They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud.” 2 Peter 2:22 NLT
I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’ Luke 15:18-19 NLT
As we continue to think about the “fractured” nature of God’s image in us, it occurs to me that a crucial distinction needs to be made. That distinction is implied in the verses above. Peter, quoting a disgusting verse from Proverbs 26, compares false teachers to dogs who return to their vomit and pigs who, after being all cleaned up and made spiffy for the county fair, return to the mud and slop at the first opportunity. In your meditation on this verse, don’t think of a dog as man’s best friend. To the Jewish mind, nothing was lower than a dog. The dogs of New Testament times were feral scavengers, often dirty, diseased, and dangerous. They were seldom household pets.
Peter’s context here refers to false teachers who, although having a form of godliness, were never born again and, therefore, sooner or later, return to the pigpen of this world and its idolatrous “delights.” Contrast that with the prodigal from Luke 15. He was a son and, while he indeed lost his way and wallowed in the mud, he never stopped being a son. In other words, he was created in his father’s image, but he was fractured and smeared a considerable bit of mud on that image. But, when he “came to himself,” he was able to return to the father and plead for restoration, if only as a servant.
Now, let’s consider that one of the pigs overheard the son’s plan and purposed to go back to the father with the prodigal. Can you visualize how that may have worked out? Does the father in the parable accept the pig along with the son? Does he embrace the pig, put a clean robe on it, and place a ring on the pig’s hoof? RIDICULOUS, you say! And you would be correct. But why? The pig is not a son and is not created in the father’s image. Not only that, but it wouldn’t take long sitting at a table with a white tablecloth and using silver utensils and chalice until the pig longed to return to the mud and mire of the pigpen.
The point and the distinction are simply this: If you are a child of God, it doesn’t matter how muddy you got or how distorted the image has become; your Father is waiting and watching for your return. You can go home again! You can be restored to right fellowship with the Father, and you can be made clean! So, what are you waiting for? That pigpen will never feel like home, and those pods that the pigs eat will never satisfy you.