The great arms of the eternal Father are ready to save you as you are, because the great work of Christ has effected all that is wanted before God for the acceptance of the vilest sinner. How is it that the Father can embrace the prodigal? He is fresh from the swine-trough: look at him; look at his rags; how foul they are! We would not touch them with a pair of tongs! Take him to the fire and burn the filth! Take him to the bath and wash him! That lip is not fit to kiss; those filthy lips cannot be permitted to touch that holy cheek of the glorious Father. But it is not so. While he was yet a great way off, his father saw him—rags, and poverty, and sin, and filth, and all—and he did not wait till he was clean, but ran and fell upon his neck and kissed him, just as he was. How could he do that? Why, the parable does not tell us; for it did not run on with the subject to introduce the atonement; but this explains it: when God accepts a sinner, he is in fact only accepting Christ. He looks into the sinner’s eyes, and he sees his own dear Son’s image there, and he takes him in. As we have heard of a good woman, who, whenever a poor sailor came to her door, whoever he might be, would always make him welcome, because she said, ‘I think I see my own dear son who has been these many years away, and I have never heard of him; but whenever I see a sailor, I think of him, and treat the stranger kindly for my son’s sake.’ So, my God, when he sees a sinner long for pardon and desirous of being accepted, thinks he sees his Son in him, and accepts him for his Son’s sake.
For meditation: It is possible to be accepted by God in his beloved Son (Ephesians 1:6), but the acceptable time to be accepted is now (2 Corinthians 6:2). After death comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27), not a further opportunity to be washed from our sins.