sure; he did smell him once he got near. But there’s nothing suggesting that he had a problem with that. In fact, he was so glad to see his son that he called for a celebration!
He called for the best robe to be used to replace the old stinky one.
Another thing that was not said is that, when the father gave the son a hug and kiss, chances are that the stink rubbed off on the father’s clothes. But the father is not thinking about himself. He is completely absorbed with his love for his son.
Of course, the father is a symbol for God, and the pig stench is symbolic of our sin.
A lot of people think that they have to clean themselves up before they come to the Father. But in actuality we need to come to the end of ourselves and let God clean up the stench of our sin from our lives.
Jesus took all of the stench of our sin upon Himself on the cross.
He paid the penalty of our sin, and His blood washes us from all of our sin when we come to Him and trust Him to forgive us.
Today I’m thankful that Jesus loved me enough to take the stench of my sin upon Himself.
I’m thankful that I can come to Him just as I am and that I don’t have to clean myself up first.
I’m thankful that Jesus’ blood cleanses me from all my sin.
How about you? Do you sometimes feel like you need to clean up your own act before you can come to God? Isn’t it comforting to know that Jesus shed his blood for us so that we can be cleansed? Did you ever consider that it is your sin (and mine) that made Jesus go to the cross? Have you ever come to the end of yourself and come to Jesus, recognizing your utter dependence on Him?