Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son, painted around 1669, is now part of the Hermitage collection in St. Petersburg, Russia. This work by the aging artist is a beautiful meditation on Jesus’ parable. The painting portrays the loving father and the two sons—the son who left, leaning ruined and repentant on his father’s breast, and the son who stayed, standing nearby in judgment with crossed arms. This solemn image tells us that both sons need healing and forgiveness from their father.
As we study forgiveness in the Bible with Today in the Word, we’ll look at the Son of God—the One who told the story. We’ll see that Jesus Christ, the Son whose obedience and sacrifice reconciled us with the Father, brought forgiveness both to the sinner and to the Pharisee in us. Our Scripture readings will remind us of the pain of guilt, the consequences of unforgiveness, and the need and the blessing of receiving and extending forgiveness.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is an open-ended story. How will you respond? Will you forgive others, and even receive their forgiveness, as the Lord has forgiven you? Our prayer is that this month’s study will help us come home to our Father and find shelter and refuge in His love, tenderness, and mercy. May we extend this mercy and forgiveness to those around us!
—Elena Mafter, Senior Editor