“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. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’
So they began to celebrate.”
Here is lavish grace: unwarranted, unexpected, unparalleled.
Here is sweet forgiveness: reconciling, restoring shalom, putting things back in their proper order.
Here is salvation.
This story reveals how Jesus understands the gospel, and there are two things that stand out from the father’s words and actions.
Salvation is not forgiveness of sins for the sake of sins being forgiven. In other words, it’s not an impersonal transaction in which I receive a ticket to heaven.
Salvation for the prodigal in this story is the restored relationship with his father.
“This is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)
This restoration is complete and final; there is no second-guessing the son’s motives or being skeptical of his future faithfulness. This reconciliation flows from the father to the son; it is solely contingent on the father’s directives. The son cannot in any way make it happen, but he does need to embrace it.
The second thing to note is what is re-created by the father’s actions. The father has set right the things he allowed his son to break in the beginning of the story. The world of the father and the son is now back in order. The father is the father; the son is the son.
Again, this comes from the father and is then embraced by the son.
This is the Story of God. A broken world made right. Grace, forgiveness, and salvation. Restoration and re-creation.
Do you see yourself in this story? Do you see God? Do you see the gospel?