Susie: This is part 2 of 3 on the parable of the “Prodigal Son” and his “Forgiving Father.” It is the third parable Jesus told about the Father’s eagerness to forgive repentant sinners. As with the son in the story, to be outside the family (in our case, God’s family) is to feel intense loneliness, completely without help.
The IVP New Testament Commentary Series
The parable is Jesus' final defense of the offer of good news in the face of official criticism of his association with sinners.
Luke 15:20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
Susie: The son followed through with the plan we saw in the last lesson. He returned home intending to beg for a job as his father’s servant.
Susan: His father had been praying and pining, longing for his son and watched the road each day, pregnant with expectation.
Susie: Since the father was checking the horizon for the figure of his son, he saw him while he was still a distance from home. He must have looked pitifully poor because even from that distance, his appearance provoked compassion from his father.
Susan: The father abandoned all cultural protocol, picked up his long garment and ran with joyful abandon to embrace his son. He gave his son the greatest expression of tender endearment, a kiss on the cheek.
Susie: Our heavenly Father is ready to receive us with joy when we realize our inability to approach Him on our own merit because of our sinful nature.
MacArthur Study Bible
From Gen. 3:8 to Rev. 22:17, from the fall to the consummation, God has been and will be seeking to save sinners, and rejoicing each time one repents and is converted.
Luke 15:21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
Susie: The son begins his rehearsed speech of repentance by admitting that his sin is both against God and in the sight of his father. He proclaims the truth that he has forfeited any right to claim sonship in his father’s household.
Susan: While the son proceeds to give his well-practiced, humble speech, the father abruptly interrupts.
Luke 15:22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
Susan: The father was eager to get to the restoration celebration. He turned to the servants and gave three commands.
Susie: The father treated the son as an honored guest rather than an ornery, rebellious teenager by telling the servants to adorn him with the best robe.
Susan: The robe may symbolize that God the Father replaces the swiss cheese of the sinner’s filthy rags with the righteousness of Christ.
Susie: Like the son in the story, we do not deserve the best robe. We have earned our rags with sinful living; but when we turn to Him in humility, the Lord God imputes the righteousness of His own Son to us, covering our sin.
Susan: We do not deserve to wear the robe of Jesus’s righteousness. It is a free gift given to us when, like the prodigal son, we come to our senses and realize our lostness, our sinfulness, our unworthiness, and our complete separation from the Father, the source of our salvation.
Susie: The father did not rebuke the son or call for him to be punished in any way. Instead, he immediately implemented steps to restore him to his rights as a son.
Susan: The ring, probably a signet ring, restored his authority as a family member.
The ring represents: authority and total restoration. It was like the family credit card.
Susan: Like a Sam’s™ or Costco™ card, one had to be member of a family to wear the signet ring that allowed him to make transactions on the family’s behalf.
Susie: The father also instructed the slaves to bring his son a pair of sandals. Slaves or servants did not wear shoes. Therefore, sandals represented his restoration to sonship as well. The armor of the Lord written about by the Apostle Paul included shoes:
Ephesians 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace . . .
Luke 15:23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
Susie: The choicest calf that had been fattened up would be reserved for a sacrifice or an exceptionally special celebration feast.
Susan: In Texas speak, the father says, “Y’all bring me the prime rib. I’m throwin’ a banquet for my boy!”
Susie: Once again, Jesus tells of a celebration of a joy that must be shared.
Luke 15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Susan: What exactly were they celebrating? The father had no idea where his son had traveled and no way to communicate that he was safe, so it was as if he were dead.
Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Susie: The father is elated to have his son home safe and sound once more.
Susan: I think the father may have been telling the family all along that he knew his son and believed he would come to his senses and return home again. He hoped against all hope, and eagerly anticipated the return of his son.
Susie: Therefore, following the father’s lead, they all began to celebrate. That is, all but one as we shall see in the next lesson.