Can you imagine how the boy must have felt? Approaching home, smelling of pigs, his father runs to him, embraces him and kisses him. He then tells his servants to do two things: Get the robe reserved for honored guests and, second, to get the family ring and put it on his finger. Both were undeserved.
Again, the full story is in Luke 15 in your Bible.
As we saw in my last blog, the robe symbolizes the boy was forgiven by his father. It was his dad’s way of saying, ‘I’m wiping the slate clean.’ But the ring symbolizes something different, something extra.
This was the family signet ring. It signifies the child’s position as a son or daughter. Not only did it signify position, it signified power and authority. In giving the ring, the father is saying, ‘you are restored to the position as my son, with all its rights and privileges’. There were no conditions attached to the gift. It was a gift; completely undeserved and 100% free. What a picture! What a father!
Not only is this father a forgiving father, he is also a giving father. First, he forgives, then he gives. And there is a message in what he gives. The ring signifies something far more precious than material possession. It signifies ACCEPTANCE.
The father accepts his son JUST AS HE IS and he accepts him back into the family. Remember, this is a story Jesus told to explain to us what His Father [our Father] is like. Your Father will do the same for you as the father in the story does for his boy. The boy expected nothing but got everything. Not just a pardon but restored as a son!
I believe this is very important for our understanding of God. Jesus was telling us truths about the character of God in the story of the lost and returning boy. The father is the true focus of the story. The father is the real hero. And he is a window into the heart of God.
I’m convinced this ring carries as much importance as the robe. It is not in this story by accident. If we stop at the robe and neglect the ring, we are going to sell ourselves short. It is so important for you to see this. Not only did the boy have his sins forgiven, he also had his position restored. The robe said, ‘you are forgiven’. The ring said, ‘you are accepted’. We need the ring as well as the robe.
We Need the Ring as Well as the Robe
The sad fact is that many people become Christians but they fall short of receiving the fullness of what the Father has for them. You can tell them by their language. Calling themselves ‘a sinner saved by grace’ or ‘I’m disgusting and always will be’. That is not who you are any longer.
Many Christians I have met over the years have come to the cross for God’s pardon, but they have never gone one step further to enjoy their new position as sons and daughters. They know God as a Judge, but not as a dad.
It is quite amazing how many Christians have stopped short. I believe the consequences of this have been massive. Without understanding God a Father, we will only see Him as a judge. We will have a picture of a court room instead of a living room. And this does our Father a huge disservice.
There is also a relational side. Not only is God a perfect judge, whose justice is always pure and true, He is also the perfect Father, whose love is free and enduring. To see Him only as a judge is misleading. We also need to know we are adopted as well as forgiven.
That’s what many of us need today. We need to know God as ‘daddy’ not just a ‘judge’. We need to come out of the court room and into the living room. We need the ring as well as the robe.
I received my robe in 1995 but it was another 10 years before I was aware I also received a ring that day. In 2005 I had a huge revelation of God as Father and it changed my life forever.
It was also in 2005 when my wife and I planted our first church. Despite doing everything we knew how to do to grow a church it was forced to close at the end of 2009. I admitted to the church family that I was finding it very difficult having to close. That, while I knew I had both the robe [forgiveness] and the ring [acceptance as His child] it didn’t feel very much like it right now.
On Christmas morning, my wife gave me my gift along with a note. The note said Father had instructed her to give me this gift. When I open the box, I found a ring and another note. The ring had a small diamond in it and my initial. The note said that Father told her to put the diamond there to remind Mike that he is precious to me and the initial to make it personal. On the back of the ring was inscribed, ‘son’.
This ring means the world to me. Father cared enough to give it to me to remind me that, despite current difficult times, I am still His son and always will be. I still go through hard times and there are times I doubt my son-ship, but then I look at the ring on my finger and I remember His promise. ‘You are my son and you always will be. I love you Mike.’
Oh yes, we need the ring as well as the robe.
And it’s available to you today, if you will just head home. Hear the words of your perfect Father, ‘I don’t care where you are, I don’t care what you have done or what you have become. I love you. Please come home.’
Your robe and ring are waiting.