The Wanderer Welcomed - by C.A. Coates




Luke 15: 11-24


We have in the well-known parable of the prodigal son a vivid picture of the condition into which man has plunged himself, and of the amazing grace of God to him when utterly wretched and undone.

The young man in the parable did not rush headlong into open rebellion, but he desired to set up on his own account. The root of all his folly, and the cause of his ruin, was independence. He was willing selfishly to accept his father's bounty, but he wanted to be away from his father.

If we go back to the garden of Eden we find the same evil spirit doing its deadly work. Adam and Eve were placed in a beautiful scene where every good was bountifully supplied by God's liberal hand. But pride of heart came in, and they began to think that they could do better for themselves than God was willing to do for them. They accepted the advice of the serpent, and started out on a course of independence of God, which proved to be their destruction. They got what they wanted, but found that instead of a blessing it was a curse, for it gave them the knowledge of a good they could never reach and of an evil from which they could never escape. Independence of will has alienated man from God, and brought in death and the curse. How true is that word, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14: 12)!

The prodigal distrusted his father's goodness and love, and desired to have his own way. Is there nothing like this in your heart? Do you not think that if you turned to God it would curtail your pleasures and interfere with your plans and objects? Through the pride of your heart you will not seek after God. You would rather be in a land where His eye could never see you. Every unconverted man and woman lives in a "far country" of alienation from God. The pride of man's heart led him away from God, and keeps him away.

Having got away from his father, the prodigal entered upon a career of self-indulgence that he might forget him, but presently this came to an end. When his fortune was spent he could no longer purchase either pleasure or friendship. The companions of his sin gave him no help or comfort in the day of his sorrow, and those who had encouraged his folly deserted him in the dark hour of his famine.

This is ever Satan's way with his servants. He will help you along in pleasure, but when poverty comes he will desert you. He will minister no consolations in the time of trouble, and at last he will leave you to die in your sins and to be judged without mercy. John Bunyan said truly that Satan was a bad master, for he paid such wages as no man could live on:

"The Wages of Sin is Death."

The way of sinful pleasure is the high-road to poverty. When you have to face eternity you will discover that all your treasure is where you will have to leave it, and that there is nothing before you but death, judgment, and the lake of fire.

The young man in the parable found out his poverty before it was too late to escape from it, and by God's grace you may likewise find out yours. If God, by His Spirit, reveals to you what you are in His sight, you will cry out, "Woe is me! for I am undone" (Isaiah 6: 5). You must find out that you are a sinner before you will appreciate a Saviour. It is the one who, burdened with a sense of guilt, condemns himself before God, and cries out "God be merciful to me a sinner" who gets blessing (Luke 18: 13).

The prodigal's blessing began in the very depth of his need. Man's extremity is God's opportunity. "He came to himself." This is a grand moment in a man's history. He does not then talk about being as good as his neighbours and no worse than others. It is a wise thing to take your stand honestly before God and say, 'If there is only one sinner in the world, I am that one. I am lost and hell-deserving. God be merciful to me.' An old writer said, 'God would hush every harp in heaven rather than miss hearing such a cry.'

To a convicted sinner God delights to speak in words of tender grace. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1: 18). God has found a Ransom. He has provided a Lamb for an offering to make atonement for sin. The gospel of God does not make heavy demands. He does not call upon men to earn salvation by their own works, or to make themselves worthy of it. He presents it for their acceptation - a free gift of His own grace. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16: 31).

Christ in death has finished the work of atonement. He has perfectly satisfied and glorified God as to the whole question of sin. It was the Father's will that sinners should be saved, and the Son came forth to accomplish a work in virtue of which God could be just and the Justifier. Satan's head had been bruised, sins have been put away, and the sting and victory of the grave abolished. And now God has raised up Jesus from the dead and made Him Lord and Christ in heaven. And in the name of that glorified Saviour the forgiveness of sins is now proclaimed.

Remain no longer in the distance of the far country when God is beseeching you to draw near - to enjoy the deep blessedness of His holy love - to be reconciled to Him.

Christ is the measure of the welcome and acceptance of every one who believes in Him. It becomes the believer's joy to feed on His perfections, and to rejoice before God in the exceeding preciousness of Christ.