Friday, April 26, 2019

A New Twists on The Parable of the Prodigal Son.

The challenge of being a pastor and loving reading is that number of books that come out every year that I cannot possibly keep up.  There is a new commentary out on Luke that looks promising out by Eerdmans.  I saw this post on the Eerdmans blog.  Here are the author's sees a different twist on the parable of the Prodigal Son.

No Gospel includes more parables of Jesus than Luke, many of them unique to this book, such as stories of the Good Samaritan, Rich Fool, Prodigal Son, Rich Man and Lazarus, and the Pharisee and Tax Collector. While interpreters readily admit that Jesus told such tales not to amuse people or simply attract their attention, but to challenge them and shake them out of common misconceptions of God’s realm, contemporary readers still routinely settle into comfortable, well-worn paths of understanding. To be true, however, to Jesus’s and Luke’s intentions, it’s important to recover some of the shocking punch behind the parables.
With the Prodigal Son story, for example, arguably the most familiar of Jesus’s parables, its usual interpretation as an evangelistic sermon, inviting outsider-sinners into God’s saving family, needs to be expanded in my judgment. Though a powerful story of forgiveness and restoration, it is rooted within a broken family circle. It is a story of a wayward son who comes back home to a gracious father and a jealous older brother. All three characters figure prominently as models of waste. All three are prodigal.

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector A contemporary watercolor painted by artist Peter Gallen.

The younger son tragically wastes his inheritance and place in a secure family, as he hits rock bottom in a pig sty in a foreign land (15:11-20).
  • Joyously, however, he finds wholehearted welcome back home due to the extravagant wasteful love of his longing, hugging, kissing, banquet-throwing father, who is less interested in his son’s confession of sin than in his simple presence back with the family (15:20-24).
  • Yet the dutiful, calculating older son can’t bring himself to join in the reunion party, thereby wasting a golden opportunity for celebration of restored life. Working within a tit-for-tat, zero-sum economy, he assumes that his little brother’s undeserved gain is his unfortunate loss (15:25-30).Lost—wasted—in this perspective is the father’s inclusive view of shared family relationships and resources: “Son, you are always with me, and all that mine is yours” (15:31). What a powerful, capacious picture of the economy of God’s kingdom!

Find the rest of the blog post here.

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