“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 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.
– Luke 21-24
The son acknowledges his sin to his father. He’s not worthy to be his son.
And it’s true.
He’s not worthy. He isn’t.
We’ve looked at what he’s done before, we’ve seen that he has essentially said that he wishes his father was dead, we’ve seen that he’s abandoned his family, he’s gone and squandered his wealth and then violated the law and cultural expectations by serving pigs – an unclean animal. This son is an awful son, and not an overly wise or sensible human being.
He’s not worthy.
Just like the Tax Collectors and sinners who were listening to the story.
For once, actually, the Pharisees present were right. Jesus was meeting and eating with sinners. Who knows what they did, but this parable told by Jesus actually agrees that these people who were like the prodigal son- they were sinners and equally unworthy.
And… we too are just as unworthy.
This aspect of the parable invites us to put ourselves in the place of the prodigal son. If we’re honest, we know that we are not perfect. We are flawed and often broken and hurting people – in various different ways. The father at this point can represent to us our heavenly Father – the Lord himself.
When it comes to being spotlessly perfect as we need to be in order to be worthy of such a Holy and righteous God as we have, we are most definitely not that.
When we acknowledge our sins we have to bring ourselves before God in prayer (often only to realise that it was God by his Spirit who made us aware of our sin in the first place) and admit them to God. We have to confess them and be honest in our relationship with God.
However, far from being shamed and condemned the response is almost anticlimactic.
“But the Father said to his Servants, “Quick!.. Let’s have a feast and celebrate! For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
The son had thought, rightly, that he was not worthy to be his father’s son, but he had hoped that his father might hire him as a worker. The Father’s response is to sweep all of this aside, not even dignifying it as an offence, forgiving it through calling for a celebration!
When we repent and are in the presence of God, our sin is swept aside. It’s no longer of any consequence. Instead, God renews us with his Holy Spirit and draws us further into the freedom of our lives found in Christ.
Like the song says,
O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood!
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.
– To God Be the Glory,