Jesus Loves Sinners: He runs toward you, not away!  Part 2

You cannot sin your way out of His heart!

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have drawn you with lovingkindness. Jeremiah 31:3 


When the despicable, good-for-nothing prodigal son was still in the distance; head bowed, shoulders shrunk, unbathed, clothes tattered, walking toward his father’s home, the father ran toward him and embraced him. It was not customary for a wealthy and noble Hebrew man to run. To run, especially toward a known sinner, would be quite unbefitting for a noble man of honor. The neighbors consider the father a fool. But it didn’t matter to this father. He ran toward his stupid, arrogant, foolish and sin-soaked son.  


His son could not sin his way out of his father’s heart.  


Jesus runs toward sinners, not away. 


It’s good that the son sunk low to a place of utter despair. Why? As long as he was intent on making it big on his own, there wasn’t much his father could do to help the son. He was out there on his own. With visions of wealth, pleasure and power, the son repudiated his father and demanded his inheritance.  After squandering his fortune and finding himself utterly impoverished, making a fool of his father, the Bible says he came to his senses


All of us who love Jesus have had this happen to us to one degree or another. At a low point of despair, God kindly flashed a light into our rebellious hearts. He gave us enough light to help us come to our senses. In our low point, He gave us a moment of clarity and we looked toward Him. God says, I have drawn you with loving kindness. The prodigal was in a low place. But low places are often the places of clarity, epiphanies, and enlightenment. 


In a moment of clarity, the prodigal son realized what he had done. A glimmer of hope flashed before him; I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him … I am no longer worthy to be called your son, make me as one of your hired hands. 


I think this is fascinating. Just like us, with the realization of sin, the son hoped that his father would simply accept him back. He didn’t expect blessings, he hoped for a bare existence of work, food and water. Can you relate to that way of thinking? We often don’t realize and accept that God wants to bless us with an abundance of blessings, in spite of our sins.  


Yes, there is the natural and spiritual law of sowing and reaping. Our sins will produce natural results such as loneliness, despair, strife and relational conflicts. But our level of sin doesn’t cause God to push back from us. His mercy, grace and compassionate care is not victim to our level of sin. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you … regardless of your level of sin. 


Is your view of God the same as the prodigal toward his father? When you go to God, seeking restoration, whether it is for the first time or whether it is every time in your Christian walk, is your view of God’s work of restoration simply functional? Does God restore us with His index finger wagging in our face? Does He assign us to a lowly station and tell us we have to work our way back up into His favor? Does our guilt cause us to think of ourselves as only God’s hired hand?


But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him … ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and have been found.’ And they began to celebrate! Luke 15:20-24 


When it comes to the restoration of His children, God goes all in. It’s like He’s waiting, anxious to spring into action, wanting to give His all, watching and listening for the faintest call for help, ready to run, longing to hug and kiss.


Two men went up the hill to pray, one a pharisee and the other a thieving tax-collector. The pharisee prayed to himself, thanking himself that he wasn’t a sinner. He was happy with his own righteousness. The other man; the filthy, rotten scoundrel of the community, couldn’t even raise his eyes to pray. In utter humiliation, he asked God for mercy. ‘Help me, a sinner.’ The pharisee walked down the hill alone. Jesus ran toward the other man, the sinner, embraced him and kissed him and walked down the hill with His arm around him.  


This is the same Jesus that runs toward you. He loves to wipe away your sins and will walk with you, arm in arm, for the rest of your life. Christians, He will draw close to you even when you sin. He’s the healer of your soul in salvation when He forgives you once and for all; and He’s the healer of your soul in sanctification as He walks close to you for the rest of your life, even when you sin. He especially draws near to you in your deepest time of need. 


There is no sin so great in your past, present or future life that will keep Jesus away from you. This reality does not easily fit into our view of how things should work. But His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. There’s no sin you have done, you are doing or will do that Jesus will not forgive. The question is, can you accept that reality? 


Have you ever felt like Jesus could never forgive you? 


It’s time to put those feelings behind you. It’s time to draw near to Him, not run from Him. It’s time to say to Jesus, help me, forgive me, save me.  


Father, shine your light deep into our hearts. Draw us out of the dark, lurking in the shadow, where we feel we deserve to be, and place us into your arms of love, grace and blessings. We know clearly, we don’t deserve it, but nevertheless, give us the courage to accept Your blessings — abundant and overflowing. You endured the cross, despising the shame, for the joy set before you … the joy of saving sinners, such as I. Amen!