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God's Heart: What God Aches For and Rejoices Over

What do you know about God; about Who God is? How would you describe Him? To truly know God, you have to know His heart, that is, what His heart aches for and what His heart rejoices over. And there is no doubt that Jesus’ powerful parable of The Prodigal Son, captured in Luke 15, makes abundantly clear that our God aches for the lost and He rejoices over the found! Lost people matter deeply to God.

In fact, Jesus told a series of parables captured in Luke 15 that drive home this wonderful truth. It is one of my favorite chapters in the entire Bible to teach and preach!  In these parables, we see not only Who God is, but who He wants us to be; after all, as Believers, as His children, God wants us to have His heart, to share His longings and His joys.

To really appreciate the parables that follow in Luke 15, it’s important to understand the context captured in Luke 15:1-2: Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  Luke 15:1-2

After Jesus hears the Pharisees' comments, He begins a series of three parables, first about a lost sheep, then a lost coin, and finally a lost son. It’s evident that Jesus wanted to make his point crystal clear for all in the audience that day… Lost people matter deeply to God! 

The Pharisees hated the fact that these sinners were attracted to Jesus and that Jesus would give them any attention; the Pharisees weren’t about to do that. Jesus doesn't just tolerate these people, He welcomes them. One thing we know about Jesus is that He always meets people right where they are, but He has no intention of leaving them there, mired in their sin. He will lead them to repentance, life change and transformation. It’s interesting that the religious elite, the Pharisees, claimed to know God best, but the reality was that they really didn’t seem to know Him at all. 

So Jesus tells a series of powerful stories that give us a glimpse into God’s very own heart using a theme we can all relate to… losing something that matters to us, then finding it again! Take a moment to read Luke 15:11-24. I’ll give you four quick observations from this part of the story, but I’m sure we could come up with 44 if we took the time! 

Following your fleshly desires ultimately leads to destruction. (Luke 15:11-12)

For this young man to request his inheritance had to be a dagger in his father’s heart, and it might as well have been because he was essentially saying to his dad, “You’re dead to me.” He’s not asking for a loan, or a hand-out, he’s asking for what he has coming to him when his father dies. How badly do you think that hurt his father? Then the son took all that his dad gave him and literally squandered it on foolish, wild living.

Cutting yourself off from your loving Father is a poor choice. (15:13-16)

The son took his inheritance and traveled to a distant land far from his father. But eventually, poor, foolish choices lead to real and hard consequences. The son reaped what he sowed, and he had sown some pretty wild oats. The good times turned to harsh times when all of his money was gone, and he found himself feeding pigs to make a few bucks. 

Now, if Jesus had stopped the story here, the Pharisees in the audience would have applauded. After all, the son got his just reward in their minds; “The pigpen was where that sinner belonged,” the Pharisees might have said. And they would have left him there; but not Jesus. Jesus wants sinners to find their way home to their Father’s house.

Taking a hard, critical look in the mirror will help you find your way home. (15:17-19)

Clearly the young man had taken a hard look in the mirror because “he came to his senses.” He realized how foolish he had been. Even his father’s servants had better lives than he did at this point. The truth is, sometimes we have to be in the pigpen of life before we realize how good we have it in our father’s house.  

Finding your way home starts with that first step and can lead to great joy in the Father’s arms!  (15:20-24) 

After coming to his senses, the son headed home. All the way, he rehearsed what he would say to his father, begging for a simple job and a place to rest his head. Yet, Jesus tells us, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him…" - which means only one thing: his father was watching, waiting, longing for his son to come home. And when his father saw him, he didn’t scoff and send someone to turn him away, but instead, filled with compassion, he ran to meet him, hugging and kissing him in the way only a loving, gracious father could. 

The son was ready to pour out his well-rehearsed speech, but all the father needed to hear was the son’s admission, his heartfelt sorrow and repentance… “Father, I have sinned against heaven and you.” At this point, the father turned to his servants and told them to prepare for a great celebration; his lost son was back home!

The Pharisees with Jesus that day would have had a hard time understanding this story. They would have expected the son to earn his way back into his father’s good graces. The father’s kindness and compassion would have had to be gained, not graciously given. Yet Jesus paints a picture of a father, our heavenly Father, who doesn’t merely accept a repentant child, but who rejoices over them!  

The great news today is that if you are that repentant son or daughter, you can come home to a Father who loves you dearly and who will joyously welcome you home. Our heavenly Father graciously and compassionately welcomes all who repent of their sin and come home to Him! This is the great news! This is why Jesus sat in the company of sinners. To truly know God is to know God’s heart… what He aches for and what He rejoices over. You see, lost people matter deeply to God. And they must matter to you and me. Who is lost in your life and in need of Jesus? Invite them to join you at Watermark where they can be introduced to Jesus, who will meet them where they are, but will not leave them there! 

For much more, click here to listen to this message and share it with someone too - The Parables - Part 3 - Knowing God’s Heart


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