The Potter's Dust part 4: The Nameless Son
"He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness"
Unworthy. Unclean. Unwanted. The prodigal son of Luke 15 was treated like discarded refuse. When his transgressions are listed, the listener is compelled to grab the nearest stone.
Disobedient. Selfish. Promiscuous. Even the foul pigs he tended received more from the hand that feeds them. For the prodigal, that hand was closed.
The favored son was lost to ignominy. The disgust of Jews and the mockery of Gentiles, he was destined to die in the filth and slop of swines. Barred from God’s holy Temple, even atonement was a laughable impossibility.
In dark of the prodigal’s night, a faint glimmer of hope sparked in the his mind. He recalled the splendor and largesse of his father’s house. Even the hired hands ate to fulness. Compared to the pig stench he lived in now, the lowest rank in his father’s estate would feel palatial. The downtrodden son mustered his flickering courage and set out for home.
As he trudged along the road, the litany of his sins cycled on endless repeat. Disobedient. Selfish. Promiscuous. He rehearsed these titles so often he had forgotten his own name. Prodigal.
When he would finally arrive at his childhood home, he expected to find his father seated loftily on his seat of judgment. The prodigal would cast himself upon the patriarch’s feet. With tears and pleading, he would seek a mercy undeserved. All this he would ask from the man he had wished were dead.
As he traced out this scenario, a figure in haste dawned over the horizon. Though dressed in a king’s cloak, the approaching man had burst into an unfitting and undignified run. Coming closer, recognition struck the prodigal. The sprinting monarch was his father. The king who had left his throne drew near to the sinner who had abandoned his home.
Seeing his father jettison any propriety stopped the prodigal. Drawn short by disbelief, the wasted youth gazed through a cascade of tears. Forgiving arms enwrapped the boy’s neck as the gravity of the moment brought him to his knees. Neither shameful deed nor unholy pig slop could defile the purity of the pardoning embrace.
Instead of casting condemnations from his austere throne, the ruler forgave his wayward child, for the king was also a father. Not only did he wrap the boy in his arms, but he also enfolded the son in his royal cloak; the king covered the prodigal in his own righteousness. When the watching world peered on the returned son, they wouldn’t witness the soiling mud or the defiling dirt. Instead, they gazed upon the covering of their sovereign.
Worthy. Cleansed. Desired. The detriment of wasted years tumbled off the son. False names that had bound him for years gave way to a restored station. In the work of his father, the prodigal remembered his name once again: loved.