Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Robe, The Ring, and The Sandals



“But the father said to his servants, ‘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 fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.” – Luke 15:22-24

Being the mother of son who spent the last two years living away from home, I know how it feels to wonder about your child’s welfare. I know the worry of all the questions that would come in the early morning hours. Is he healthy? Is he eating right? Is he cold? Does he have clean clothes? Are his friends the right group of people? These are the things that occupy a mother’s head. It’s not that my son has caused such worry, it’s simply love.

I guess that’s why the story of the Prodigal Son, as told in Luke 15, is one that always speaks to my heart. I can imagine how the father felt those years waiting for his son to return home and waiting for him to “come to himself”. I can imagine him hearing sounds coming down the road the first few months and running out the door thinking maybe, just maybe, his son was coming home. Then I can imagine that one day life just continued on without the father running to the door, but with some sadness.

But then on that day when the son “came to himself” and realized his state of affairs, he realized who truly loved him and returned home. And yes, his father ran out of the house to meet him with open arms. Hollywood could not create a scene so touching!

Of course, this story is an analogy of one coming to Christ and receiving him through faith. Some call it salvation, some call it conversion, and some don’t know what to call it. But what it’s called isn’t half as important as what creates it. It’s an admission of whom you are, “coming to yourself”, and that you aren’t who you should be. It’s then a trust, faith, that God does love you enough to intervene for you, to save you from yourself. And once that faith is born, it is realized in the renewal of your identity. It’s an understanding that you are not who you were, but that you are a child of God.

There were three gifts given to the son that day, and they’re all meaningful, and give insight to the gifts given to the children of God when He receives us as His children.

First, he was given a robe - a covering. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve lived the carefree life before sin, and did it completely naked. Stark naked! There was no shame because there was no understanding of right, wrong, or not living up to an expectation of what they should be. But once they committed the sin of not obeying God, one we’ve all committed, they realized their nakedness and covered themselves with leaves. The leaves hid their nakedness.

The robe given to the son represented the salvation received from Christ. It is His righteousness, His perfection that covers our sins. We’re no longer subjects of shame or guilt. Because we accept Christ as our savior, He does just that. He saves us from ourselves.

“For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,” – Isaiah 61:10

The second gift the prodigal son was given was a ring. The ring was a symbol of identity. Often a signet ring would be used with wax to mark a document as having been written by the one owning the signet ring. When we come to Christ, we do receive an identity. We are no longer children of flesh and blood, but children of God, through the gift of the Holy Spirit that connects us to Him.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name…” – John 1:12

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” – Romans 8:16


The last gift he was given was the one I found most intriguing. He received sandals for his feet. To understand the meaning of the sandals we have to go back to verse 15, where it says the prodigal son “joined himself to a citizen of that country”. To “join himself” meant to be taken into slavery. Once a slave, his sandals would be taken from him to prevent him from running away.

When we are living without God we are slaves. Why? Because there really is no freedom found without Him. Living without Christ as your savior means that you are living on your own merits – under the condemnation you bring upon yourself through sin. There’s no freedom in following sin. That road leads to death.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

Have you ever read the Ten Commandments? They weren’t written for the purification of people, but to show us where we fail. They’re a mirror of our guilt in sin. No one can keep all of the Ten Commandments. No one ever has, and no one ever will – except Christ. This is why there’s no freedom without Him. You’re condemned to the life you have. You have no way to free yourself from the bondage of sin, which leads to death. But when Christ comes, when you accept Him as your savior, His righteousness becomes your righteousness in the sight of God. You become an heir to all that Christ owns as a child of God. You’re not just a slave being taken care of, but a child of God.


“Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” – John 8:34-36


There’s just one more thing about the sandals. Do you know why the child of God can wear the sandals? Because once you’ve found Christ, and understand the joy that comes through knowing him, there is no struggle, no war of wills, no shame, no guilt, and no inner turmoil. There is love without condemnation. You’re content to stay with Him, to live in that love, and not run away.

For someone living without Him, what I just said is a mystery. There is no way to fully understand the joy of knowing someone who doesn’t reside physically on this planet until you’ve experienced the joy of knowing Him who lives spiritually within you. And that is what makes it so hard to explain to someone who is without Christ why they should be saved. That is why Jesus says in John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” When God draws you to Himself, then you will understand. Friends, I pray that understanding has or will come your way. There is freedom in Christ, sweet freedom!

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