No Place Like Home
For the past few weeks, my church has been unpacking the Prodigal Son. This past week, we wrapped up by describing the significance behind the robe, the ring and the sandals that the father gives to his young son upon his return. I was really hoping to share the video that was played before our message, but I can’t seem to find it on the internet – Chris Tomlin’s Come Home Running. The videos I did find just didn’t do it justice, but I also found Casting Crown’s Prodigal (click below).

Nearly everyone knows the story of the prodigal son…mostly because we can all find ourselves somewhere in the story. Did you find your place in the story? I found myself in several parts of the story: once as the son, often as the older brother…and imagining myself as the father. Speaking of which…it’s funny to imagine myself as the father in this story. As much as I’d like to believe that I would open my arms wide open and consume my returned son with kisses…the reality is that I’m much more likely to embrace my son with some terms and conditions – as if he’s on probation. We’re so fortunate and blessed that God doesn’t do that to us. 

Back to the story…in Luke 15:22, the son has returned. You may recall that he no longer feels worth to be called his father’s son, “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.” I didn’t initially think much of these elements, but apparently they have significant meaning. 

  • The Robe: As we might imagine, the son probably smelled a bit…I mean, he was hanging out in a pig stye. Even if we consider the “experience” the son might have gone through in modern time, he was still looking rather rough. It makes sense that he would need a shower and some clean clothes. However, the significance of the robe has less to do with being physically dressed and more to do with being spiritually dressed. Isaiah 61:10 says, “for he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness.” 
    • This robe is symbolic of being wrapped in God’s righteousness (not our own self-righteousness as we discussed last week). It’s further described in Colossians 3:12 by saying, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Each day, we choose to wear this robe or not. 

  • The Ring. To be honest with you, I don’t fully understand this part of the scripture, but I gather that the ring is symbolic of God’s authority. In Matthew 21:23-31, Jesus is approached by the chief priests and elders. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” He responds by telling them a story of two sons who are asked by their father to work in the vineyard. The first son says no, and then later does what he is asked while the second son says yes but does nothing. What we learn through this story is that authority is granted by obeying the father. 
    • Why does that matter? Well…with authority comes power and with power, we are better prepared to fight off Satan. Remember a couple of weeks ago when we talked about closing doors that would allow Satan to come into our lives (click HERE)? The message is roughly the same…if we are 100% obedient, then Satan doesn’t have a leg to stand on, but if we bend the rules even a little…he has power over us. Once again, we choose whether or not we want to wear the ring every day.

  • The Shoes (aka sandals). Finally, the father gives his son a pair of shoes. Sandals were a sign of your rights. [Once again, this goes into scripture territory that I don’t fully understand, but for purposes of re-studying our lesson, I’ll share my notes.] 
    • The story of Boaz and Ruth describes a situation in which Ruth has become a widow. In that time, there was something called the Kinsman/Guardian Redeemer Law that granted the next of kin to marry the widow (in this case Ruth). Boaz was not next in line, but behind the Guardian Redeemer. However, he really wanted to marry Ruth so he goes to the Guardian Redeemer and basically asks if he’s going to step up to the plate. That guy says no, so Boaz asks if he can move ahead…to which his wish is granted. So in Ruth 4:7 it says, “Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.” In this case, the Guardian Redeemer takes off his sandal and gives it to Boaz. Point being, he removed his “rights.” Did you follow me? 
    • With all that said, these sandals are more than just a fashion statement…they give us freedom, confidence, protection…and yes, they do complete the outfit. We just have to wear them! Ephesisans 6:13-15 says, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
Duke Chapel Doors RS There really is no place like home…especially when we know that a clean robe, ring and pair of shoes are waiting for us. But we have to walk through the door first.
(If you’re interested in hearing the original message, click HERE.)