I believe the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 came home because of his history with his father. This young man knew his father’s character, and he must have received great love from him. Why would he return to a man who might have been angry and vengeful, who might have beat him and made him pay back every cent he’d squandered?

The prodigal surely knew that he wouldn’t be condemned for his sins. He probably thought, “I know my father loves me. He won’t throw my sin in my face. He’ll take me back.” When you have that kind of history, you can always go back home.

Now, the young man was intent on offering a heartfelt confession to his dad because he rehearsed it all the way home. When he faced his father, though, he didn’t even get a chance to fully confess. “When he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (Luke 15:20, NKJV). The father was so happy his son was back that he covered him with kisses, essentially saying, “I love you, son. Come home and be restored.”

The father did all of this before his son could complete his confession. The young man was able to blurt out the beginning of his speech, but his father didn’t wait for him to finish. To him, the young man’s sin had already been settled.

Notice how the prodigal’s father “prevented” him from punishing himself or lowering himself with the blessing of goodness. The father’s response was to order his servants, “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 fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (Luke 15:22-24). Sin wasn’t the issue to this father. The only issue on his mind was love. He wanted his boy to know he was accepted before he could even utter a confession.

That is the point God wants to make to us all. “Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). God’s love welcomes us home.