TITLE: The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
AUTHOR: TIM KELLER
PUBLISHER: New York, NY: Dutton Press, 2008, (144 pages).
"We come to the dramatic third and final scene of Act 1. The younger son comes within sight of the house. His father sees him and runs--runs to him! As a general rule, distinguished Middle Eastern patriarchs do not run. Children might run; women might run; young men might run. But not the paterfamilias, the dignified pillar of the community, the owner of the great estate. He would not pick up his robes and bare his legs like some boy. But this father does. He runs to his son and, showing his emotions openly, falls upon him and kisses him.
This almost surely would have taken the younger brother by surprise. Flummoxed, he tries to roll out his business plan for the restitution. The father interrupts him, not only ignoring his rehearsed speech but directly contradicting it. 'Quick!' he says to his servants. 'Bring the best robe and put it on him!' What is he saying?
The best robe in the house would have been the father's own robe, the unmistakable sign of restored standing in the family. The father is saying, 'I'm not going to wait until you've paid off your debts; I'm not going to wait until you've duly groveled. you are not going to earn your way back into the family. I am going to simply take you back. I will cover your nakedness, poverty, and rags with the robes of my office and honor." (22-3)