Self-emptying love of Christ

A moving insight into the parable of the prodigal son from Stott’s Cross of Christ (218-19):

….in his book The Cross and the Prodigal Dr. Bailey, who has for many years taught New Testament at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, takes a fresh look at Luke 15 “through the eyes of Middle Eastern peasants.” He explains that the whole village would know that the returning prodigal was in disgrace, and that punishment of some kind was inevitable, if only to preserve the father’s honor. But the father bears the suffering instead of inflicting it. Although “a man of his age and position always walks in a slow, dignified fashion,” and although “he has not run anywhere for any purpose for 40 years,” he yet “races” down the road like a teenager to welcome his home-coming son. Thus risking the ridicule of the street urchins, “he takes upon himself the shame and humiliation due to the prodigal.” “In this parable,” Dr. Bailey continues, “we have a father who leaves the comfort and security of his home and exposes himself in a humiliating fashion in the village street. The coming down and going out to his boy hints at the incarnation. The humiliating spectacle in the village street hints at the meaning of the cross.” Thus “the cross and the incarnation are implicitly yet dramatically present in the story,” for “the suffering of the cross was not primarily the physical torture but rather the agony of rejected love.” What was essential for the prodigal’s reconciliation was a “physical demonstration of self-emptying love in suffering.… Is not this the story of the way of God with man on Golgotha?”

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