“I once heard a family-court judge say that although hundreds of juvenile offenders and their parents had been brought before him, he never once had seen a parent put a protective arm around the youngster’s shoulder (Smiley Blanton, MD. “The Magic of Touch”).”
How differently the father in Jesus’ parable acts. He literally enfolds the boy in forgiveness.
The second detail that portrays the father’s attitude is his order to place shoes on the boy’s feet. The boy was willing to return home as a slave: “I no longer deserve to be called your son.” Shoes were a sign of sonship, not slaveship. Only free people wore shoes; slaves did not. This was true also in American slave days. A Negro Spiritual rejoices that, in heaven, all of God’s children will wear shoes.
The final detail that portrays the father’s attitude is his order to place a ring on the boy’s finger. A signet ring, which this probably was, was a sign of authority. It contained the family seal used for authenticating legal and commercial papers. To possess the ring was to have the power to act in the name of the person or family to whom the seal belonged: Pharaoh said to Joseph… “You shall be in charge of my palace….” With that, he took off his signet ring and put it on Joseph’s finger. (Genesis 41:39-42)
The father extends to his younger son not only a total welcome (embrace), but also total forgiveness (shoes) and total restoration (ring) to the status he had before he left home.
(Link, Mark S.J., The Seventh Trumpet, Tabor Publishing, Allen, TX, pg 126)