The best robe - The son was probably in rags. The joy of the father is expressed by clothing him in the best raiment, that he might appear well. The “robe” here mentioned is probably the outer garment; and the father told them to put on him the best one that was in the house - one reserved for festival occasions. See Genesis 27:15.
A ring on his hand - To wear a ring on the hand was one mark of wealth and dignity. The rich and those in office commonly wore them. Compare James 2:2. To “give” a ring was a mark of favor, or of affection, or of conferring office. Compare Genesis 41:42; Esther 8:2. Here it was expressive of the “favor” and affection of the father.
Shoes on his feet - Servants, probably, did not usually wear shoes. The son returned, doubtless, without shoes a condition very unlike that in which he was when he left home. When, therefore, the father commanded them to put shoes on him, it expressed his wish that he should not be treated “as a servant,” but “as a son.” The word “shoes” here, however, means no more than “sandals,” such as were commonly worn. And the meaning of all these images is the same - “that God will treat those who return to him with kindness and affection.” These images should not be attempted to be “spiritualized.” They are beautifully thrown in to fill up the narrative, and to express with more force the “general” truth that “God” will treat returning penitents with mercy and with love. To dress up the son in this manner was a proof of the father‘s affection. So God will bestow on sinners the marks of his confidence and regard.
When the woman found the silver, she called her friends and her neighbors together, saying: “Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” If the angels of God rejoice over the erring who see and confess their wrongs and return to the fellowship of their brethren, how much more should the followers of Christ, who are themselves erring, and who every day need the forgiveness of God and of their brethren, feel joy over the return of a brother or a sister who has been deceived by the sophistry of Satan and has taken a wrong course and suffered because of it. 3T 100.1
Instead of holding the erring off, their brethren should meet them where they are. Instead of finding fault with them because they are in the dark, they should light their own lamp by obtaining more divine grace and a clearer knowledge of the Scriptures, that they may dispel the darkness of those in error by the light that they bring to them. And when they succeed, and the erring feel their error and submit to follow the light, they should be received gladly, and not with a spirit of murmuring or an effort to impress upon them their exceeding sinfulness, which had called forth extra exertion, anxiety, and wearisome labor. If the pure angels of God hail the event with joy, how much more should their brethren rejoice, who have themselves needed sympathy, love, and help when they have erred and in their darkness have not known how to help themselves. 3T 100.2Read in context »
God does not deal with us as finite men deal with one another. His thoughts are thoughts of mercy, love, and tenderest compassion. He says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins.” Isaiah 55:7; 44:22. SC 53.1
“I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” Ezekiel 18:32. Satan is ready to steal away the blessed assurances of God. He desires to take every glimmer of hope and every ray of light from the soul; but you must not permit him to do this. Do not give ear to the tempter, but say, “Jesus has died that I might live. He loves me, and wills not that I should perish. I have a compassionate heavenly Father; and although I have abused His love, though the blessings He has given me have been squandered, I will arise, and go to my Father, and say, ‘I have sinned against heaven, and before Thee, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son: make me as one of Thy hired servants.’” The parable tells you how the wanderer will be received: “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.” Luke 15:18-20. SC 53.2
But even this parable, tender and touching as it is, comes short of expressing the infinite compassion of the heavenly Father. The Lord declares by His prophet, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3. While the sinner is yet far from the Father's house, wasting his substance in a strange country, the Father's heart is yearning over him; and every longing awakened in the soul to return to God is but the tender pleading of His Spirit, wooing, entreating, drawing the wanderer to his Father's heart of love. SC 54.1Read in context »
The lesson of the prodigal is given for the instruction of youth. In his life of pleasure and sinful indulgence, he expends his portion of the inheritance in riotous living. He is friendless, and in a strange country; clad in rags, hungry, longing even for the refuse fed to the swine. His last hope is to return, penitent and humbled, to his father's house, where he is welcomed, forgiven, and taken back to a father's heart. Many youth are doing as he did, living a careless, pleasure-loving, spendthrift life, forsaking the fountain of living waters, the fountain of true pleasure, and hewing out to themselves broken cisterns, which can hold no water. MYP 408.1Read in context »
This chapter is based on Luke 15:11-32.
The parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son, bring out in distinct lines God's pitying love for those who are straying from Him. Although they have turned away from God, He does not leave them in their misery. He is full of kindness and tender pity toward all who are exposed to the temptations of the artful foe. COL 198.1Read in context »
Full of instruction were the lessons which Christ taught as He slowly made His way from Galilee toward Jerusalem. Eagerly the people listened to His words. In Perea as in Galilee the people were less under the control of Jewish bigotry than in Judea, and His teaching found a response in their hearts. DA 495.1
During these last months of His ministry, many of Christ's parables were spoken. The priests and rabbis pursued Him with ever-increasing bitterness, and His warnings to them He veiled in symbols. They could not mistake His meaning, yet they could find in His words nothing on which to ground an accusation against Him. In the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, the self-sufficient prayer, “God, I thank Thee that I am not as the rest of men,” stood out in sharp contrast to the penitent's plea, “Be merciful to me the sinner.” Luke 18:11, 13, R. V., margin. Thus Christ rebuked the hypocrisy of the Jews. And under the figures of the barren fig tree and the great supper He foretold the doom about to fall upon the impenitent nation. Those who had scornfully rejected the invitation to the gospel feast heard His warning words: “I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of My supper.” Luke 14:24. DA 495.2
Very precious was the instruction given to the disciples. The parable of the importunate widow and the friend asking for bread at midnight gave new force to His words, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Luke 11:9. And often their wavering faith was strengthened by the memory that Christ had said, “Shall not God do justice for His elect, which cry to Him day and night, and He is long-suffering over them? I say unto you, that He will do them justice speedily.” Luke 18:7, 8, R. V., margin. DA 495.3Read in context »