One of the reasons to study the book of Romans is to understand the instructions that touch on the main truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For the last few weeks, the doctrine and concepts of righteousness (which is key to man’s relationship to God), the attainment of it, by faith and not by works, the origin of sin and its effects, the condemnation and redemption of transgression, etc were explained clearly by our various speakers.
Recently, I picked up a book by John MacArthur, entitled “A Tale of Two Sons”. I am two-thirds through the book, which centres on Luke 15:11-32. One verse that reflects the great generosity of the prodigal son’s father is Luke 15:22 – But the father said to his slaves; “Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet”. The three gifts have great implications and they remind me of the reinstatement of the prodigal son’s status.
The sandals seemed to be the least of value, but on the contrary, they were a gift of “sonship”. During those times, employed servants and household slaves customarily went barefoot. Only masters and their sons wore footwear. So the sandals actually signify the prodigal son’s full and immediate restoration and reinstatement as a privileged son. Notwithstanding of the lowliness of stature that came upon him because of past wrongs and his wilfulness. The father’s acceptance of the prodigal son is immediate and complete. Surely, we can identify with this as we also see the full redemption from God as He generously give the “gift in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
The best robe given was of even higher honour. Again in the culture of their time, a nobleman would have owned an expensive, embroidered, highest quality fabric robe. It would be one to be reserved for special occasions like his own children’s weddings or equivalent occasions. In our time now, it may be an expensive tuxedo or coat. The Greek expression in Luke 5:22 literally means “first ranking garment”. Hence, we could see that the father was publicly honouring his son’s return not only as a guest of honour but also as a person of the utmost distinction. It was a gift of honor!
I was much encouraged by this chapter as it showed me the immense love that the father had bestowed upon his once prodigal son. Similarly, I am eternally grateful that God had also given me an excellent and unspeakable gift in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For an understanding of John MacArthur’s third gift item – the ring, I would like to recommend that you read about them in the book which is available in our BC Emmaus Library.
Elder Andrew Lim