The servants were also told to put a ring on the son’s hand. This is a picture of our being sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13; 4:30). The ring is like the Holy Spirit, given to us as a guarantee that we are the Father’s possession.
The shoes put on the returning son’s feet are not the same as those referred to in Ephesians 6:15. In Ephesians the shoes are for standing and withstanding in battle, but in Luke 15 the shoes are for walking, for protecting the feet from the dust, dirt, and mud that come from contact with this earth.
THE FATTED CALF
Do you think the son was satisfied with the best robe, the ring, and the shoes? Surely he appreciated looking so fine, but he had not returned home to replace his shabby clothes. Rather, it was because of his desperate hunger that his thoughts had turned homeward, and he had said, “How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father” (Luke 15:17-18). No outward apparel could fill his empty stomach. How glad he must have been to hear his father add, “And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry” (v. 23)! The father was not content either, until they could eat together and rejoice.
God’s salvation is not only a matter of wearing but also of eating. Whatever kind of raiment we put on and however many times we wash ourselves, our inner being is not changed.
The fatted calf was not for wearing but for eating! Eating is the taking of something which is outside of you into you and then digesting it so that it becomes organically part of you. If you swallow a pearl, you cannot claim to have eaten it, because it cannot be digested by your body. The fatted calf, in contrast, can be eaten. It can be taken into your being and then assimilated by the body. The result is a metabolic change in you. What you eat changes you organically and metabolically. The terms transformation, renewing, and sanctification refer to this change, which comes about not by improving your outward appearance but by taking in the food the Father has provided.
A PICTURE OF GOD’S ECONOMY
Too many Christians do not realize how important their spiritual food is. Some seek the Lord for salvation or help in trouble. Their concept is to pray day and night until suddenly a miraculous experience befalls them. Then they expect a marvelous change. To hold such a thought is to be ignorant of God’s economy, which is pictured for us so vividly in this parable.
Christ’s death on the cross accomplished a threefold objective: the forgiveness of sins, the termination of the old man, and the release of the divine life. In resurrection He became the life-giving Spirit. When we heard the gospel, repented, and believed in Him, He, based upon His redemption and through the cleansing of His blood, entered into us as the life-giving Spirit. His righteousness covered us, qualifying us to be justified by God. The Spirit sealed us as God’s possession. The gospel separated us from the world. But, besides the robe, the ring, and the shoes, there is a fatted calf for us to enjoy!
Romans 10:6-10 reminds us that we can find Christ, not in heaven or in the abyss, but nearby, in our mouth and in our heart. By confessing with our mouth, “Lord Jesus,” we are saved. To open our mouth and pray in this way is to eat and be saved.
(Life Messages, Vol. 1 (#1-41), Chapter 29, by Witness Lee)