From an unquestioned fundamentalist Christian environment I was pretty much handed a Bible and told, 'Read this and you will know what God is like.' Then about forty years later , supposedly as a preacher of the Bible, I realized that the Bible shows many different images for God, not one. And most troubling they are indeed often contradictory. But much Christian teaching still tells folks that God in the Bible, which often ordered the murder of innocents and genocide, is the same as the one seen in Jesus' depiction of God here as an emotionally moved compassionate father. Luke pictures a father God extravagantly and unconditionally embracing his wayward son asking no questions. I could not continue to hold such a split notion of God in my head. I think this remains a problem for many today.
The author of the gospel of Luke attempts to describe what he had come to believe was the idea of God which Jesus carried in his mind and heart. As ones encouraged by what we see as the nature and character of Jesus, we can responsibly choose the nature of the ultimate God to include what is described here. We might be convinced that such a view of God just might help keep humans from destroying themselves and the planet in this post modern impersonal age, whereas other images of god only lead us toward destruction. This very reading helps me in sorting out the nature and the will of what humans have immemorially referred to as God.