When the wayward son returned home to his father, the ring of authority was placed on his finger. This ring restored the son’s dignity. He once again had the rights as a member of the family. Notice what John 1:12-13 says about our rights as sons:
As a son, we have received rights in the Kingdom of God and authority on the earth through our sonship.
When the son returned, he came as a barefooted slave. But the father removed this slave attitude and put shoes on his feet. He was not an outcast any longer. He was a son once again. He was not looked down on as a rebel, he was received and restored.
And now it was time to celebrate! The prodigal father had a calf already fattened and they began to be merry. When the son had gone into the far country, the Bible says, he began to be in want. But when he returned home he could be merry.
The far country in this story is the realm of rebellion. It is a condition of the soul, a way of thinking that cuts off fellowship with God. Setting aside God’s desire and goals will bring us to the place of want. But when we return to our Father we will receive:
What an extravagant blessing this father gave his son!
In the book The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah,2 Alfred Edersheim states that there is an absolute contrast between this teaching of Christ and one of the oldest rabbinic works. This rabbinic parable is exactly the opposite of the one in the Bible. In the rabbinic parable, the son of a friend is redeemed from bondage, not as a son, but to be a slave so that obedience might be demanded of him.
God is not looking for stone-cold obedience, but rather, a warm companionship. Through fellowship with God a desire will rise up within us to do the things that are pleasing in His eyes.
The prodigal father saw something beyond his right to demand obedience. He recognized the great potential which remained in his son. He wanted his son’s potential developed, and he wanted his son restored.
Whenever we turn to God, we will find Him looking, longing, and waiting for our return. God is ready to restore us and lift us to our potential.
Acts 20:32 says, “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
It is the Word of His grace which lifts us. It builds our lives and reveals our potential in Him. The grace of God which is freely given to us will bring us into new levels of our inheritance, for we have received an inheritance.
2 Edersheim, Alfred, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, 1972, William B. Eedermans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan.