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20So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

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20. a great way off—Oh yes, when but the face is turned homeward, though as yet far, far away, our Father recognizes His own child in us, and bounds to meet us—not saying, Let him come to Me and sue for pardon first, but Himself taking the first step.

fell on his neck and kissed him—What! In all his filth? Yes. In all his rags? Yes. In all his haggard, shattered wretchedness? Yes. "Our Father who art in heaven," is this Thy portraiture? It is even so (Jer 31:20). And because it is so, I wonder not that such incomparable teaching hath made the world new.

21. Father, I have sinned, &c.—"This confession is uttered after the kiss of reconciliation" (Eze 16:63) [Trench].

22. But the Father said, &c.—The son has not said all he purposed, not so much, because the father's demonstrations had rekindled the filial, and swallowed up all servile feeling [Trench] (on the word "Father," see on Lu 15:18), but because the father's heart is made to appear too full to listen, at that moment, to more in this strain.

the best robe—Compare Zec 3:4, 5, "Take away the filthy garments from him; behold I have clothed thee with change of raiment; and they clothed him with garments" (Isa 61:10; Re 3:18).

a ring—(Compare Ge 41:42; Jas 2:2).

shoes—Slaves went barefoot. Thus, we have here a threefold symbol of freedom and honor, restored, as the fruit of perfect reconciliation.

23. the fatted calf—kept for festive occasions.

24. my son—now twice his son.

dead … lost—to me; to himself—to my service, my satisfaction; to his own dignity, peace, profit.

alive again … found—to all these.

merry—(See on Lu 15:10).