Summary: THE FACE SAVING PLAN Luke 15: 13-19 (p740) July 24, 2011 INTRODUCTION: Have you ever had to go to plan "B" because plan "A" does not work out like you thought it would? Yeah?!!! Me too....In fact I'd hazard a guess that everyone in this
THE FACE SAVING PLAN
Luke 15: 13-19 (p740) July 24, 2011
Have you ever had to go to plan "B" because plan "A" does not work out like you thought it would?
Yeah?!!! Me too....In fact I'd hazard a guess that everyone in this sanctuary this morning has thought they had the ideal plan...we've worked it out in our minds, put it into action...and then the bottom falls out.
The younger son in our story has a plan...get his share of the Father's estate..turn it into cash and then hit the road as quickly as possible.
"The younger Son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living." (v 13)
The prodigal wants to get out of town in a hurry. The reason is pretty clear....after receiving his share of the inheritance he goes through the village and sells it...The words "got together" (sywugzgonpanda)
literally means "turned everything into cash".
As soon as this is accomplished he puts his plan into action and leaves home for a distant country.
The scorn of the entire community would have been enormous. He leaves, and the only thing that follows him is the love a brokenhearted father.
You see first century Jewish custom dictated that if a Jewish boy lost the family inheritance among the gentiles and dared to return home. The community would break a large pot in front of him and cry out "So and so is cut off, from his people." The ceremony is called "KEZAZAH" (literally "the cutting off"). If a Jewish boy loses his money among the gentiles he burns his bridges...He has no way to return home...He has no more rights and no one will take him in.
But the prodigal has no plans to ever return home...His plan "A" involves the rejection of all his "roots"...His community...His traditional valves...His father.
We don't know where the 'distant country" is, but we know its among the gentiles because pigs get involved...and only gentiles eat pork or use pigs as sacrificial animals.
Its in this far country that he squanders his property"...in lose living...for centuries the Arabic-translations have read, "He scattered his possessions in extravagant living".
His brother will later accuse him of spending it on harlots, but if the prodigal is of traditional middle Eastern heritage...and we know he is, this money is used primarily to establish a reputation for generosity...he holds large banquets, gives out expensive gifts. Generosity is a supreme virtue in this culture...so he tries to gain status in the eyes of his new friends...But he's spending his energies watering a plastic plant.
"After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. (14)
The inheritance runs out.....famine hovers over him like a storm cloud, he realized he's in big trouble...so....
I WHY DOES HE STAY IN THE FAR COUNTRY:
There are two very powerful reasons that keep him in the distant country.
1) First, at home he'll have to endure his brother's scorn. Not only will he be blamed for the past...but he'll have to live off his brothers inheritance. He'll have to be forever indebted to his father and his brother.... The cup is too bitter, he can't drink it...at, least not yet. His estrangement from his brother keeps him from fellowship with the father.
2) He must face the village...He has broken his relationship with the entire community and is now disposed by all...having lost his inheritance among the gentiles the "KEZAZAH CEREMONY"
awaits him at home.
Village society is worthless with the man who is down. Strangers and Beggars are taunted mercilessly in the streets by children.
Mark 10: 46-52 records the story of Jesus healing "Bartimaeus" The name "Timaeus" comes from the Hebrew root "unclean"..."Bar" amaeus "Son of" so Bartimaeus would mean "Son of filth" Probably the taunt name the local village gave this man.
Village mockery is horrible, intense, and ongoing...the prodigal would have been labeled something like "Son of the Pigs"...this would have been his name everywhere he went...it would not have been a fun existence...he would have to live on the outskirts of the community because of the KEZAZAH ceremony...and that was a horrible place to live then...and its a horrible place to live NOW.
The famine that grips the land is described as "service...and wide spread...its effects the whole country." these famines were much more than just being hungry...A serve famine in this day and age in the middle East had occurred...reports of people eating shoe leather, rotten flesh and garbage and as people died...cannibalism. Kenneth Bailey an expert in this culture records..."Entire Villages were wiped out...some families seeing death upon them buried themselves in their homes to keep their bodies from
being devoured...these recollections would have been in the minds of Jesus audience...