Summary: The Prodigal Father's love for His lost son
37. Who is Jesus?
May 22th, 2011
The Lost Son
Our journey through Luke brings us to one of the best known stories in all of scripture, maybe even the best known story ever told; the story of the prodigal son. This is the longest parable that Jesus tells and probably the best short story ever written. We are in Luke 15:11 where we see the parable of a loving father who has two sons. One son is rebellious the other son is religious. This parable gives us the opportunity to see which side the coin we fall on.
Lk 15:11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. Lk 15:12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Lk 15:13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. Lk 15:14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. Lk 15:15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. Lk 15:16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
Sometimes when parents raise their children, the kids turn out exactly how the parents raised them. Some parents don’t raise their kids the way they should and then are surprised when their kids turn into monsters. I’ve seen this even with some of my own family. I have a cousin who has been running his household since he was about two years old, his parents have never disciplined him, he gets whatever he wants, and now he is going into the teen years and he is a little terror. Sometimes what you get as parents is the result of how you raise your kids. Sometimes no matter how well you raise them your kids will be rebellious. That is the case with father. He’s done everything right, but his kids just go wrong.
The story begins with the younger son demanding his inheritance from his father. In Jewish culture a man’s inheritance would be divided by the number of sons he had plus one. A man with three sons would divide his inheritance into four parts. The extra part would be given the oldest son as a double portion. So the two younger sons would receive 1/4th of the estate and the oldest son would receive the other half.
An inheritance is what you get when your father dies. Until that happens the son has no right to ask for it. So Twiddle-dum here is telling his dad: “I wish you were dead. Your being alive is an inconvenience to me. I don’t care about you, I don’t want anything to do with you, so I wish you would just die so I could have my money. Why don’t we stop pretending and just give me what’s mine then I don’t have to wait for you to die.” Can you imagine one of your kids saying this to you? What we see of the father in this parable is that he is a good and loving father, there is no reason why his son should hate him so much.
The youngest son rebels against the love of his father. He doesn’t want to have a relationship with him, he wants to do his own thing, to live his life his way, to be independent. His father doesn’t force him to stay. For some reason the father graciously divides his estate between his two sons and the rebellious one runs off. He turns his back on his father and walks away without even looking back. He goes out, parties, living it up, and doing whatever he wants. As he spends money like Donald Trump at a Toupee shop, the stock market crashes, hard times hit, gas prices go up and the young man’s inheritance is wiped out. He finds himself broke and alone with nothing to show for his life.
Broke and desperate the young man forces himself on a local pig farmer. The farmer probably didn’t need his help or want his help so he gave the boy the lowliest job of all: feeding the pigs. This is like the worst fate imaginable for a Jew, feeding pigs for a living would be like being a manure inspector where your job was wade through animal excrement and search for bacteria like E.coli before the animal feces can be turned into fertilizer. That is a crappy job. Its only slightly worse than collecting road kill or selling your plasma for money.