Luke 15:11-32 New International Version
The Parable of the Faithful Brother (or the Prodigal Son, the Lost Son, the Running Father, Loving Father)
My commentary is embedded below (designated by a vertical line).
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
Since the time of Moses, the Jewish people had laws of inheritance meant to preserve family heritages. The son’s request was a very foolish, unbiblical and non-traditional.
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. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Running to meet someone meant hiking up your tunic and thus was considered very undignified. The greatest of the Father’s joy meant he ran without regard to what others might think.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
Jewish custom said the reaction (Kenneth Bailey, The Cross & the Prodigal) would be to perform the Kezazah Ceremony. The community would break a large pot in from of the prodigal and yell, “You are now cut off from your people!” Thus, the returning prodigal would be shunned by the entire community. This created a chilling community effect and no doubt prevented many a child from lapsing into sin. But Jesus is teaching a greater lesson : that eternal life/damnation is so critical that we must overcome our customs and traditions and welcome back the repentant.
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
“The Return of the Prodigal Son” by Rembrandt, painted within the last two years before his death in 1669.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
Scripture from New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.