“When he was still a great way off, his father…had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.”     Lk 15:20 NKJV

Here’s an interesting and largely unknown thing about the story of the Prodigal Son, as pointed out by Pastor James Bradley. Jewish families living in small villages were tightly knit communities where people knew one another well. So when something like this happened, word traveled fast. When the younger son demanded his inheritance it was like saying to his father, “I can’t wait until you die. I want what’s mine, now!” Such a thing was unheard-of. Then he went away, forgot the values he’d been taught, and squandered his inheritance on parties and prostitutes. As a result he ended up destitute, working in a pigpen. For a Jew, you can imagine the stigma. After breaking his father’s heart and the rules of the community, he decided to come back home. And that’s when his father “ran” to meet him. Here’s why. Had he reached home after failing so badly, the village elders would have held a “ceremony of shame” known in Hebrew as kezazah. They’d have taken a clay pitcher and smashed it on the ground in front of him, meaning his ties with the community were broken and he was no longer welcome. That’s why his father ran to meet him. He was saying, “I have to get to my son with grace before they get to him with the law. I have to give him hope before they take it away. I have a different ceremony in mind: a homecoming party to celebrate his restoration.” And what the father did for his Prodigal Son that day, God will do for you today if you’ll only turn to Him.