“But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
Servants can play an important role in the ministry of Jesus. There were the servants who were the witnesses of the first miracle at the wedding in Cana – when He changed the water into wine. Then the disciples acted as servants in the feeding of the 5000 when a little boy’s lunch became enough to feed them all. Now there are the servants playing a part in the re-instatement of the prodigal son upon his return. In each case something wonderful happened as they obeyed the Lord’s command. Finally Jesus would reveal His own serving ministry very clearly in the washing of the disciples’ feet.
In this story the servants have witnessed many things. They would have heard about the demands of the younger son to receive his inheritance early, and would have understood the insulting implications. Then they had watched him go swaggering off on his search for worldly pleasures – followed by the sad eyes of their master. Now they saw him drag his sorry and humiliated form back in disgrace. They would have been amazed as they watched their master, a wealthy landowner, throw his dignity to the winds and go running towards his son to hug him, kiss him and welcome him back home again without a word of censure or bitterness. Finally they were involved in the re-instatement and restoration of the bedraggled boy to his former status as son. They fetched and then clothed him in the best robe, found and placed the ring of authority on his finger and clothed his naked feet with the shoes of dignity and status. In doing so they became a part of the process and were not allowed to be merely critical onlookers – they too were a part of his restoration. Finally they organised and were a part of the celebration that followed.
There is a message for all of us in this. We too are servants of the Lord. On His behalf we also are expected to look out for the returning child – no matter where they have been and what they have done. On behalf of our Lord we would be expected to welcome them, clothe them with acceptance and love and feed them from the feast of celebration – our Lord’s Supper. It is so easy to be wary and distant and to forget the heart-soaring delight of the Lord and His desire to celebrate,
‘For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’
We are to be the visible expressions of the Lord’s acceptance and love of His children.
I am a servant of the Lord and of His people.
Lord Jesus, You have served me – let me never be too proud or reluctant to do the same for others. Amen.