I woke up tired today! Unfortunately, yesterday was not much of a “rest day” at all.
I figured that I better get my run in first thing in the morning. I didn’t want it hanging over my head all day. “First thing in the morning” today was not quite as early as it usually is, but I got out in the (late) morning and ran a nice 5k.
I ran 3.1 miles in 23 minutes and 47 seconds, which was an average pace of 7:39 per mile. I feel like I am getting my legs back, but the first mile of my last three runs have been pretty forced. I think that means it is time for me to start stretching out the distance. Maybe tomorrow I can pick up more than just 3.1 miles. We’ll see…
One of the more difficult aspects of running at least a 5k every day in the month of May is the time commitment! It just takes a lot of time! I do believe it is a good investment of time, but some days I don’t feel like I have any to invest. Without this accountability, I would probably just say, “Today is a great day to not run…”
So THANK YOU to everyone who has been a part of this challenge. I hope it has been as good for you as it has been for me!
In the daily bible reading, I have been blown away yet again by the amazing response of the father in the parable of the prodigal son.
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! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And 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. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For 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)
Let’s look at the key responses from the father one at a time.
He never stopped waiting for his son to return. I get the feeling that the father spent his days regularly looking off into the distance, hoping, believing, praying that his son would return. …while he was still a long way off, his father saw him
He felt compassion for his son. The son had messed up royally. He essentially told the father, “I don’t want you, I just want your stuff!” Still the father felt compassion, not condemnation, for his lost son. …his father saw him and felt compassion.
He ran to his son. It should be pointed out that old Jewish men in this culture DO NOT run (they would never make it through #5kMay2019). It was culturally unacceptable for a man like this to embarrass himself by tucking up his robe and running to his son, but he did it anyway. He couldn’t help himself -or maybe there was more to the running than meets the eye (we’ll talk about that in a moment…) …his father saw him … and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
He embraced his son. Let us not forget that this wayward son had filled his days in while living and tending to pigs. No distinguished Jewish man would associate with pigs, nor would he associate with someone who was in the presence of pigs (and likely smelled like pigs). But the father did not allow this to stop him from embracing his son! Again, there may be more to the embrace than meets the eye, but we’ll get to that soon enough. …his father saw him … embraced him.
He kissed his son. As if the embrace were not enough, the father extended one of the most intimate gestures possible to his son. He kissed him. I often kiss my son on the top of his head while I am hugging him. I do it because I love him more than words can express, and I want to show it. That is the kind of kiss I imagine happening here. …his father saw him … and kissed him.
He gave his robe to his son. When the father told the servant to bring the best robe, he was essentially saying, “Bring my robe.” Let there be no mistake about it, the father was welcoming the son home as a son. There is no way that this robe would be offered to anyone outside of the family. The father was letting his son know that he would not have to earn his way back into the family. His presence was all that was required. …the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him…
He put a ring on his son’s hand. This is easy to miss, because we don’t live in the same culture as Jesus was speaking into. The ring was not just some form of jewelry. It was essentially the family credit card. Business deals would be sealed with the family ring as a way of saying, “I’m good for it.” The father was giving his son, who had previously wasted his portion of the inheritance, the responsibility of handling the family finances. Again, the son was not required to earn his way back into that position of responsibility. His previous misjudgment had been completely forgiven. …the father said … put a ring on his hand.
He put shoes on his son’s feet. Not only does this indicate that the son was walking around shoeless, but it is a significant gesture because the servants did not wear shoes. Only the family members wore shoes. The son had a speech prepared for the father. He did not expect to be welcomed back into the family. He only wanted to capitalize on his father’s kindness to the servants, and become one of them. The father was not having any of that! He put shoes on his feet to say, “You are no servant in my house, son.” …the father … put … shoes on his feet.
He killed threw a party! The father was so excited to have his son back, that he wanted to throw a party. Think about the public message that is being communicated! This father was not content to welcome his rebellious, wayward son home quietly. No! He wanted everyone to know that his son had returned. He had no shame. No embarrassment. Only joy that he wanted to share with his neighbors and friends. …the father said … bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.
What an amazing response! How loved and overwhelmed this son must have felt! On the surface, and even a little below, the father’s actions were significant and meaningful.
But I want to suggest a possible other explanation for his actions.
This father was likely a good Jewish man. He likely knew the scriptures. He likely taught his sons to know the scriptures. His servants likely knew the scriptures. Therefore, everyone on the property likely knew Deuteronomy 21:18-21.
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.(Deuteronomy 21:18–21, ESV)
Is it possible that the father ran to meet his son while he was still a long way off because he was actually racing the servants? Did he want to get to his son before the elders did?
Was the father only able to get to the son before the men of the city because they were distracted by the act of finding the perfect stone?
How complete was the father’s embrace? Was it a kind side hug, or was it a full-on bear hug? Was the father embracing his son simply as a way of saying, “I love you”, or was it also a way of telling the men of the city who had surrounded the boy, with stones in hand, that if they are going to throw stones at the stubborn and rebellious son (like Deuteronomy 21:18-21 said to do) they will have to get through the father first?
What point exactly was Jesus trying to make?
Isn’t this exactly how Jesus loves us? Satan and the world come at us, wanting to destroy us. They have every reason to do so. We have all sinned and we all deserve to die. But Jesus sees us -even when we are a long way off. He runs to us, embraces us, and protects us from the stones being hurled at us from Satan and his minions.
If Satan is going to get to us, he will have to go through Jesus, first.
Jesus has forgiven us, restored us, made us co-heirs with Him, and has welcomed us into the family.
The parable of the prodigal son is our story.