The lost son had been found, the dead was alive, the prodigal was back with the father. Joy, merriment, gladness filled the house. Music and dancing expressed the satisfaction, the exuberant joy, of that moment; they were the suited accompaniment, the outward expression, of the overflowing gladness of the father’s heart.
Lovely picture of heaven’s joy over every returning prodigal; it tells the nature of our welcome, the spirit in which we are received.
The cavil of the elder son brings out the father’s reminder that nothing less would suit the occasion. “It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad.” The word “meet” here used is one that means “it behoveth,” “is becoming,” “suited to the event”; nothing else but gladness and merriment would do at such a moment.
How all this lets us into the meaning of those words, “rejoice with me”; it tells us God, our Father has His own peculiar joy in welcoming a conscience stricken, self-condemned prodigal arising and owning, “I have sinned against heaven and before thee,” turning in his misery to the outstretched arms of a Saviour God.
Do we sufficiently dwell on the manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, enter into what it is to be loved of the Father, lay hold of the precious fact that it is His pleasure—nay, more, His good pleasure—to have us before Him in love?
The word “meet” occurs again in Colossians 1:12. “Giving thanks to the Father, Who hath made us meet.” Here it is quite a different word; its meaning is, we are “fully qualified,” provided with all that is “sufficient” to enable us to be at rest, at home in the Father’s presence, to reciprocate the joy of His heart and to share the portion, the feast spread, in the marvellous light, where an inheritance which is incorruptible, a portion which can never be squandered, is ours now, ours for all eternity.
The Father Himself has made us “meet,” ministered to us that which sets us at home, at rest, in the “light,” where our portion is. We are not only to know what it is to have His arms around our necks in our rags and misery, the kiss of welcome which assured us of His feelings towards us whilst we were still a “great way off” but He would have us consciously at peace in His presence; hence the servants are told to bring forth the “best robe.” Like Joshua, his “filthy rags” are removed, and he is clothed with festal robes.
This robe is the righteousness of God. It is upon all them that believe; every believer is clothed, mantled, robed, with a covering which fully and perfectly qualifies him for the holy, blessed presence of God, He is made meet by the Father.
At the Father’s command shoes are on the prodigal’s feet, he now stands in all the value, worth, and acceptance of Another, he is taken into favour in the Beloved, his standing, his abiding, unchanging place, is now in Christ Jesus, he is ever thus before God.
Then the ring on his finger bespeaks a love that knows no end, a love in which every returning prodigal finds his abiding place, for the love of God is boundless, causeless, eternal, a love which envelops and surrounds through everything and remains when this world has passed away.
We are not left as we were found. God our Father met us in our sins, forgave us fully, freely, frankly! He found us captives in Satan’s hand, rescued and delivered us, translated us into a kingdom of light, put us under the safe keeping of the Son of His love.
We are kept by His mighty power, none shall pluck us out of His hand We are made meet by the Father, loved by the Father, kept by the Father, we are going to the Father, we are rejoiced over by the Father, heaven’s courts proclaim the welcome He gave us, it is He who has “brought forth” that which fits us, qualifies us, to be eternally at home with Him; we may well say:
“God and Father, unto
Thee Everlasting glory be!”
The word “meet” occurs again in 2 Timothy 2:21. This word does not mean here meetness for the light, nor is it expressive of the father’s joy over the returning prodigal. It reminds us that we may be quite “meet” for heaven, and yet not “meet” for the Master’s service on earth. “Very useful” is its proper meaning. What Christian does not desire to be very useful? Paul tells Timothy if he would be “useful” certain qualifications are needful. They are summed up in two words. One is “flee,” the other is “follow.” We are to flee youthful lusts—depart from iniquity—purge ourselves from evil. This is very comprehensive; whatever comes under the heading of lust, whether it be the eye, the flesh, or the pride of life, we are to flee from, we are to escape with all the energy of our souls, for our usefulness to our Lord and Master is over the moment we are defiled; we are no longer in a fit moral condition to do a good work. We must also keep clear of evil in our associations. Never was this more needful than today; vessels to dishonour abound; scarcely a corner of Christendom not defiled by impure doctrine, unholy practices. From these we are to escape as though for our life, purge ourselves from whatever dishonours Christ.
We are to “follow” as well as to “flee.” We are to set righteousness in the foreground. This means we are to render an adequate response to every claim: God’s rights first, then a right answer to every relationship in which we are set. God is to have the first place, He must be obeyed at all costs; the grace which has met us, the love which welcomed us, all surely claim a fitting return on out part; hence we are to be sober, righteous, godly in this present world. Love and peace toward our fellow Christians are to accompany righteousness. We must seek in every way to cultivate a meek, gentle, patient spirit, even with those who oppose themselves.
There is to be no hardness; we are enjoined to follow with them who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart. Peter reminds us a “pure heart” is one filled with fervent and unfeigned love to each and all of our fellow Christians.
This is the spirit in which we are to carry ourselves toward others. The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all.
Fitness for heaven, then, is God’s gracious work; we cannot add to, or take from, the meetness with which God our Father has endowed us.
Fitness for Christ’s service on earth is our responsibility. If we would be “very useful” to our Lord and Master, if we would hear Him in a coming day say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” we must eschew every evil lust, avoid every impure thing, separate absolutely from every defiling association, present our bodies a living sacrifice, be clean vessels. Only thus can we be fit, suited, ready, for every good work, prepared servants, very useful, to the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, “zealous of good works.”
Words of Grace and Encouragement 1910