And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
Consider the story of the prodigal son, who wasted all of his inheritance in sinful living and then returned to his father to beg to be made a servant. He was homeless and had debased himself to eating with animals because he was so desperate for food. He expected his father to throw him out, or at least to become angry with him.
Instead, the father ran to him at the very first sign of seeing his son returning, and treated him as this scripture describes. This father gives the perfect example of forgiveness and mercy. The lesson that his son likely learned from his harrowing experience might not have been able to be learned any other way. It certainly would be more deeply learned than if his father had simply told him how to live.