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Growing up in Sunday school, I was very familiar with the Prodigal Son—at least as he was rendered in flannelgraph. I disapproved of his behavior with righteous indignation; as the first-born child of a Baptist household, I empathized with the ...

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Displaying 1–6 of 6 comments

Michael acquah

February 23, 2013  3:36am

I see several lessons in the Parable. There's the obvious one of grace, the Father eagerly and joyfully accepting the repentant wayward son, since the bottom line is that Jesus came to seek and to save what was lost (Luke 19:10). But I think the Lord also wanted to show that it is FAITHFULNESS that gets rewarded, like the elder brother's. If you were to visit that home one week or one year after the banquet, you would see that Younger Son was home alright, but likely had nothing. Because remember the father's conclusion: "My child, you have always been with me, and ALL that is mine is YOURS". Everything was for Older Son. Some mistakenly assume that salvation by grace comes with heavenly rewards. Not necessarily (1 Cor 3:12-15). That's what the judgment seat is about: those who get rewards are those who were faithful... like the Elder Son. The extent to which the grace in my life translated into works of faithfulness (1 Cor 15:10), determines whether I'm rewarded, and how richly.

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Charles De Wolf

November 24, 2012  12:02am

As a linguist teaching for decades in a Japanese university, I have sometimes used the Prodigal Son as a readily available text in many languages, including Japanese, Anglo-Saxon, and, of course, New Testament Greek. I would emphasize to the students how familiar the story is in the West and show them Rembrandt's famous painting. (The story was once well enough known to even non-Christian Japanese that they would know the source of the set Sino-Japanese phrase "houtou-musuko" 'prodigal son'. But nowadays many students haven't even heard of Rembrandt, so it is all new to them.) It never occurred to me that anyone would be critical of the Father, but when many were, I expressed my surprise to a wise Jesuit priest I have known for many years. But he too said that he has harbored sympathy for the elder son...I happen to be the eldest child of my parents, but perhaps I feel more like the prodigal...

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david quiroz

February 14, 2012  11:55pm

@Kwon-Why can't the "older son" represent the Pharisees? (Not that it only represents them). In the historical setting in which the parable was given, tax collectors and sinners (analogous to the younger son), as well as, pharisees would have been the audience of that parable. In that setting it would make perfect sense for the "older son" (with his self-righteous behavior towards his Father) to represent the Pharisees. I think we should be as precise as we can be with the scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15), precision brings clarity and understanding, with the opposite (ambiguity), only birthing foggness and confusion. I think the former far better, don't you?

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Terry Spencer

February 13, 2012  3:59pm

Two things about the 0lder brother: One, he received his inheiritance also, as the father divided to "them" their inheritance. The law of primogeniture required this. None of this could have happened without the older son's agreement, including regarding their father as good as dead. And two, the older son was a prodigal who stayed at home. See his attitude, "I've served these many years and you never gave me a party that I might make merry with my friends." There's his assessment of what it was like staying home with his father. Both sons thought life without the father preferable. Both were prodigal and both were sought out by a father who cherished reconciliation above retribution.

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Oun Kwon

February 13, 2012  2:46pm

Why should we take "the elder son = the Pharisees"? Here, Jesus was giving a lesson to make them think it would be applicable very well to them, but not with an equal sign of mathematical precision - especially seeing the Jesus leaves the story 'unfinished'. Don't we have a tendency to look for a solution with neat formulas when trying to understand the text of the Scriptures?

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Christine Thomas

February 13, 2012  12:14pm

I REALLY like this finishing of the story. I've heard the Keller version, but could never reconcile the father's saying "you have always been with me and everything I have is yours" to the older brother with the concept that the older brother referred to the Pharisees...those outside of grace. Yes, he was missing the boat, but still was not outside the family, and the promise of the Father was still his. This "hosting" interpretation is valuable. Thanks.

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