But I have understood it, just in case you were wondering. Jesus, it seems to me, was addressing his stubborn fellow Jewish countrymen, reminding them about the … I had a quick look and will try at some point to consider Jordan’s argument—and others like it—in more detail, but for now I’m not persuaded that Jesus intended the parable to be read as a retelling of Israel’s history, whether Isaac and Ishmael or the return from exile. Modern man also assumes he is saved by a God who has no choice but to forgive. Such interpretations not only yank the parable out of its historical context, they lessen the message of Jesus and In spite of the boy’s poor choices, God does not see son number two as an embarrassment. The other third is the father. :-), http://krusekronicle.typepad.com/kruse_kronicle/2006/01/luke_15_kenneth…, Notice was Jeremiah says in [Jer 31:31] “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I shall make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah …”. Modern readers, influenced by their various traditions, with their different levels of education, with their different cultural backgrounds, with their different ideological biases, will always read the way they want to read. That assumption is particularly unsound in your reading of this parable. The disciples are to pray, “Father, hallowed be your name…” (11:2). We can imagine the sense of longing in the father for his son’s return so that he can spend himself on the young man. Since “heaven” is an indirect reference to God, it is difficult to understand why the son would express himself in this way if, in Jesus’ mind, the father stood for God. So the fatherhood of Abraham motif belongs to the dispute with the Pharisees and others over the grounds for participation in the people of God at a time of eschatological crisis. God’s greatest desire is to return to relationship so that He can return to showering us with gifts, the materialization of his perfect love for us. I wouldn't agree it's Jesus since he can't in any way be envious of people. The father then orders the servants to bring the best robe, no doubt one of his own (a sign of dignity and honor, proof of the prodigal’s acceptance back into the family), a ring for the son’s hand (a sign of authority and sonship) and He knows he can only heal the relationship, in any real sense, if he returns to a As a matter of fact the discussion really clouds the issue. The father of the “Prodigal Son” represents God who gives his divine love and forgiveness. Instead of refusing to see the son, which would have been the practice of the day, he takes the initiative and runs The fatherhood of God in Luke is essentially a discipleship theme—it defines the relationship of the disciples to God, derived from their relationship to Jesus, as they followed the narrow path of suffering that would lead to life in the age to come. But as I pointed out, thematically the story fits with passages that speak of Abraham as father much better than with passages that speak of God as father. He quarreled with his father that the younger son had messed up and yet the father had prepared for him the “fatted calf.” Because he considered himself better than the younger son, he could not share in the father… He made his own choice. We stray as the prodigal son strays, but the Father welcomes us back no matter what we do. It is illuminating that the servant remarks that the celebration is due to the fact that the son returns “safe and sound,” not due to his confession. Jesus acknowledges that the hard-working Pharisees are part of the family of Abraham. From an exegetical point of view, however, modern literary sentiments are irrelevant. 3:7-9). [i] Jesus shares the parable with his disciples, the Pharisees and others. I agree that the story is a polemic, or dramatic parabolic criticism, but with more than a little reader-response thrown in. His father welcomes him home. The parable of the prodigal son also shows the attitude of the self-righteous sinner, pictured by the older son. The latter is a thinly veiled representation of Andrew. Progressive Christianity and the narrative-historical method. 2. Why is the Catholic population decreasing in numbers? The force of the story is then, in my opinion, lost, if we cease to consider our own reactions to what is taking place, and the conjectured reactions of Jesus’s audience, and allow the story to criticise us, as well as the original audience. The parable of the prodigal son clearly fits the first category of “father” sayings much better than the second—it is a story not about discipleship but about membership. The father in the story shows immense grace to his two sons. I find the charges you bring against alternative readings to your own, which hold yours up to criticism, untrue and insensitive. Then in this triad, the first 2 “lost ones” were sought for. It is important for the son to do this. The son separates himself from the father and uses the inheritance badly. Rom 11:11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? It is a pure gift. No, but it does mean that God is always giving us ways and paths to provide for our needs. The Parable of the Prodigal Son (also known as the parable of the Two Brothers, Lost Son, Loving Father, or of the Forgiving Father) is one of the parables of Jesus in the Bible, appearing in Luke 15:11–32. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”. It indicates that the younger son wants what belongs to the father — “your estate” — and wants it before the father dies, when ownership is normally transferred. Yesterday I preached a sermon based on the story of the Prodigal Son (which I’ll assume everyone knows but it wouldn’t hurt to go back and read it as a refresher, see Luke 15:11-32 ). In the story, the prodigal son takes half of his father's inheritance and spends it all on alcohol, drugs, and prostitutes. The defeat of Satan has been revealed first to Jesus and then to the disciples by their Father (10:21-22). Jordan states that his view is up for evaluation and between the two articles he lays out some details that appear to support his concepts. Has the body of Christ wandered off? The younger son in this case demands what is a gift as something owed, as something that belongs to him by right, placing the inheritance in the arena of justice, in effect denying the gratuitous nature of the inheritance and so, in a real sense, denying the love that impels the gift. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. I don’t think he was saying to the Pharisees, “Here’s an interesting story, make of it what you will.”. After the Prodigal Son came back to his senses, he began the journey home. The parable of the prodigal son clearly fits the first category of “father” sayings much better than the second—it is a story not about discipleship but about, Theological terms in narrative-historical perspective, Synopsis of N.T. The father is overjoyed with the son’s return who was lost to him. I still think it reduces a superb literary tour de force, which leaps from its context to other contexts, as described, to something bland and of antiquarian interest only. The Parable of the Prodigal Son was told by Jesus in Luke 15:11-32and came right after He had told the Parable of the Lost Sheep and the Parable of the Lost Coin and His audience were the scribes and Pharisees who were complaining to Jesus that He associated with tax collectors and sinners (Luke 15:1-2) and so this parable was not necessary intended for the disciples alone but it appears that this parable was directed t… No one forced him to leave his father’s house. Most people who have been participating in churches for more than a few years, and many for much less than that, would want to identify themselves with the younger son as describing their lives, either spiritually or more literally, before they came to Christ. I would guess that most of the words of Christ could have more than one valid and valuable meaning. ‘The Lost (or Prodigal) Son’ is a very famous parable. The ring is an emblem of wealth, position, honour; that is one signification of this gift to the penitent. We can imagine the father’s intentions during this time. The younger son believes erroneously that he is owed the gifts of his father and the older son thinks he has to earn them. The setting for this parable is provided in Luke 15:1-2, where we find the Pharisees and scribes deriding Jesus for receiving and eating with sinners. But the impact of Jesus’s teaching in the parables is, I think, more than that of retailing pedagogical instruction. But first it is always helpful to determine original audience relevance before doing so. The father said all things belong to the first child who has always been obedient to him. He catalogs the other son’s sins in an effort to compare himself to his brother. The Parable of the Prodigal Son also known as the parable of the Two Brothers, Lost Son, Loving Father or Forgiving Father, is one of the parables of Jesus in the … When the prodigal son returned he was met by the father and immediately after the embrace of unconditional love and acceptance was given … He said to his father in reply, “Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. Particularly looking again at the context of the story — in v1-2 it is Jesus’ behaviour which outrages the Pharisees, as the father’s behaviour outrages the elder son. This restoration to fellowship was cause for celebration – not because the younger son was “good” but because of the Father’s great love for the younger son. The “tax collectors and sinners” have become alienated from the commonwealth of Israel; they have become like Gentiles. He is primarily moved to restore the relationship that allows his gifts to flow again. Thank you for the reminder to not only stop and contemplate all that God gives us, but also to “look up” and notice the Person who gave the gift, to see the love behind the gift. In the case of the Prodigal Son, the son had nothing to leave home with, so he desired to have his inheritance ahead of time, before his father died. This is certainly a metaphor for our Father God. The prodigal son has been claimed oftentimes to represent the repentant soul, this makes its identity clear. It’s an interesting, if esoteric, point of view. The longing of the father to be united with the younger son, to be in relationship with him and to give of himself to him, is realized when he sees him. Zacchaeus is reckoned as a “son of Abraham” because he gives half of his goods to the poor and offers to recompense those whom he has defrauded (Lk. Then the father does something unheard of. It is something to be passed on when he dies. As does the parable of the labourers. This was so rare the later in the story the older son became jealous and angry that the father had never killed a … If we see the constant gifting of God towards ourselves, we can avoid both these errors. The most important lesson from the parable comes from what isn’t said. What the younger son comes to learn is that, cutting himself off from his father’s love, he has also cut himself off from his acts of love. There are some potential sticking points: I wonder whether we should expect Abraham to be characterized in quite such a vivid and dynamic fashion; and doesn’t the older son’s claim that he has never disobeyed his father’s “command” evoke Pharisaic adherence to the Law of God? No matter what he did, the Prodigal never stopped being a son. The son’s demand for what is a gift, forces the gift-act of the father into one of justice: “that should come to me,” that is, “what is owed to me.” Debt can only arise out of justice; gift can only arise from gratuity. Once he sees what is missing, like the shepherd, and the woman, he seeks to make his family whole. The story of the Prodigal Son is told by Jesus to show that God will accept any sinner who repents, no matter what they Jesus declared Zacchaeus a “son of Abraham”, saying that “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost”. The story of the regathering of the Jews and Paul’s exploration of it is a complex theme from the OT to be sure. The details of the story are adaptable of course. In my reading of Hebrew literature that indicates that Ishmael is not a spiritually dead lineage concerning the promise. We also deny our dependence upon those gifts. Thomas Hardy as been a teacher and administrator in Catholic high schools for the majority of his working life. This is certainly one way we can deny the gifts of our Father God, by assuming that we are owed, by our very existence, what He wishes to give us as gifts — our life, the universe, his salvation, and the cornucopia of benefits we receive from him every day. As ever, we have to take into account the probable immediate context, in terms of guessing the identities of those whom Jesus was addressing. I think we need to be sensitive to the literary force of Jesus’s teaching in this parable, and others, which I think breaks the boundary of simple historical allegory. Biblically at least, who the father is, and who the sons are is clear enough — but still subject to rejection. I also think it’s a stretch to take the term ‘father’ in the story, and link it to selected examples of ‘father’ in Luke as protector of the weak and vulnerable. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. I’m quite convinced Deuter 30 lies behind the Lost Son and Psalm 49 is behind the RM & L in ch 16. The amazing thing is that he never appreciated all that had been his in the father’s house, and it wasn’t through a failure of information, but a hardness of heart. I take your point about allegorization, but the parable is told explicitly to address the objections of the Pharisees about Jesus eating with “tax collectors and sinners” (15:1-2). We can almost hear the Pharisees gasp as the story ends . He divides his property and lets his son go. We mostly take it for granted, of course, that the father is God and that the central point of the story is that God forgives the repentant sinner. Privacy. Kester Brewin just seems bizarre. One third of the story describes the older brother. The motif of God as father has to do with the special status of Jesus and his disciples, especially insofar as they are weak, vulnerable, and exposed to hostility: they are assured that their Father will be with them as they go through suffering for the sake of the coming kingdom and will finally vindicate them. That is as true today as it was in his own time and context. At the start of the parable the younger son comes to the father and demands his inheritance. His compassion can mean “mercy”; it seems here to be really a combination of pity and concern. These two brothers were at odds with each other and the father is only just beginning to see what is really happening in his household. The father in the parable is, of course, God the Father. Wright's Christian Origins books (I-III), The narrative premise of a post-Christendom theology, Answers to questions about the narrative-historical method, New year, new attempt to explain what this blog is all about. Similarly when Jesus says “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. The main character in the parable, the forgiving father, whose character remains constant throughout the story, is a picture of God. Why didn’t Jesus just come out and say it: God is going to punish you with violent destruction? The three stories in Luke 15 are told because the Pharisees and scribes had grumbled (diegonguzon) about the fact that Jesus was receiving tax collectors and sinners and eating with them. He is the good God who is the perfect giver. 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