Earnest Hemingway, in The Capital of the World, tells a popular Spanish story about a father and his son named “Paco.”
Paco was rebellious. Disobedient. Defiant. And irresponsible. Unwilling to follow his father’s rules, he preferred his own way of living. One evening in the heat of an argument, Paco hurled some hurtful and hateful words at his father. Packed up his few possessions. Stomped out the door, slamming it behind him. And traveled to Madrid. Hoping to never see his father again.
Regardless of his son’s rebellion, the father still loved him. Cared about him. He wondered. “Is he alright?” “Is he in trouble?’ “Is he hurt?” Finally, the father decided he must do something. He could no longer bear the pain of separation. So, he traveled to Madrid. And placed a personal ad in the classified section of the newspaper, El Liberal. It simply read:
Paco. Meet me at the Hotel Montana. Noon Tuesday. All is forgiven. Papa.
The next day at noon when the father arrived at the Hotel Montana, he was astonished beyond amazement. There standing….were 800 young men…all named “Paco.” Each wanting the embrace of forgiveness. And reconciliation with their father.
This story defines our word of the week–“forgiven.” We don’t need a dictionary definition. Or an in depth study of the Greek word. We know what it means. How it feels. And why it’s important.
It’s a familiar word often spoken by Jesus to those who were spiritually broken and estranged from God.
When Jesus saw the faith of the paralytic who came to him for healing He proclaimed, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you” (Matt. 9:2).
To the sinful woman who fell weeping at the feet of Jesus, He compassionately said, “Your sins are forgiven” (Lk7:48).
Jesus mission to earth was needed so that the sinful human race might be forgiven. His ministry preached and practiced forgiveness. All the way to the cross. The penitent thief that confessed Christ was forgiven. Those who were crucifying the Son of God were forgiven. The scattered apostles, scared for the lives, who left their Master all alone were forgiven. Even Peter who denied his Lord was later forgiven and restored.
Forgiven. It’s my story. And yours. It’s a story of failure. Failure to obey. Failure to follow. Failure to learn. To love. And to listen to the Father. It’s a story of rebelling against God’s rules. Of rejecting God’s guidance. Of refusing the Father’s fellowship.
Yes, “all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.” “There is none righteous, no not one.” In fact, “if we say we have not sinned, we are liars, and the truth is not in us.” We are “Paco.” Defiant. Estranged. And self-willed.
But there is GOOD NEWS.
It is the story of Friday’s vicarious sacrifice and Sunday’s victorious resurrection. It’s God’s message extending forgiveness.
You may have left God in a fit of anger. You may have uttered some unkind words toward your Father. Some harsh words. Some cruel and cutting words. But He wants to reconcile the relationship. He is seeking you out. Searching for you. Pursuing you.
You don’t have to stay estranged from your Father. Isolated from his love. And separated from His provisions. You don’t have to reside in the far country of sin. Lonely. Hurting. And hiding.
He’s sent you a message. He wants to embrace you. Again. Just like He did Peter. He wants you to believe. Just like doubting Thomas. He loves you and wants you home. Just like John.
He’s saying, “Meet me at the cross!” “I will heal your hurts.” “Soothe your hearts.” “And redeem your sins.”
He’s saying, “Paco. Come home. All is forgiven.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman