The prodigal son needed what the apostle Paul calls a “renewing of the mind.” This wayward son had a mindset of condemnation and was nervous about going back home. These words from the parable, though, show his father’s mindset: “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet’” (Luke 15:22-23, NKJV).
Today we have the same dilemma. Our Father rejoices over us, embracing us with loving arms. Yet we are sure that humility means digging up our past sins rather than accepting his grace. We think guiltily, “He has to be angry with me. I’ve sinned worse than others have.”
When the father’s servants placed his best robe on the son, it represented Christ clothing us in his righteousness. The father placing a ring on the boy’s finger signified our union with Christ. Finally, when they placed shoes on his feet it was a picture of us being shod with the gospel of the peace of Christ. This loving father was showing his child, “Away with those rags of self-effort to please me! I’m going to show you how I see you. You aren’t coming into my presence as a beggar or a slave but as a royal child, my son, who delights me. Come to me with boldness!”
The same is true for us. We must be renewed in our thinking about how God receives us. “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, his flesh… let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:19-20, 22).
The word for “boldness” in verse 19 comes from a root meaning “an emancipated slave.” We no longer live under the law of sin and death but under grace. In short, God’s love and mercy qualify us to enter his presence with confidence: “Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:12-13).