What is Grace?
Not many see themselves as the prodigal son, but for a minute, suspend all your beliefs and put yourself in his shoes.
Imagine that you are the son of a wealthy and just man. You have everything at your beck and call, but then you just have to have your inheritance now. Never mind that your father, who provides you everything that you have, is still alive. So you go to your father and ask for it. Your father, instead of telling you exactly what you are — ungrateful, rude, walang hiya, just hands it to you.
Then you go off into the world, hire prostitutes, go partying, squander his money, and live it up.
But then a famine arises in the country you are in. You are penniless, and all your fair weather friends have left you. You decide to work and find it in someone else’s estate. You are sent to feed the owner’s pigs, animals that your Jewish culture considers not just physically dirty, but spiritually unclean. (Your father’s Jewish servants don’t even eat these filthy animals; they’re only for the Gentiles). You are given nothing to eat, and you long for the pods that are provided for the pigs.
Then you say to yourself, my father’s servants have it better. I am dying, but they eat better food, and they are treated kindly, because my father is an upright man. You come to your senses. “I will arise.” You even rehearse what you want to tell your father –
Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants. (Luke 15:18-19)
So you arise and go back to your own country. Your father, a dignified man, sees you in the distance and runs to you who tantamount declared him dead, embraces you who have defiled yourself with worldly pleasures and the spiritually unclean, thereby defiling himself in the process, and kisses you. You proceed to tell him what you rehearsed –
Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.
But before you could complete your speech, your father tells his servants,
Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him,and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.
Just ponder the significance of your father’s actions which systematically restore what you squandered.
“Quick! Bring the best robe” – the best robe in your culture is reserved for an honored dignitary. This is the signal to the village elders to treat you with respect. (You definitely are aware that you do not deserve it)
“Put a ring on his finger.” This is not any ring but the family signet ring that says that you have been restored to a position of authority within the family. (Remember that you practically considered your father dead, yet your father knows that you were the one who died.)
“Put sandals/shoes on his feet” Slaves are barefoot, but a son (you) wears sandals. (Remember that when you wanted to come back to your father’s house, you did not consider yourself worthy to be called his son.)
“Bring the fattened calf and kill it” Meat in your culture is a rare delicacy. The fattened calf is a grain-fed animal raised for the specific purpose of celebrating the presence of an honored guest. It is a signal that the whole community is invited because it can feed over one hundred people. (Remember that you have shamed your father’s name and have come into contact with the unclean.)
Your fathers acts are undeserved by you. Such is the love of God the father for his children. Grace is a gift freely given to undeserving, wretched, ungrateful, spiritually unclean, prostitute-hiring, walang hiya, dead sons like you.