It’s a wonderful thing to be under the covering and protection of a good father. The son in the story Jesus told knew this very well. When he came home, his father placed him under the covering and protection of a special robe.
His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him…
The boy tries to apologize, explain himself but the father isn’t listening! He cuts the boy off and tells his servants to bring the finest robe. Remember, this is about your Father as well.
So What’s With The Robe?
It literally means a long flowing gown. It was a special garment reserved for unique occasions such as a festival. To be given this robe was a sign of favour and honour. Wow!
That the dad gave the boy this robe is very significant. The boy would have been a physical mess. It would be humiliating, even shameful for him to look this way. So, his father runs to him, embraces him and kisses him. Then he covers the boys shame with a robe of honour. The robe was the father’s way of saying, without words, ‘I have forgiven him.’
Given the robe, the boy experiences an extraordinary exchange. He receives the father’s honour and the father takes the boy’s shame. What a father indeed! What a Father indeed!
When we try to sum up what we have just seen [receiving the robe] in a single word, it’s ‘forgiveness’. Forgiveness was a frequent theme when Jesus taught. He told us His Father forgives us. He told us we were to forgive others.
Why is it so important for us to forgive those who have hurt us? Because unforgiveness causes our hearts to grow cold, bitter and resentful. Forgiving someone benefits us more than them.
In this story, we see an amazing example of forgiveness. The father had a right to be hurt and resentful but instead he gave his boy the gift of forgiveness.
Four things should be noted about the father’s forgiveness.
First, it was instant. The father simply saw his son, had compassion for him, ran to him and forgave him by putting the robe on him. The boy did not have to earn his father’s forgiveness nor have to jump over hurdles to receive it. It came immediately, unconditionally with no strings attached. So is the forgiveness of your Father when you come home.
Second, it was complete. The father did not hold back. It was total forgiveness. It was not, ‘I’m forgiving you but I’m not forgetting. Don’t screw up again.’ You just know that the father never brought this up again. That’s complete forgiveness. That’s amazing.
Third, it was sacrificial. To forgive his boy cost the father. It cost him when he let go of the son when the son rejected him. It cost him to receive him back. No one ever said it was easy to forgive those who have wounded us. Forgiveness hurts! But then again, this is amazing love.
Finally, it was restorative. This might be the most amazing aspect of all! No only did the father forgive his son, he restored the boy to the relationship he had before. Remember, the boy had hoped to be hired as a servant but father would have none of that! ‘You are my son again.’ More about that next time. ‘Welcome back, my son. It’s all good.’ Again, that’s amazing love.
Forgiving as You are Forgiven
Not only must we [get to] accept our heavenly Father’s forgiving love, we must also forgive those who have hurt us.
As we put on our new robe, we are called to be radical in our forgiving of others. Why? Because we have been forgiven so much. We must, in turn, become a people of forgiveness.
It’s the one thing that is most lacking in the world today. It seems no one is willing to forgive. We are much more interested in humiliating people, making them grovel and shaming them when they do wrong. Please know, that is not the way of your Father in Heaven. His forgiveness is instant, complete, sacrificial and restorative. Yay!
If you have been hurt by someone – a parent, partner or the church – ask God to give you the power to forgive. Release them from your bitterness and, in the process, experience your own freedom.
Forgiveness is a golden key. It sets us free from negative judgements and enables us to know the perfect Father intimately. What could be better than that?
Have you been afraid of what type of reception would await you should you turn to Jesus and come home to Father? Are you afraid that you might be beyond God’s forgiveness? Have you been told that? Put yourself in the sandals of the boy in our story. See his father running to him, kissing him and putting the robe of forgiveness around him, welcoming him home. The same awaits you.
Won’t you come home today?