Putin is scarcely the "waiting father" in the (most popularly) titled Parable of the Prodigal Son (yesterday's Gospel, Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32), eager for Ukraine to return to the Russian fold. Nor is he the "dissolute son", despite his appalling profligacy in Ukraine - the dissolute son hurt his father emotionally and wasted his inheritance foolishly, but he never murdered anyone. Yet the parable speaks to Putin, and to you and me.
My cue for saying that is a lovely insight (which contributed to my sermon yesterday) in one of my favourite books of biblical scholarship, by F. Bovon, Luke the Theologian: Fifty-five years of research (1950-2005), 2nd edition, Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2006.
Writing about Luke and salvation, pp. 277-78, Bovon writes,
For Luke, the life of Jesus accomplishes this salvation: "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10). His ministry, summarized in this way, is marked by the coordination of action and word. The importance of the proclamation of salvation, and so of the Word (in the form of the predication of the kingdom), permits Luke to remove anything that might be automatic from the notion of salvation. The response humans give to the offer of salvation is necessary. In Luke, it is called pistis and metanoia. Luke cannot conceive of a miracle in which the faith of the human is absent (the "your faith has saved you" is more frequent in Luke than in the other Synoptics, cf. Luke 7:50; 8:48, etc). We also know that Luke emphasizes conversion. The illustration he gives in the parable of the Prodigal Son (luke 15:11-32) is proof. (My bold; I have transliterated the Greek words).
Yesterday I said that the parable's main point is not that God loves the worst of sinners (though God does) but that God yearns for our conversion. Whether that conversion involves a change of life as well as a change of heart (the younger son) or a change of heart (the older son, whose lifestyle, or obedience and service to his father is approved).
I further said that there remain in each of us areas and aspects of life which yet need conversion.
So to Putin: horrible and terrifying though his actions over the years and most awfully in recent weeks have been, we do not need to judge that he is not a Christian, but might we reasonably say that there is a work of conversion yet needed in his life, towards the compassionate heart of the waiting Father God?
Of course we can only have such thoughts, in the light of what Jesus says about splinters and logs, if we ask ourselves what work of conversion is needed in our own lives.