Summary: The story begins with, "A man had two sons." However, we call it the Prodigal Son. What about the other brother. This family dynamic is not foreign to behavior today.
Sermon, The Layman’s View
September 22, 2013
Tale of Two Sons
An Educational Psychologist was on a flight to Florida and was happy to have the time to prepare notes for one of the parent-education seminars she was leading.
The elderly woman sitting next to her explained that she was returning to Miami after having spent two weeks visiting her six children, 18 grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren in Boston. Then, she asked the psychologist what she did for a living.
After explaining, the psychologist fully expected the older woman to question her for professional advice. Instead, she sat back, picked up a magazine and said, “If there’s anything you want to know, just ask me.”
Today, we’re on the subject of family and interesting behavior in brothers, one we criticize for being very selfish while empathizing with the one disgusted with his father and brother.
Developing a series of lessons from Luke was not intentional, but the flow from story to story is so remarkable that it happened regardless. Over this series we have seen an interesting thread that is rarely noticed unless we identify the commonality.
Humanity, loaded with self-serving emotion and self promotion, behaves contrary to God’s instruction and to the example so clearly lived and explained by Yeshua himself. The fact that the Master was sent to earth to bring success to us while we crucified Him for His efforts, is proof that when given our own ways of power, politics and self interest, we fail. We have been given the path to success in every area of our lives, yet the demon of self interest keeps its grip on our souls and makes us feel good when we appear to win over others.
The passage in Luke 15, verses 11 through 32 is well known as the story of the Prodigal Son. This guy wanted to go his own way, serving his own selfish desires by taking what power his father’s wealth was going to afford him when inherited, to use it now. In this case, daddy gave into his son’s scheme and gave him the money ahead of the inheritance, which was money not earned. Since the younger son had no skin in the game, as we would say, he behaved like the rest of selfishly-minded humanity and blew it all. Were his actions not like those of people today who get free money? This guy was not thinking about his future, only the way he felt at the moment. We know this by what he spent the money on, which included extravagant living and pleasure. There were no credit cards at the time, yet you know he would have maxed one out had it been available.
Sure enough, this young man failed to plan, so he planned to fail! The money was gone. When the shock wore off that he had no more groceries, he decided he had better find work or find something to eat, somewhere. What he had ignored was the famine around him. How selfish and stupid does one have to be to ignore conditions of neighbors and friends? Are we all not connected by economic conditions, even in our time?
Finally, this guy took note of his plight, realizing that even his father’s hired help had food to eat and were not destitute like him. His search for food among hog producers in the area turned up nothing. He was hungry but still realized that even pigs had something to eat. Remember that swine were used for making sandals and other products used by the Jewish community. While eating pork was forbidden, walking on products from pigs was not.
To stay alive, this guy had but one choice; go home. His father had given him a significant portion of his wealth, and this guy, in his stupid choices, blew it all, still, his papa had money and food. As we would anticipate a very angry father after squandering so much money, so did he. However, going home meant life, and refusing to eat humble pie meant death.
As the story goes, father either posted someone to watch for the son to return, or he was watching himself. This makes us wonder if he knew the boy better than we think. Regardless, when daddy saw son coming from a great distance, orders were given to get the party started as he ran down the road to meet his really crazy kid.
Verse 20 indicates that the father kissed his son as the boy confessed by saying, “I have sinned before heaven and before you, and I am not worthy to be called your son.”
What would you do in this situation? Would your response be tough love saying, “Sorry son, you’ve blown it. Don’t expect any more from me. Stay in a tent out here in the yard until you’ve learned your lesson.” Would you say, “Why can’t you be like your brother?”