The hungry prodigal knew his rich father wouldn't go to bed without supper that night. He would. The more he thought of it, it dawned on him that nobody on his father's farm would fall asleep with a growling stomach. He would. Even his father's servants had 'bread enough and to spare' (Luke 15:17). He didn't.
Since the father in the parable represents the Father in the Bible, we can draw some interesting conclusions from the phrase-'bread enough and to spare.' God has never been stingy with His blessings. He ' ... giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not' (James 1:5; cf. James 1:17). Take bread, for instance. When Israel's children needed some in the wilderness, they had all the manna they wanted: 'Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer1 for every man ... ' (Exodus 16:16). When a widow shared what she thought was her last meal with Elijah, God refilled her meal barrel and-no matter how much she dipped out-it stayed full until the famine ended (1 Kings 17:15-16). When Jesus fed 5,000 men (plus women and children), the famished people ate all they wanted and still had twelve baskets left (Matthew 14:20). When He 'opened His buffet' to 4,000 another day, they, too, ate their fill2 and had seven baskets extra (Matthew 15:37).3
When we think of man and see the magnitude of his sin, we can hardly understand how a single sinner can be saved; but when we think of God, and see the magnitude of His love, we can hardly understand how a single one could be lost. Have you considered that God loved sinners better than He loved His own Son? 'How can you say that,' you ask? He 'spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all' (Romans 8:32), but He spares sinners. He poured out His wrath upon His Son and made Him (the Innocent) the substitute for sinners, that He might lavish love upon us (the guilty) who deserved His anger.
Since God 'freely gives us all things' (Romans 8:32) and withholds 'no good thing ... from them that walk uprightly' (Psalm 84:11), what can we count on when we make the journey back to our Father from the far country?
After all these years, is there still 'bread enough' on God's table of grace? Isaiah issued this invitation twenty-seven centuries ago: 'Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon' (Isaiah 55:7). It still stands. God offers 'abundant grace' (2 Corinthians 4:15) and 'abundant mercy' (1 Peter 1:3; cf. Titus 3:5-6), yea, 'exceeding abundant' (1 Timothy 1:14); He is able 'to save them to the uttermost'4 that come to Him (Hebrews 7:25). Peter said 'an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly5 into the everlasting kingdom ...' (2 Peter 1:11). Paul concluded: 'Where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound6' (Romans 5:20).
Let's put this 'plenteous grace' to the test in a real world of really bad sinners. Did God live up to His promises?
The publicans and sinners were acknowledged (by others) and admitted (by themselves) as notorious transgressors of God's Law. Yet when they came to Jesus, they always found 'grace enough and to spare' (cf. Luke 15:1-2). More than any other group, they satiated themselves with the Bread of Life (John 8:12; cf. Matthew 9:10-11; Matthew 11:19; Mark 2:15-16; Luke 5:30; Luke 7:34).
Take the cases of the sinful woman whose reputation (quite literally) followed her (Luke 7:36-50) and the woman who got caught in bed with someone not her husband (John 8:1-11). Would grace cover such scandal? Yes! Both found that Jesus had grace enough to cover their fleshly-but forsaken-sins.
What about a traitor-one of the inner circle who forsook the Lord 'with his eyes open,' even after he had been warned (Matthew 26:34)? Peter was all these; he denied his Master three times the night the Friend of Sinners most needed a friend. He cursed and swore that he did not even know 'the man' (Matthew 26:72). Could grace cover such a high-handed misdemeanor? Yes. Jesus forgave Peter. But surely he was on probation; certainly he was counted second-rate ... damaged goods. No, less than two months later, Jesus tapped him to be the keynote speaker at the greatest revival of all time (Acts 2). He featured him as the key character of the first half of Acts of Apostles, used him to write two Scripture books, and placed him as an elder in a local congregation (1 Peter 5:1-2).
Those on whose hands God saw crimson stains that matched His Son's blood-type were told: 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins ...' (Acts 2:38). Three thousand washed their hands 'in the fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel's veins' that very day (Acts 2:41; cf. Zechariah 13:1), and many others took Him up on His offer in coming weeks (Acts 2:47). It would be hard to imagine a case today that would equal that of the Pentecost sinners.
What about moral delinquents? Without doubt, perverts swindlers, and drunks are not welcome at the Father's banquet, right? Again, we find they are-provided they are penitent. Paul wrote of some who had been fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, homosexuals7, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). But, by God's grace, they had been 'washed ... sanctified ... justified' (1 Corinthians 6:11).
No one has gotten up from God's table still needing a snack of grace. Is your case a difficult one? Have your sins been shocking and frequent? Are your spiritual diseases strange and complex? Consider He who made the earth, stretched out the heavens like a tent to dwell in, has no bound to His strength, nor limit to His might.8 In six thousand years9, He has never failed at anything-will His first failure be saving you? Will you prove too strong for omnipotence, boggle the omniscient mind, or be unlovable for omni-benevolence? If He made you (Genesis 1:28), He can remake you (2 Corinthians 5:17). If He claims you (2 Corinthians 6:18), He can cleanse you (Acts 22:16). 'His hand is not shortened that it cannot save ... ' (Isaiah 59:1).
1 'omer, is literally, 'a heap.' It could also be translated 'a sheaf.'
2 chortazo, 'to gorge; supply food in abundance.'
3 Since Jesus knew all things, could He not have prepared 'just enough?' Perhaps these nineteen baskets are in the Bible just to show us that God always gives extra.
4 panteles, 'entire, completion.'
5 plousios, 'copiously, richly.'
6 There is a beautiful play on words that is not immediately seen in the translation. The first 'abound' (pleonazo) means, 'be more, increase.' The second 'abound' is a different word (huperperisseuo). It is a compound word made up of huper, "over, above, beyond,' and perisseuo, 'to superabound, be in excess, be superfluous.' Thus this word is an intensified hyperbole carrying the meaning, 'to be beyond excess.'
7 The phrase 'abusers of themselves with mankind' translates the word arsenokoites which taken literally means, 'two males on a couch.' It refers to sodomites.
8 Charles H. Spurgeon, Miracles and Parables of our Lord.
9 Since creation, but you could say ten billion times ten billion. He is eternal, of course.