The Prodigal Son – Part 4 (Final)
This is the 4th and last instalment of our meditation on the story of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15.11-24. It is truly remarkable how the Lord granted repentance to that desperate young man. So he arose and came to his father, 20a.
But the father was waiting and watching, and when he saw his son ‘yet a great way off’ his heart was moved with compassion. This word ‘compassion’ is a precious word; it speaks of the ‘tender mercies’ of God. “He ran, and fell on his son’s neck, and kissed him.” I don’t think any Jewish father would have done what this father did – and I believe it speaks of the compassionate, tender and loving ‘mother’ heart of our heavenly Father. He kissed his son repeatedly (so it says in the original Greek).
The son pours out his confession. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son,” 15.21. But he cannot talk about being a hired servant! How can he? He is rendered speechless by the marvellous grace and love of his father. It would be foolish to talk about being a servant in his own father’s house. It would be despising grace!
And what about the father’s love? He calls for his servants to clothe his son with the best robe. Obviously the young man is washed and then clothed. (That robe speaks of the garment of salvation, the robe of righteousness, Isa 61.10.) And then a ring is put upon his hand. He is given authority in his father’s house; he is a son, not a servant. We are reminded of how Pharaoh put his ring on Joseph’s hand, Gen 41.42. This wretched sinner is now an honored son. There is a third thing. He is given shoes for his feet. The shoes are for service. We are to witness for the Lord in this perishing world. They are the shoes of the gospel of peace. They are equipment for battle, Eph 6.18. With those shoes we can tread upon serpents and scorpions. Oh, how great are the blessings of salvation, the privileges of sonship!
But there is more. There is feasting and rejoicing. ‘Bring hither the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and be merry.’ 15.23. The fatted calf speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here he is our peace offering. The young man is reconciled to his father; there is now a joyous fellowship in the father’s house. All the servants are rejoicing. Why? ‘Because this my son was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found!’ 15.24. How great is the loving heart of our great and gracious God! Oh, how immense are the riches of His grace, the riches of His goodness, the riches of His glory. We cannot fathom His agape love.
This little story of the Prodigal Son reveals the wonderful heart of God. Truly He does not want any to perish, but that all should repent and return to Him. And then He blesses us with the joy of salvation – His so great salvation that is a veritable feast, Isa 25.6.