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.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

William Shedd On the Necessity of Divine Simplicity

I am reading Dogmatic Theology by Willliam Shedd this year.  I came across this paragraph on the necessity of divine simplicity:

Although trinal, divine essence is simple, not compound. In this respect, the unity of the finite spirit resembles that of the infinite. The spirit of man is not composed of two substances. It is homogeneous. It is all spirit. A material unity is complex, being composed of a variety of elementary substances. Hence, there are varieties of matter, but not of spirit. By reason of its incomplexity and simplicity, divine essence is indivisible. Not being made up, as matter is, of diverse parts or properties, it cannot be divided or analyzed into them: “The nature of the Trinity is denominated simple, because it has not anything which it can lose and because it is not one thing and its contents another, as a cup and the liquor, or a body and its color, or the air and the light and heat of it” (Augustine, City of God 11.10). Shedd, W. G. T, Dogmatic Theology, p223.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

What Does the Cross Overcome?

“God did not need to change his mind about us on account of the cross or on any other account. He did not need to have his mind changed. He was never opposed to us. It is not his opposition to us but our opposition to him that had to be overcome, and the only way it could be overcome was from God’s side, by God’s initiative, from inside human flesh–the human flesh of the Son. The divine hostility, or wrath of God, has always been an aspect of his love. It is not separate from God’s love, it is not opposite God’s love, it is not something in God that had to be overcome” Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion, 323.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him.  And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”  And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.  Mat 20:29-34 ESV

I was struck by this passage in my morning reading.  First, Jesus is not enamored by the crowds but stops to help the seemingly insignificant, the two blind men.  The crowds rebuked the blind men for interrupting Jesus but Jesus ministered to them.  Those whom the crowds reject Jesus heals!  Are you enamored with the crowds yet bothered by the insignificant and problem people in your life?

The two blind men call Jesus, Lord and Son of David.  They refer to him with Messianic titles because they recognized he was the Messiah and looked for him to alleviate their suffering, they trusted him.  While many of the common and ignorant folk recognized Jesus as the Messiah, most of the religious leaders outright rejected him to the end.  Though the former may have misunderstood his Messianic mission, like most of us, they still saw him as the Messiah.

Jesus let his schedule be interrupted.  He stopped in his tracks to help those who were suffering.  Jesus was leaving Jericho and traveling to Jerusalem yet interrupted his 'schedule' to help the suffering.  His schedule was flexible enough to stop and help those he met along the way.  He was sensitive to the needs of the suffering.

Finally, when they were healed they followed him, they became his disciples.  What a great ending!  He let his schedule be interrupted by those who bothered the crowds, alleviated their suffering, and in the end, they became his disciples.  The whole event had one great goal, to fulfill his mission.  Maybe I need to learn something from this story?