One my favorite images in the parable of the Prodigal Son (or Prodigal Father as we have been calling it), is the image of the father calling for his best robe, so that he can wrap it around the shoulders of his wayward child. The younger son, of course is returning from “a far country” where he has been working on a farm feeding the pigs, because he has squandered all his fathers money on "prostitutes and wild living”. I can only imagine what he looks like as he comes walking up the road to his childhood home. He’s wasting away from malnutrition, filthy from sleeping with the pigs and his tattered clothes are barely holding together. He’s a shadow of his former self…. Probably unrecognizable.
But he is not unrecognizable to his father. While he is still “a long way off” the father runs to him, and while the younger sonstammers out his repentance, the father wraps a shimmering robe around the emaciated shoulders of his son. Luxurious red and gold fabric cover over his tattered, filthy rags. What a beautiful way to say “I forgive you”.
As we tell ourselves the truth today before we go out into the world, here is the truth we must begin with:
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Isaiah 64:6 (KJV)
Like this wayward son, we too have squandered gods gifts selfishly. We have “sinned before God”, and against our fellow man. We were all created in the image of God, but in our fallen-ness we have twisted the beauty of that image into an emaciated, ruined state… We have not done what is right… "Our Righteousness is as filthy rags”.
But if we have come to the end of ourselves and turned to God our father, we have found him already running toward us ready to wrap us up in a royal robe… A robe called “the righteousness of Christ”. This is a very costly robe. Our passage for today reads:
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)
So Imagine this additional image to this beautiful story… Jesus takes off the robe that he has earned, and before he wraps it around you, he takes off the tattered, filthy robes that barely cover your shoulders, and puts them on himself… He takes on the unrighteous garment that you have earned for yourself and wraps you up in the spotless one that belongs only to him.
That is the story you need to recall as you tell yourself the truth today saying,
“I am the Righteousness of God in Christ"
We are not participating in some kind of self-esteem building program this week. We are not trying to give each other a pep talk every morning saying “You can do it”! We are trying to cut through all the darkness that is out there and shine a bright light on what Christ has done FOR you… And here is what He has done for you, Christian:
Jesus has made it possible for you to go out into the world and CHOOSE to do the right thing! You are no longer a slave to your sin, you are now FREE to choose the right!
You don’t have to do things the old way anymore. Jesus died to give you everything you need to do the right thing today.
I'm praying for you!