A FATHERS LOVE
By Dr. Jack Hayford
Senior Pastor of The Church On The Way
Van Nuy, CA 91405
God Loves Us
In Luke 15, in the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus paints a
magnificent picture of what Father God is really like. He tells of a young
man who wasted everything–his inheritance, his opportunities, and his
father’s trust, and ended up working in a pigpen. He shows us that,
irrespective of how we may have wasted opportunities, and no matter
how far we have fallen, the arms of God are still open, reaching out in
In this story, Jesus gives us a foundation for personal confidence in
our living and in our praying. He profoundly displays the heart of God
toward us in five essential phrases from the text. The first notes God’s
unrelenting quest for us.
Note how the father saw his son when he was still “a great way off.”
Here we see a perfect picture of the longing heart of God. As Jesus
describes the father watching for his son, the great, yearning desire of
God for man–for you and me–is clearly disclosed. God is looking
toward us and watching for us, even when we are far from Him.
God Receives Us
That beautiful opening truth is confirmed by our second observation.
While the father’s son was still a distance away, he saw him in the
distance and “had compassion and ran and fell on his neck and kissed
him” (vs. 20).
Think of the reluctance that son must have felt as he drew nearer
home. He was doubtless uneasy about his return and feeling unworthy.
He knew he had squandered his resources, nearly lost his life, and
wasted his inheritance. He had every reason to doubt his acceptability.
But Jesus describes God’s open heart toward us, showing how the father
welcomed him. The verb tense used in “he kissed him” literally means,
“he kissed him repeatedly.” There was no reservation in this welcome. It
was as though a brand new son was being born all over again! “This my
son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” (vs. 24).
God Restores Us
After this loving reception, a number of significant things took place;
each in succession. First, the father called for “the best robe” to be put
on his son. The particular style of robe was full-length; in those days,
this kind of garment was reserved for those in positions of honor and
prestige. It is clear that this fallen son was being welcomed back to his
former position as heir in the family. He was being returned to the full
privileges of relationship with his father, even though he had wasted his
These words of Jesus further display God’s heart, for He not only
receives us as forgiven sons, but restores us from the loss of our past.
Although we may have abandoned the life-gifts He has given, He
welcomes us back with loving embrace, intent on bringing us to our high
destiny in His eternal purposes.
God Authorizes Us
Then the father “put a ring on his hand.”
Those who heard this would have instantly understood its
significance, though it might escape us. In that culture, the ring
signified more than reinstatement of the son’s position in the family.
It also indicated his full return to partnership with his father in the
family business. The ring gave him the right to exercise authority in
commercial or legal matters.
In those days, documents were endorsed by the signet, or “family
insignia” on the clan’s special ring. It represented the full weight of the
authority or power invested in that family name.
Thus, in calling us to pray “Our Father” (Matt. 6:9), Jesus offers to
authorize us as God’s partners. Our prayer in the Family Name–Jesus–
is authoritative prayer, and that Name is given to us fully and freely, with
all the rights and privileges granted us as members of His eternal
God Rejoices Over Us
“…And (he put) sandals on his feet.”
The shoes placed on the son’s feet were more than mere clothing. Old
Testament imagery teaches that people in mourning or grief commonly
removed their shoes as a symbol of their sorrow. As the father placed
the shoes on his boy’s feet, he was making an announcement to his
son: “The time of mourning is over! The time of rejoicing has come!”
Through the story of the prodigal son, Jesus would have us clearly
perceive our standing before God; welcomed to a place of confidence
through forgiveness in Christ. Our Father God offers us an authoritative
“right to be sons” (John 1:12), to function in partnership with Him in
extending His dominion over all that resists His purposes on earth.
Whether we fight the powers of hell or the weakness of our own flesh,
joined with Him, our eventual victory is a valid expectation.
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(c) Copyright 1995, Jack W. Hayford, Living Way Ministries, Van Nuys,
CA 91405. Used by permission.
If you would like to reproduce or utilize this article in any way, please
comply with the following steps:
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(2) When you reprint the article, type the appropriate copyright
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Way Ministries, Van Nuys, CA 91405. Used by permission.
(3) Mail a completed copy of the entire work in which the article
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The Church On The Way / Phone: 818-779-8000