Have you had a family member or friend that left town for several months and returned? Have you left town for several months and returned? Was there a party thrown or were people happy to see the person who left and returned?
There are many reasons for people to leave town. Students go off to college. Some go to military boot camp. Others move for a job. Still others may go on mission trips to other countries. All of these people may be gone for a few months or several years.
Let’s consider our children for just a moment. When they go off to boot camp for a few months, we celebrate their return. We celebrate their accomplishment, the change in them, and the mere fact we get to see them for a few days knowing they will leave again. If the child goes off to college, we may see them more often—some freshmen return home nearly every weekend. Yet, it is no less joyous to see them and catch up on how their classes have been going.
When our children go to take on new challenges and are successful, those celebrations—even if it’s just their favorite meal—are happy moments. But what if your child left in a selfish manner and lost everything they had? It might be a little different reaction on our part.
In today’s passage, we see the reaction of the father whose son had been selfish, thought highly of himself, failed miserably, and returned. Notice the father didn’t berate him for his failure. No, he told his servants to cook the finest meal to celebrate his sons’ return.
The father’s reaction in this parable represents God’s reaction when a lost soul returns. He celebrates with a light heart, welcoming the lost into his house. Not only was a choice meal prepared, but the father had his son dressed in the best clothing and put a ring on his finger. The ring is key. Though clothing may be changed, the ring signified the family the son belonged to. Often the ring was used to seal official documents. It meant the son was a member of the family and could make purchases on behalf of the family.
God has celebrated over each of us who have come to Him. He has empowered us to be His representatives. He dresses us in the finest robes, if not in this life, in eternity. We are called brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. We simply need to remember we are part of God’s family.
I pray we all celebrate when a lost soul comes home. I pray we accept the robe and ring from God. I pray each of us go into the world as God’s representative. Celebrate with God. Be joyous when a lost soul returns. Accept God’s gifts. Be His representative.
Luke 15:23-24 “‘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.”