He Lost Everything to Gain the World, What Have You Lost?
A Long Way Off
Imagine you are the wayward prodigal son returning home because you are starving. Your clothing is tattered, and filthy. While still a great way off, you see your father surrounded by a group of noisy people running towards you. Terrified, your steps falter.
To your astonishment, you hear your father cry out with pain, mingled with joy, “My son! My son!” As he draws near, there are tears in your father’s eyes. Then your father falls on you, kissing and hugging you, weeping with joy.
You begin your prepared speech but in the presence of such great love and mercy, you can’t finish your self-satisfied speech. Your eyes are opened to realize you have broken your father’s heart. Awed by your father’s love, you bow your head in genuine repentance.
Your Father calls for the beautiful white robe of righteousness, shoes for your feet, and a ring for your finger.
Which item(s) do you imagine receiving and wearing? Which item or items don’t you see yourself receiving?
Throughout this parable, Jesus used words with subtle and deeper meanings than our literal translations provide. To get the full picture, you have to go beneath the surface – which is the whole intent of this parable – what is brewing beneath the surface, needs to be brought into the light.
Let’s return to the beginning of the story.
Two brothers, rivals, agreed on one thing. They hated their father.
Not understanding sonship, triggered by anger, the younger in defiance of local culture demanded his share of the inheritance. His actions demonstrated the unspoken words, “I hate you and want you to die” and the belief his father owed him.
With a broken heart, rather than punish either son, the father gave both what they wanted and the younger took off. Anonymous, far from his father’s house, with abandonment, he feasted and engaged in riotous pleasures that knew no boundary, taking whatever his heart wanted. As many joined him in his wantonness as he squandered his wealth, he was unaware of the famine of his soul and spirit.
Before God could begin His transformative work, this young man had to face utter destitution to recognize he was lost and to understand the depth of his depravity.
And so, a mighty, boisterous famine arose. Facing starvation, his lack went beyond hunger as he lost his influence and social position. Previously exalted because of his lavish feasts, suddenly he was at the bottom of society; in want of friends, acceptance, and community, he was destitute and without hope. Frightened, without boundaries, he glued himself to a local citizen, and was sent into the field to tend the swine.
In his defilement, he chose to face starvation in the companionship of swine. As he sat with them, he lusted after their food; but they were ruthless and would turn on him if he tried to touch their food. From a boisterous lifestyle, to a boisterous famine, boisterous thoughts spun in his head as he faced no boundaries in his hunger pains.
Remorseless, though his choice led in the right direction, he set off for home with the pragmatic goal to feed his belly. On the way, he planned a little speech to manipulate his dad by dutifully offering to work as a slave.
While still a great way off, he saw his father, surrounded by a group of noisy people, running towards him. He deserved the hatred of his community and knew he would have to face their anger, but he hadn’t imagined his father would be so vicious. Terrified, his steps faltered. He had braced himself to receive a beating for losing his inheritance. But he never thought his father would be so eager to beat him, maybe even kill him.
To his astonishment, he heard his father cry out in anguish mingled with joy, “My son! My son!” As he drew near, he saw tears in his father’s eyes. What could this mean?
Then his father fell on him, kissing and hugging him as he cried aloud with joy. The word fell means rush, fall upon, and is used of the embrace of love.
The prodigal began his prepared speech but in the presence of such great love and mercy, he couldn’t finish. As the light of his father’s unconditional love fell upon him, he realized he had broken his father’s heart. For the first time, he experienced remorse, and in humility chose to come into order, accepting sonship with both its privileges and responsibilities.
Regardless of the prodigal’s dishonor and shame, he was honored as the father’s beloved son. His position was immediately established. Servants attended him; shoes were placed on his feet denoting his sonship. The father’s robe covered his nakedness and shame. The ring of authority was placed upon his finger denoting he held authority within the father’s home.
We read, “For without the shedding of blood, there is no remission for sin” (Heb 9:22). Blood was spilt at the threshold of the door, as the fatted calf’s life was sacrificed in exchange for the son’s life.
As honored guest, he stepped across the blood into the home as a sign of entering into covenant relationship. Years earlier he had divorced himself from his family. Now he was reborn, adopted back as a son. He was not just son by birth, now he was the son of the covenant; one with his father, welcomed into the home.
The thread of redemption in this story reveals the heart of the Father is love; He desires to redeem you from your past.
The wonderful news is while you are an enemy, the Heavenly Father reconciles you to Himself through the death of Jesus, His Son. As you step across the blood, you are born again by the Holy Spirit, who places you into the Father’s heart. And once you are His own child, nothing is greater than His love as He reconciles you to Himself.
Do not harden your heart and act like a slave.Today, turn in contrition and allow the Heavenly Father to place His robe of righteousness upon you. You may choose slavery or sonship but you cannot experientially have both. Christ died so you may legally be the Father’s son, but if in your mind you are a slave, you will never appropriate the salvation He provided for you.
Today, choose to step across the blood. Make the choice to put on the shoes of peace representing your sonship. Choose to walk with gratitude on the path yoked together with Christ Jesus, co-heirs with Him, wearing the shoes of the Gospel of peace purchased for you by His blood.
Then choose to gratefully embrace the responsibility and authority as a son of the Heavenly Father; use the ring of authority He places upon your finger to honor Him. Choose to use His ring of authority to reject the world, the flesh, and the devil, and come into godly order under Him.
The Father has given you everything you need for life and holiness. It is your choice to step across the blood into covenant relationship with Him. Reject the shame of slavery. Your sins were paid for; leave them in the tomb. Today, cease being a slave and enter into relationship with the Heavenly Father. Choose to walk out of fear, doubt, guilt, shame, self-righteousness, pride, or religiosity. Return to the Heavenly Father’s house.
Come home. Feast in His house. Do not spurn the Father’s love, mercy, and forgiveness as you desperately seek to remain in control and do life your way. Choose in humility to turn from slavery and with gratitude embrace sonship.
The LORD is near to those who are of a broken heart; and saves those who have a contrite spirit. (Psalms 34:18).
- Be in want: G5302 ὑστερέω hysteréō; from G5306; to be later, i.e. (by imp.) to be inferior; generally, to fall short (be deficient): come behind (short), be destitute, fail, lack, suffer need, (be in) want. Thayer’s. https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5302&t=KJV . Accessed Feb 16.
- Fell upon: G1968 ἐπιπίπτω epipíptō; from G1909 and G4098; to embrace (with affection) or vigorously seize:: fall into (upon). https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1968&t=KJV . Ibid.
- Luke 15: 11-32.