In the Gospel of Luke, there is a beautiful story of a father's love and grace. It is a story of an ungrateful son who asks his father for his inheritance while he is still alive. After receiving it, the son runs away to a faraway land and spends the inheritance on wine and irresponsible living.
The story tells us that he comes to a breaking point when he finds himself sleeping with the pigs and longing for their food. Coming to his senses, he decides to return to his father. As he nears his home, his father spots him from a distance, runs to him, and embraces him with a hug and a kiss. He doesn’t ask any questions and orders his servants to bring the finest robe and put it on his son. He puts a ring on his son’s finger and sandals on his feet. He also has a calf slaughtered
and throws a feast in celebration of his son’s return.
In order to run to his son, the father would have had to lift his robe and expose his undergarments. For a man of stature and mature years to do this in that particular culture was unheard of and shameful. In this situation, we see the father bearing the shame and humiliation instead of his son. In his running, the father shows the depth of his love and concern for his son—he cares about nothing else at this moment.
Note the symbolism involved in the gifts that the father presents to his son. By giving his son the best robe, he is showing the village elders and community that his son has his respect. Such a gift was common for an honored dignitary. It should also be mentioned that during this time, it was not uncommon for a son to be stoned for dishonoring and rejecting his family.
The ring that is given is no ordinary ring. It is the family signet ring. It shows that the son’s status in the family has been restored and that he has been given a position of authority once again. In regard to the sandals, slaves would walk barefoot but a son would wear sandals. It was customary to slaughter a fattened calf to celebrate a special occasion or to honor a special guest. And because the calf could feed many people, it was also common to invite the whole community to the celebration.
This story shows a father’s love and focus on how special and worthy we are of being his children—no matter what we have done or how far we have wandered. How good it is to know that there is a God who loves us so much that it doesn't matter what we have done.
He is a father who is waiting with open arms outstretched for us to return to Him and experience his love and friendship. Once under his care he will begin to tranform us into a beautiful son or daughter that reflects his glory. As this new year begins may we embrace this Heavenly Father who gave us his son to die for our sins so that we could experience the joy of knowing him personally.
So he got up and went to his father. But while he was
still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled
with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his
arms around him and kissed him. – Luke 15:20 (NIV)
Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the
only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. - John 17:3 (NIV)
CAPTION: "Photo Courtesy www.bigfoto.com." A place were you can get free photos.