When he finally came to his senses in the pigpen, the son rehearsed the speech he was going to give to his dad. He said three things in verse 21. Two of his statements were right and one of them was wrong. First he said, “I have sinned against heaven.” That was right. Primarily, all sin is against God, so he had confessed his sin to God. Second, he confessed to his father, “and I have sinned against you.” Right again. One of the hardest things for any of us to say is, “I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” That’s what he was saying. But look at the third statement. He said, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” That may sound good on the surface, but there is a mistake in his thinking. He never was worthy to be called a son of his father. Since he didn’t think he deserved to be a son, he was ready to ask his father to just make him like one of his servants. The point is, he never deserved to be a son–it was all by grace! And in the same way, none of us are ever worthy to be called a child of God–it is all by grace.
The father refused to entertain the idea his son would be a servant. You see, even when the son was in the far country, the relationship was intact; it was the fellowship that was broken. Immediately the father commanded his servants to bring the best robe. He took that beautiful robe and lovingly placed it around his son, covering all the filth and dirt of his mistakes. That’s a lovely picture of how God covers our sin with a robe of righteousness. The father put a new ring on his finger symbolizing his full status in the family. Slaves didn’t wear shoes, but sons did. So the father had sandals put on his son’s feet. The Father restored everything the son had lost! The Father said “I’ll treat you as if you never left!”
In his book, Capital of the World, Ernest Hemingway wrote about a father in Spain who had a son named Paco. Because of his son’s rebellion, Paco and his father were estranged. The father was bitter and angry with his son, and kicked him out of the home. After years of bitterness, the father’s anger ended and he realized his mistake. He began to look for Paco, with no results. Finally, in desperation, the father placed an ad in the Madrid newspaper. The ad read, “PACO, ALL IS FORGIVEN. MEET ME AT THE NEWSPAPER OFFICE AT 9AM TOMORROW. LOVE, YOUR FATHER.” Paco is a rather common name in Spain, and Hemingway wrote when the father arrived the next morning, there were 600 young men–all named Paco–waiting and hoping to receive the forgiveness of their fathers.”
Have you wandered away from God? Are you willing to say, “Father I have sinned against heaven and against you?” Are you willing to return to Him? If you are, He has a message for you. He is saying, “I’ll treat you as if you never left!”