The Father (90 Day Reading Plan)

The story of the Prodigal/Lost Son is one of the most familiar stories in the entire Bible.  It has been preached and pondered over in millions of sermons, served as the inspiration for thousands of pieces of art; and somehow, to the best of my knowledge, never been in a Father’s Day card.  There are a few details in this story that we might have forgotten though.  The starting point is to ask “What is the younger son is asking?”  He comes to his father and asks for his inheritance.  Traditional inheritances are given after the death of the parent.  The younger son comes to the father and essentially says “I wish you were dead, now give me my inheritance.”  The inheritance that he asks for is 1/3 of the the family’s land, since in that culture the older son received 2/3 of the land and the youngest the remainder.  The father gives the younger son the land.  Even though the younger son has insulted the father and shamed the family even by asking for it. In the next part of the story the younger son gathers all he has and goes to a far off land.  How did he take 1/3 of the family land to a different place?  He didn’t. He sold it.  He sold 1/3 of the family farm to strangers.  The land that was his father’s inheritance passed down for untold generations from father to son.  It would have brought down even more shame and embarrassment onto the family.  Also, the act of leaving home was in and of itself a deeply countercultural thing to do.  Sons did not abandon the family. The culture did not say children should go to make their own way in the world. It said they should stay and care for the family.  After everything the younger son has done, when he comes home his father sees him and runs to meet him.  In the culture of this time adult men did not run.  It was undignified.  So, here we see that after everything the younger son has done, the father’s love is still deep enough to throw social convention to the wind and run to him.  All of this may help put the older son’s attitude in a bit better light.  He is angry at his brother for the shame and wrong that he has done to the family. The older son’s reaction is still self-centered but at least we see better where he was coming from.  In the father’s going to the older son and pleading with him to come into the party we see something else of the father.  He deeply loves both sons.  The younger who insults and disrespects him and the older who cannot let go of his own anger and self-centeredness.


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