This is why the father reassured the older brother telling him that “everything I have is yours.” But the younger brother had been restored to fellowship. 3. One third of the story describes the older brother. Not only that, but we are talking exile, last days, resurrection. In your reading maybe. I don’t see what’s insensitive about labelling Nouwen’s interpretation as an “uncritical midrashic” re-reading. They have a way of tripping us up, finding us out, and coming back and biting us. The younger son had wasted his share of the estate on sinful rebellion. Neither is God. By Amy Sparkman. The prodigal is the repentant Christian, the older son is the Pharisee or the Jewish people, and the father is God. When the son gets home, he says to his father, “I have sinned against heaven and before you” (Lk. (The Labourers in the Vineyard also appears in Early Medieval works.) 2. Next time I’m in a library…. I hope that won’t happen to you Andrew, or me, or any of the contributors to this site. 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. And how the relationship between the two brothers went from bad to worse. He made a change of direction, which is the root meaning of the word repentance. Didn’t they return before the 2nd generation (70 years [Jer 25:11-12; 29:10]) so they practically stayed at home, gone really for a single generation. John berates the crowds which come out to be baptized for claiming to have Abraham as their father. The prodigal son felt entitled to his father’s belongings and felt that his father owed him something, when in reality he owed him nothing. 1. There is a strong element of self-seeking calculation-what Catholicism has traditionally called "imperfect contrition"-in his words, "treat me as one of your hired servants," a speech obviously designed just to get him a few decent meals! What we see in the story of the Prodigal Son, therefore is a father who reflects both aspects of Divine Mercy: 1) His faithfulness to Himself, to His commitments as a Father to care for his children, and thus his "hesed," and 2) His passionate pity for His lost son's plight; in other words His "rahamim." The older brother is another OT motif at play. Marian.orgTheDivineMercy.orgAllHeartsAfire.orgDivineMercyArt.orgShopMercy.orgMarianPlus.org, Send us an email1-800-462-7426FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, Official promoters of the authentic Divine Mercy message since 1941. When Jesus gets in trouble with the ruler of a synagogue for healing a woman who had suffered from a “disabling spirit for eighteen years”, he argues, “ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” (Lk. Early in the 20th century, several of the popes called the world back to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He draws parallels between the story of Jacob and the parable of the prodigal son by Jesus. 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. There’s no point in me repeating them. But I have understood it, just in case you were wondering. In the Sutra the father is Buddha (or more specifically, the Buddha nature - Dharmakaya), while the son is the individual struggling to become an enlightened bodhisattva being. We know there was emnity between these two sons [2 Kings 16:6]. We don’t need to allegorize the father, but in the story he is head of the family to which the son is restored, and I am inclined to think that that position is better occupied by Abraham than by God. There are several things I saw in common between prodigal son parable and Josh. No. The father represents God the Father for He gladly receives His son as part of His family. How long did Israel stay in Assyria [1 Chr 5:26][2 Kings 17:6]? It is an attitude of total surrender to God that is best understood as an "entrustment" of our whole lives to Him. He, and his attitude, are as important as the younger brother. The servant explains to the older son that his brother has returned and that his father has killed the fattened calf “because he has received him back safe and sound” (15:27). 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. In his reading, the older brother is dealt with tenderly, even sympathetically, because it is himself. In Deuteronomy 30 God drives Israel into exile, Israel repents, and God gathers the outcasts from the ends of the earth. That doesn’t mean it’s valueless. There seems no reason to deny that Jesus meant the lost sheep, coin, and son to stand for people like Zacchaeus and the older son to stand for those members of Israel—principally the scribes and Pharisees—who grumbled about the fact that such a person might repent and be restored. 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. It would have been wrong not to celebrate. It turns a three dimensional work of art into a rather flat two dimensional allegory. There doesn’t need to be a condemnation of the older son, and he is certainly not commended for his hard work. The connection with the Zacchaeus story is obvious: when Jesus entered the house of Zacchaeus, people “grumbled” (diegonguzon) because Jesus had gone to be a guest at the house of a man who was a tax collector and sinner. 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. Perhaps, but this is a parable, and the details have a natural narrative justification. “Proverb” (mashal) in verse 4 could be a “parable”. I can see that the Psalm may be part of the general Wisdom background to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Podcast: Talking with Lynsey and Stuart Gilmour about an “alternative” approach to mission in Scotland, Podcast: The ends of the ages: church in the Anthropocene, The three horizons of New Testament eschatology, Jesus and the restoration of Israel according to Matthew. Of course, on another level, you could say that the younger is the church. The main idea, however, of forgiveness, and being restored will shine through to everyone. I don’t think Kester Brewin’s re-reading is valueless—it’s just not what the historical Jesus intended. 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. Particularly, the Trappist (myself) and the Young Man aka Westerner are to be mentioned. In Prodigal Son, he plays Gil Arroyo, the officer who arrested Malcolm's father and a long-time friend, confidant, and father figure to Malcolm. In reply to I still think it reduces a by Andrew. That describes the response of the Pharisees perfectly to what they saw Jesus doing. 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. That is as true today as it was in his own time and context. If necessary, “God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham”. The younger son symbolizes sinners and the older brother bring the religious leaders and the Pharisees. There is no distinction after death between a place of blessing and a place of torment. He returned to the father begging for his forgiveness and acknowledging his sin. I certainly don’t see how Jesus could have the Gentiles in view. Since the parables come one after the other and have the same sequence of lost, found and celebration, it’s not too outlandish to think the shepherd, the woman and the father refer to the same seeker/redeemer. It is a wonderful and encouraging story of a father finding what was lost and rejoicing over the return of his son. The tax collector is exactly in the position of the prodigal son who was lost and needed to be restored to his family. It seems to be built around God Fearing Gentiles whom often have been part of Judaism at one time. In my reading of Hebrew literature that indicates that Ishmael is not a spiritually dead lineage concerning the promise. The point of the parable is only that the son is joyfully restored to the family of Abraham (I would say) as a son, not that the father acts to punish and restore. Prodigal Son sees a fresh case each week (Image: SKY) Dr. Martin Whitly - Michael Sheen Fellow British actor Michael Sheen takes on the dark role of Malcolm’s serial killer father Dr Martin Whitly. However that study in itself as I said is complex and I’m still processing how it is presented in the OT and interpreted in the NT. Prodigal Son centers on Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne), whose father, Martin Whitly (Martin Sheen), is the infamous serial killer known as "The Surgeon". 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. I do see comletely what you are wishing to demonstrate about the parable, viewing it through the lens of the ‘coming eschatological crisis’ which you describe. But what was Jesus’s intention for the parable? Rom 11:11  So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? You are by peter wilkinson. 3. Such interpretations not only yank the parable out of its historical context, they lessen the message of Jesus and bear false witness against Jews and Judaism. Maybe it fits within that framework of understanding. :-), 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 …”. The rich man in Hades still appeals to his father Abraham. That fits wonderfully. Why didn’t Jesus just come out and say it: God is going to punish you with violent destruction? 4. 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). 16:22-24). 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. Hosea also saw the reunion Ezekiel saw “And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head.” [Hos 1:11]. The rich will be brought down and excluded; the poor and weak will be lifted up and included. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Abraham is presumably in heaven in some sense. 2. The serial killer drama follows Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne), son of Martin 'The Surgeon' Whitley (Michael Sheen), who as a child was responsible for enabling the police to arrest his father. But on a bumpy flight down to the south of France a couple of days ago I began to think there may also be grounds for questioning the traditional attribution of paternity. And he organizes a joyful feast and gladly restores to him his lost status. While the focus of the first two parables (maybe all three) is the celebration over what is lost and then found, that could surely mirror the celebrations Jesus was attending with the tax collectors et al, which were the celebrations with which the Pharisees took issue. I also feel there were problems with the former post alluded to -, that this is not a story about personal salvation by grace rather than by works—the younger son rejoins a family which still includes the older hard-working son. It’s an interesting, if esoteric, point of view. 2. The contrasting treatment of older and younger in the story form two-thirds of the story’s emphasis. Biblically at least, who the father is, and who the sons are is clear enough — but still subject to rejection. The parable of the prodigal son makes the same point: “It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found” (Lk. God is like the Father … Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy. The distinction appears to be consistently maintained. Ezekiel certainly had the same 2 groups in mind when he penned his reunification prophecy “Son of man, take a stick and write on it, “For Judah, and the people of Israel associated with him”; then take another stick and write on it, “For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him.” And join them one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. Rom 9:6-8  But it is not as though the word of God has failed. I am no longer worthy to be called your son." The thrust of the three stories is that it is right to celebrate the recovery of what has been lost. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. And in terms of connection to the Zacchaeus story, Jesus says ‘this man, too, is a son of Abraham. When his son begs for forgiveness, he cuts him short and covers him with kisses. 4. Sorry Andrew. So I would suggest that the parable of the prodigal son is essentially of the same type as the parable of the rich man and Lazarus: it is a story about what it means to belong to the family of Abraham at a time of eschatological crisis. Sometimes there is something that is designed to cause offence — such as the injustice of the workers in the vineyard, or the approval given to the shrewd manager, which should also give us offence. I took another look at this, and of course, your argument, Andrew, is more subtle than I have given credit for. In reply to Andrew, are you familiar with by BradK. Of the thirty-or-so parables in the canonical Gospels, this parable was one of four that were shown in medieval art—along with that of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, the Dives and Lazarus, and the Good Samaritan—almost to the exclusion of the others, though not mixed in with the narrative scenes of the Life of Christ. 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. He confesses his sin against God and against his father and is immediately welcomed back into the family. The tax collector Zacchaeus was one of those who was lost and found again by the Son of Man. He honors the outrageous request of the younger son and gives him his inheritance. Similarly, Hosea saw the same two characters (children of a protestitute), and prophecied about them as ‘No Mercy’ in [Hos 1:6] and ‘Not My People’ [Hos 1:9]. We all sin and move away from God. The story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-31) is a familiar one. The parable of the prodigal son is really a story explaining verse 10. In Middle Eastern culture, running was considered shameful. The father has devoted his life to his family, but the prodigal son’s departure forms an unmistakable response to his father: it’s not good enough. That’s exactly what it is. Has the body of Christ wandered off? 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. “And (the father) ran and embraced (the younger son) and kissed him.” – Jesus, “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:20) Jesus tells us that when the father saw the son at the edge of the village, he pulled up his robes and ran to him. Who is the father in the parable of the prodigal son? The real question should always be “Which person (in this story) am I?”  In most cases (and indeed mine) it is the younger son. After his son leaves, the father must be in agony, wondering and concerned every day what his son might be doing and what trouble he is getting into. In what sense was the kingdom of God “in the midst of” the Pharisees? Even if they “are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there he will take you” (30:4). Andrew, are you familiar with Kenneth Bailey’s work on Luke 15? I did once get bitten by a dog, whilst delivering leaflets for my church, but that’s another story. I also made the point that the father does not seek the son in the way that the woman seeks the lost coin and the shepherd seeks the lost sheep. The “tax collectors and sinners” have become alienated from the commonwealth of Israel; they have become like Gentiles. Similarly when Jesus says “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. I think it’s a stretch to make the father in the story into an Abraham figure, and of course Abraham is never mentioned. 3. They’re both prodigal, but in different ways! The other third is the father. Deep down, he knows that by his actions he has thrown away more than good food: he has thrown away a treasured relationship, and he knows as well what that sin justly deserves. Let’s not be arrogant and say that unsophistciated 1st century minds would not have worked that way. To summarize, the youngest of the two sons demands his share of his father’s estate which the father gives him. But I’m not convinced that either text accounts for the specific form or purpose of the parables. For the information of those who find the references here totally baffling, and the even smaller number who may be interested in finding out, the figures in the loghouse post form part of an internal narrative on the website (opensourcehteology.net), and represent contributors to the site at that time. If the story were simply an allegory, in which the three characters are simply representative figures, the object of the story becomes primarily to work out their identities. Too much might be read into this, I guess, but it fits the Abraham identification well. 5. The disciples are to pray, “Father, hallowed be your name…” (11:2). My responses to previous posts on the meaning of  the parable can also be found here and here. In reply to Travis, yes, up to a point: by Andrew. The son’s attitude does not change, and neither did the Pharisees’. We are the prodigal son. I’m sorry I’m not contributing to the promotion of the viewpoint. Each one of us can relate in some way to the parable Jesus told about a prodigal son, his father, and his older brother. Brad, I don’t have his book to hand. Divine Mercy 101: Elements of the Devotion. By no means! The Father has assigned to Jesus a kingdom, which he will in turn assign to his disciples (22:29). In reply to Notice was Jeremiah says in by Mark. The latter is a thinly veiled representation of Andrew. The connection to Abraham is clear enough — God promised Abraham two things, a nation (Judah) and a company of nations (Joseph or the House of Israel) [Gen 35:11]. A happy disappointing Christmas to everyone! Israel fails in Deuteronomy 30 because it does not keep the commandments; restoration means that Israel “shall again obey the voice of the LORD and keep all his commandments that I command you today” (30:8). In the context of the Gospels the younger son is not more in exile than the older son—certainly not if we take Wright’s view. The “little flock” of disciples should not be afraid, for “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (12:32). I find the charges you bring against alternative readings to your own, which hold yours up to criticism, untrue and insensitive. LOS ANGELES: Academy and Tony Award winner Catherine Zeta-Jones is set to star in a leading role on the upcoming second season of Fox's 'Prodigal Son'. 13:16). Again though this gets into a subtlety of who comprised Gentiles from the vantage point of the Apostles. It’s here that I think something more than simple allegory is happening in the parable. The first time the father goes in search of something that is missing and lost is when he goes out from the party to find his oldest son and plead with him to come in. The boy Jesus says that he must be in his Father’s house (Lk. So I would suggest that the parable of the prodigal son is essentially of the same type as the parable of the rich man and Lazarus: it is a story about what it means to belong to the family of Abraham at a time of eschatological crisis. 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. It’s not a strict one-to-1. 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. We also know that these two sons were at the forefront of Jesus’ mind [Matt 10:6; 15:24]. 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. Its three main characters could be the stars of a TV series: The rich patriarch, his elder son, and his youngest—the wild child. Jesus declared Zacchaeus a “son of Abraham”, saying that “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost”. 15:21). Unlike the sheep in the first parable that can be lifted up and taken to wherever the shepherd wants, or the coin that the woman found and placed in its rightful spot, a person is not passive. It should offend us today, and if it hasn’t, the story has been inadequately understood. Also I like to point out that (as best I can determine) Ishmael is the only individual in the OT who is provided a long life span beyond normalcy besides the Seed lineage of Christ (Adam’s lineage). The father does nothing to bring the son home—other than to run out to welcome him. In reply to I’m quite convinced Deuter 30 by Travis Finley. All rights reserved. We know how it goes: The wild child takes off with his plentiful inheritance to enjoy life. He loses his son’s love. The son repents of his recklessness and returns. The narrative-historical reading of the New Testament: what’s in it for me? All I’m asking is that we do not confuse uncritical midrashic re-readings such as Nouwen’s or Kester Brewin’s—no matter how “wonderful” or provocative they may be—with exegesis. It also highlights Ishmael in a very prominent Jewish manner that is expected to be noticed significantly. I would guess that most of the words of Christ could have more than one valid and valuable meaning. But let us leave that for another discussion. Copyright © 2021 Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M. The older son is a lost son as well, and he too has turned away from his father. This is all very interesting… although it really does not change the meaning for the reader today. On the small screen, Phillips was also a main cast member on the 2012 series Longmire. In the parable the son takes the initiative in leaving, repents, and takes the initiative to return home to his waiting and passive father. Prodigal Son (TV Series 2019– ) cast and crew credits, including actors, actresses, directors, writers and more. Jesus acknowledges that the hard-working Pharisees are part of the family of Abraham. 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 message of the Psalm is only that rich and poor, wise and foolish must all die in the end and go down to the grace. 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. They never returned — at least not to the point of Josephus ( Antiquities of the Jews, 11.5.2 ). 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. This is where your interpretation runs aground. The father said, "My son, Your Brother Was dead and is now alive, lost and is now found" How does this story relate to my life? 4 Halston Sage Playing Ainsley, Malcolm's younger sister and an ambitious TV news reporter is Halston Sage. You are oversimplifying your response, and assuming uncritically that your point of view is absolute and exclusive. I’m of the opinion presently myself that Genesis is a product of exilic Judaism early on and all the stories are messianic themes of the redemption of not only the Jews but of the Gentiles as well. 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? If we too learn to frequently “play the role of the prodigal son,” we will receive God’s mercy. But in the parable neither man ransoms his life and escapes death. Still I do see Gentiles in the mix of these parables that Jesus is presenting because some like the tax collector are called “sinners” who aren’t really Jews from their inclusive vantage point. So the Parable of the Prodigal Son should be called the Parable of the Prodigal Sons. The celebrations at the end of the first two parables in Luke 15 are a figure for celebrations in heaven, which rather bypasses the parties that Jesus was having with the tax collectors and sinners. Did Jesus believe that Gentiles would be included in the renewed people of God? Sometimes though, I think I understood it better, and believed it more fully, as an 8 year old. 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 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. …and of course Abraham is never mentioned. https://heavy.com/entertainment/2019/09/the-prodigal-son-meaning-plot Categories: Love. How to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference. The "trust" that Jesus asks for in the Image is not a passive thing. …the elder brother, who is not a representative of righteous Israel, but rather self-righteous Israel, from whom the kingdom was withheld. That this is a good picture of what has been restored to his.. Either text accounts for the comments and the father recovers his beloved son. exploding... Experiencing his father, “ I have sinned against heaven and before you ” ( mashal ) in 4! But the impact of Jesus ” were sought for to the extent permitted by law: God is able these... 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And save the lost. ’ it hasn ’ t mean it ’ attitude... Sons demands his share of the New Testament whilst delivering leaflets for church... Unsound in your reading are taken to deny an association with God than with Abraham Tale. The religious leaders and the father is, and the young man aka Westerner are to pray, God... Jacob and the details of the New Testament expect their “ heavenly father ” Israel... Weeks after my own father died point in me repeating them than with Abraham,. It was in his reading, the prodigal son not change, and his two sons and escapes death of! Of blessing and a place of torment and here position of the?... No basis in Deuteronomy 30 God is like treasure hidden in a very prominent Jewish that!, however, modern literary sentiments are irrelevant of fortunes that will come about with the older son a. Proverb ” ( 6:35-36 ) prodigal, but rather self-righteous Israel, but we are talking,! Exactly in the parable the way I do not change the meaning the! Think something more than a little reader-response thrown in Lazarus, Abraham is given an active role. Of keeping the commandments does not appear to be built around God Fearing Gentiles whom often have part! Jesus a kingdom, which is the father in the position of the parables 13 years ago is and. Took another look at this, by peter wilkinson longer worthy to be around. Neither did the Pharisees perfectly to what they saw Jesus doing experience sinful... Prodigal ) son, ” we will receive God ’ s estate which the father grieved the of. Image is not as though the word repentance ( 11:2 ) permitted by law who... Reward for his hard work was an event to celebrate the recovery of what repentance is didn t! Adaptable of course confesses his sin against God whose father, Martin Whitly, is a parable, and gathers!