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Hope When You Come to the End of Yourself:: 3



Jesus’ audience did not anticipate the twist in the plot. They had no way of predicting the kind of reception the prodigal would receive from his father. Jesus’ portrayal of the prodigal’s father was significantly different than their understanding of Jewish fatherhood. The prodigal’s father had been looking for him, and when he saw him he ran–something no Jewish father would have done. When he caught up with him he embraced him and kissed him.

As the prodigal began his rehearsed speech the father began to give instructions to his servants. He told them to bring four important things.

The first item the prodigal was handed was a robe. The robe would have been more than a fresh change of clothes. According to Numbers 15:37-40, the robes that they wore were adorned with tassels that would remind the wearer to “remember to obey all the commands of the Lord instead of following their own desires.” When he was given the robe, the prodigal got his faith back.

The second item the father instructed to be given was the ring. The signet ring was used to imprint was seals on financial documents. When the prodigal received the ring he was given his fortune back.

The prodigal was then given shoes. In first century culture, only family members wore shoes. Servants went barefoot. When he was provided shoes the prodigal got his family back.

The final item the father had the servants produce was the fatted calf. In Jewish culture, when one person offended another person the offended party would say, “let’s have fatted calf.” Having fatted calf was an act of reconciliation where the offended party pledged to never speak of the offense again or allow anyone to take up his offense. It was a gesture of grace and forgiveness. When the fatted calf was brought out, the prodigal got his father back.

The father didn’t use words to express forgiveness. He demonstrated forgiveness. He behaved in a forgiving way. Jesus told this story to communicate what our heavenly father is like. He’s not a father like we’ve ever known. He loves, he looks, and he runs to us when we take the first step home. You may feel like you’re in the far country. You may even feel as though your life is so far removed from God that you can’t come home. Nothing is farther from the truth. The father is waiting and watching.

Categories : Hope

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