After the Prodigal Son came back to his senses, he began the journey home. Here he had spent his entire inheritance on loose living and tarnished his father’s name. He most likely had a stench of the pig pen from where he was able to find his last job. Yet the Father still had a heart of love towards his son. This story is a picture of us and God. Jesus portrays the Father as someone who is eagerly waiting for his son, perhaps he is searching daily through the winding road in hope to see his son. The Scriptures tell us, “…But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:20-24).
There are five items given to prodigal son when we study this passage. The first gift was a robe. This robe was the first robe which was intended for the oldest son. This also represents our robe of righteousness. Isaiah 61:10 tells us, “I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” What a beautiful picture of what God has done for us.
Before Jesus went to the cross He was mocked with a false robe. John 19:2 says, “And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him;” What a tragic sight. The King of Kings was mocked with a false crown and robe. How can we now stand in God’s robe of righteousness? Because Jesus bought it with a high price. Because Jesus took the robe of shame and mockery that we deserved, we can freely receive His perfect robe of right standing.
The second gift that the loving father gave his son was a ring. Remember the son wanted the position of a servant. Although we do not know for sure, I believe that this was a signet ring that was given. A signet ring during this time is similar to the credit card of today. Whenever a person of high rank went to make an important document, they would take their signet ring and stamp it. When Joseph was given the rank of second in charge of Egypt, the Pharaoh gave his ring to Joseph. God today has given us as believer in Christ authority and dignity. A servant does not get the best robe or a ring on their hand. Yet because of the Cross we born again into the family of God. That ring is a picture of our sonship and authority in the kingdom of God. How wonderful!
The next gift given was sandals on his feet. This shows us where the son was at in his life; he had nothing to stand on. Remember during this time, people walked everywhere they went. For the son to be given shoes was very important because it showed how the father cared for his son’s practical needs. In the same way God cares for your needs.
I once heard of a story of a man stranded on the top of his house because of a flood. He was praying to God for help. Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.” The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.” Many others came to help him, but he had the same answer. Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!” To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”
Philippians 4:19 tells us, “19 And my God will supply [a]all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” We serve a God who has cares for even the hairs on our heads. Now this doesn’t mean that as soon as we get saved, God is going to drop twenties from heaven, but what this does is give us a glimpse into God’s heart. Paul had just received a financial gift from the church in Philippi, this verse is what he wrote them back. While they had given out, God was going to supply them. Paul was in essence saying, “Don’t look at your lack, look at God’s supply.” How rich is God in glory? His supply of glory never runs dry. Does this mean that when we get saved money drops from the sky? No, but it does mean that God is always giving us ways and paths to provide for our needs.
The fourth gift given to the Prodigal Son was food. In fact, it was the fattened calf. This was so rare the later in the story the older son became jealous and angry that the father had never killed a fattened calf for him. This entire story is a picture of God and us. Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Isaiah 53:7 tells us, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.” Christ was not killed. If he wanted to, He could have sent legions of angels to protect Him. Instead He willingly laid down His life for our sake.
The final gift given to the son and that a celebration. Notice that they have the calf killed before the celebration. This is a picture of Jesus on the cross. Now because he died that we may live, we can celebrate this restored relationship with God. There is a celebration when we remember the cross. I love that last part, “And they began to celebrate.” I can see all the angels in Heaven giving each other high five as they hear about someone who gives their life to Jesus. Although I’ve never been in Heaven this gives us a glimpse into what it will be like, a celebration.