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Recently, I discovered that there is a close relationship between the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) and the death and resurrection of Jesus on the cross.

Most of us would know that the parable speaks about God’s great love for us. Like the father who pined for the return of his lost son, God also earnestly desires for us to return to him. We are told in 2 Peter 3:9 that God does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent (NLT). This is so that all of us can be forgiven and saved. In this sense, Jesus’ death for us on the cross demonstrates God’s love, just as the parable does.

But what we don’t realise about this story is the sacrifice that the father had to go through to receive the son back into the family.

You see, in those days, there was a strict communal code that the Jewish people lived by. Every wrongdoing must be dealt with and every act of dishonour punished. And what the prodigal son did to his father, by demanding his share of his inheritance and leaving his family, must have been known throughout the entire community. It must have been condemned as shameful and unfilial in the eyes of everyone.

So, imagine when the prodigal son returned, the entire village must have expected some form of retribution to be meted out to the young man. After all, the insult of the son to the honour of his father was also an affront to the whole community and must be repaid in kind. The young man was fully aware of what others felt, which was why he decided to go back as a slave. He knew he fully deserved the punishment of the entire clan.

Yet to everyone’s astonishment, his father forsook his dignity and ran to his son like how he would normally do. He risked the ire and criticism of his fellow elders in his village by restoring his son instead of seeing that he got punished. He was willing to risk his reputation and let go of what others thought of him to embrace his son.

In the same way, our Father has risked his honour to send his Son Jesus into the world for us. And Jesus coming to earth as a human being and dying on the cross for us involved a great risk as well. Human beings could reject his sacrifice for us and trample on his gift of himself as something of little value. God undertook such a great risk because of his great love for us!

This Easter, may we be continually and fully thankful for what God did for us on the cross – at great risk and cost to himself!

Happy Easter!

Revd Ian