When reading Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15, I don’t know who to feel worse for: the younger son who wasted his inheritance or the older son who never even recognized his inheritance.
It pains me to see so many believers who have grown up in the faith live as spiritual orphans and beggars because they never step into the fullness of their relationship with God. They relate to Him (if they even relate to Him at all) as a casual outsider rather than a royal son or daughter, and most of the time they are bored, bitter and frustrated with where they are in life. It’s like being given a billion dollar check that we never cash because we don’t know that we actually have it. Tragic, I know.
Although this story has been called the “The Parable of the Prodigal Son,” I believe it is really about a father who had lost his “two” sons. Jesus painted a picture of a coldhearted sinner who comes to repentance when he realizes what he forfeited when he left his father’s house (Lk. 15:17), and a lukewarm believer who is so wrapped up in dead religion that he doesn’t even see what has already been given to him. Many of us miss the fact that the father not only responded to son who ran away and returned, but also the son who was always there but never came inside.
Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. (Lk. 15:28)
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Rev. 3:20)
The older son would say, “Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat that I might make merry with my friends” (Lk. 15:29).
In essence he was saying to his father, “I’ve been a good church kid all my life, but still you never gave me what I wanted!” His service to his father was motivated only by obligation and outward recognition. Oh how wretched we are to ignore so great a gift like God’s grace, being blinded by our pride and selfishness! Like much of the religious crowd in that day, this older son was so concerned with the wrong things that he lost sight of right things.
Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. (Lk. 15:31)
Our Father has made these things freely available to all who will come to Him:
The Best Robe (v. 22):
He has provided us with a righteousness that can never be improved upon. He offers the best robe to all who are willing to take off (repent) their own righteousness which is as filthy rags and put on His. We now stand before Him justified (“just-as-if-we’ve-never-sinned”).
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Cor. 5:17).
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2. Cor. 5:21).
The Ring (v. 22):
He gives us His own signet ring which represents our authority and adoption as royal heirs of His kingdom. As ambassadors, we have authority to use His name, to heal the sick, cast out demons, and walk in victory over sin. We now have legal access to step behind the veil and into His presence.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children then heirs (Rom. 8:14-17)
The Sandals (v. 22):
He gives us new destiny and purpose in Him. While we used to be His enemies rightfully on our way to hell, we are now given hope for an eternal future with Him. He wants to wash our feet (which can also represent our past) and invite us to partner with Him to bring this good news to all who will hear it!
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation…(Isa. 52:7; Rom 10:15)
Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace…(Eph. 6:15)
The Fatted Calf (v. 23):
He invites all who are willing to the great wedding supper of the Lamb to celebrate His victory on the cross and our new life with Him, providing us with lasting satisfaction and joy that doesn’t fade away.
Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready….Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! (Rev. 19:7,9)
In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Ps. 16:11)
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. (Ps. 36:8)
We were once dead, and now alive again. We were once lost, but now we are found (Lk. 15:32).
Christ’s incarnation into humanity, life on the earth, death on the cross, resurrection from the grave and ascension up to heaven provided us so much more than just a way OUT of hell, but a way INTO an eternally rich and satisfying relationship with God (Jn. 17:3; Heb. 10:19-23).
Hear Him pleading with you today, “Come Inside!”