In Luke 15, the prodigal son comes home and the father gives him three gifts. In the previous two studies, we looked at the “Robe” of righteousness and the “Ring” of authority. This study is about the “Sandals,” the shoes of sonship.
Luke 15:22 – “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.’ “
So what do shoes represent in the Bible? First, what does “taking shoes off represent?
Take Your Shoes Off
What would taking your shoes off represent in the Bible? Shoes represent “rights.” So when the father said put sandals on his feet he was giving him his “rights” back as a son. But when a person took their shoes off in the Bible, it meant they were giving up their rights.
Ruth 4:7 – Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging, to confirm anything: one man took off his sandals and gave it to the other, and this was an attestation (confirmation) in Israel.
This was a confirmation that they were giving up their right. This man had the right to marry Ruth but gave that right up.
Here’s what the Law said about this when a man dies and he doesn’t have an heir, then the brother of that man was to marry his widow so that she would have an heir. But what if he doesn’t want to marry her?
Deuteronomy 25:7 – “But if the man does not want to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate to the elders, and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to raise up a name to his brother of Israel; he will not perform his duty of my husband’s brother.’ (Verse 8) “Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him; and if he stands firm and says, ‘I do not want to take her,’ (Verse 9) “then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the presence of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, spit in his face, and answer and say, ‘So shall it be done to the man who will not build up his brother’s house.’ (Verse 10) “And his name shall be called in Israel, ‘The house of him who had his sandal removed.’ “
So, if taking off your shoes means giving up your rights, what did it mean when Moses was told to remove his shoes at a burning bush? The first thing God said to Moses was, “Remove your shoes, the place where you stand is holy!” Same meaning: You want to talk to Me, give up all your rights!”
The same thing happens to Joshua when they go in the Promised Land and are about to take Jericho. Joshua 5:13 – And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”
(Verse 14) So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” (Verse 15) The Commander of the LORD’S army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.
There was no way Israel could have defeated Jericho. The Angel of the LORD was asking, “Will you give up your rights?” The Commander of the LORD’s army was “Jesus!” Joshua gave up his right to be commander. Jesus wasn’t there to take sides, He was there to “Take Over!” He was there to see if Joshua would get on His side.
Put Your Shoes Back On
The rights of sonship. This is not what we can do on our own, not what we’ve earned or how smart we are, but the rights of being a son or daughter of the Almighty! Moses and Joshua put their shoes back on and led the people of Israel, but they led under God. The rights are too many to name, but here are a few that we can see through Scripture: one is the power to share the gospel; authority over the enemy; freedom.
But to sum up what all the rights are: First, why did Jesus put two sons in the parable of the prodigal son? Keep in mind: The father gives the prodigal son a robe, a ring and puts sandals on his feet and has a big party for him. The older son won’t come to the party.
Luke 15:25 – “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near the house, he heard music and dancing. (Verse 26) “So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. (Verse 23) “And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’
(Verse 28) “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. (Verse 29) “So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.
(Verse 30) “But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ (Verse 31) “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.’ “
The “rights” of sons and daughters: The presence and the provision of God, sums all the rights up. In Luke 15, Jesus tells three parables and all three are about what was lost and what was found, but look at why He was even telling these parables.
Luke 15:1 – Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near Him to hear Him. (Verse 2) And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” (Verse 3) So He spoke this parable to them, saying:
Because of what the Pharisees and scribes were murmuring, Jesus tells three parables to show how much the Father loves to recover stolen children. He also is showing that it’s all grace and not works. The Pharisees were constantly badgering Jesus, but Jesus told hundreds of parables to try and get them to understand they couldn’t earn their relationship with God. However, the Pharisees would get furious because they felt they had earned that right to have a relationship with God.
The sinners that hung out with Jesus knew that they hadn’t done anything to earn that relationship. So the “older son” represents the “Pharisees” in this parable. He felt he was entitled to the right of a relationship because he had served all these years without transgressing. Did the son really go al those years without transgressing? No, there is only one that was perfect and His name is Jesus.
The prodigal son also represents the sinners. The Father gets excited when one sinner comes home! However, Jesus makes it clear that it was all available to the older son and the Pharisees too, but they got mad instead because attention was given to the one sinner, the prodigal son, that came home.
The Pharisees felt they had worked harder to earn the right of their position and the sinners hadn’t earned anything. Jesus was trying to get them to understand they couldn’t earn it and they didn’t get it. They also didn’t want to be equal with sinners!
Arrogance and pride and the feeling that “I didn’t do any wrong,” will keep a person from “giving up their rights” and becoming a follower of Jesus.
We first take our shoes off and give up our rights. Then we put our shoes back on and come under Christ’s authority to accomplish what He desires for our lives. Trust HIm!