Updated: Feb 5
Over the past few weeks I have been pondering on and writing about the parable Jesus told that is commonly known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Welcome home son. I hope you are hungry, because we are preparing a fatted calf barbecue just for you!
I am about finished with my analysis of the Greek text and the translation commonly read in churches (the New International Version) and I am astounded at what has been missed. As the analysis is (so far, unedited) over twenty-five pages, I will not go into that depth here and now. In fact, I will not be publishing that dissertation on Word Press; so (for those who place value on their “interest” in Scripture and the concept of “Christianity”) I challenge the reader here to ponder this parable personally, with only a few “ponder tips” to think about.
First, do not read this parable (found in Luke 15) as if it is a Disney remake of Pinocchio.
There are no magical fairies, talking crickets, or wooden boys that mysteriously change to human boys to consider. As a parable, it is totally metaphoric, thus not to be read as if the message should be taken totally literally. The metaphor in Luke 15 is not the same as the metaphor in a fairy tale, even if the storyline is similar.
Second, look at the audience Jesus was telling this parable to and understand why he was going in this metaphorical direction.
That reason is defined early in Luke 15, prior to this parable’s verses beginning. [Hint: Closely read Luke 15:1-3.]
Third, realize that Jesus told two set-up “what if” scenarios (parables), involving a sheep and a coin, which must be seen as the format matching the parable about a a father with two sons. This is most important and is easily missed from all three parables in Luke 15 not being read in church together, to support the meaning found in the main one. The same “what was lost has been found” moral has to be paramount to redemption, because sheep and coins cannot beg for forgiveness. They simply have a purpose that does not serve their owner by being lost. [Hint: Realize the Father is the owner of two sons.]
Fourth, stop placing too much focus on the wayward son.
It is the elder son that is the reason Jesus told this parable. The Greek word “presbyteros” is translated as “elder,” but realize that Strong’s says about the root word: “An elder, a member of the Sanhedrin, an elder of a Christian assembly.” That should be a “golly gee willikers” kind of epiphany.
That oversight makes this parable fall into the category of the story of Jesus entering the Temple and seeing a Pharisee and a tax collector, with the Pharisee boasting in prayer and the tax collector silently repenting.
The moral of that story is similar to this in the prodigal son, but go to a church and find a priest pointing out the sins of the Pharisee! That message cannot be found anywhere, because all eyes are on the one Jesus said was “closer to heaven” (“went home justified before God”) as being the sinner repenting. No one realizes that repentance (being “justified” as “pleading for righteousness“) is still not getting one into heaven. “Closer” gets no rewards. It simply says, step one (admitting one has a problem) is the first of a thousand miles of steps.
No priest alive ever sees him or herself as the boasting Pharisee!!! It was the Pharisee that was boasting as a priest on the steps of the Temple, so it was expected that he would talk loudly for the others to hear!!! The priest (Pharisee) cast guilt upon the others, causing them to silently pray for forgiveness, but the priest (Pharisee) never saw himself as a flawed human being in need of repentance. Therefore, it is imperative to read the prodigal son parable with the same eyes that focus on the elder son (“presbyteros“), not the one who was “justified” and in the Father’s house. [Hint: The elder son is just like the Pharisee who boasted.]
I hope some will do as I ask and ponder this parable. If anyone does and has questions, then feel free to ask. I bark a lot, but I do not bite. The saying, “Silence is golden” is crap fed to the sheep by false shepherds. That guideline led the tax collector-sinner to silently repent. However, spreading the Gospel is how everyone gets on the same page of truth. Reaching the Father’s house does not come from the silence of the lambs.
Ssssshhhh. Don’t get close to his mouth or he will eat you alive!
This leads to my final suggestion. See if you can get a feel for how I write all these articles about Scripture as the shepherd that left 99 sheep to go search for the one lost. If you can, then that is a good sign.
See if you can get the feel for me being like the woman who searched the whole house for one lost coin, because the other nine were not missing. The ten coins are each like parables in Scripture, where all are equally valuable. Me delving into the lost meaning of one is not for my benefit, but for those that value will help. I am not writing for the worldly profit one lost coin represents.
See if there is a sense in your heart that I write for the sinners and prostitutes of the world who know they need help, but have never found anyone willing to come find them. I eat with the hidden sinners that look to the Internet for the good news, rather than gather as pewples in a churchly sheepfold. It is so easy to boast about what you know and where you learned it (sheepskin diplomas of divinity), while not worrying about who is listening, because one thinks one is blessed by the wealth and knowledge of God’s favor (never feeling a need to slip outside one’s priestly fence and mingle with the wildly downtrodden).
See if it is within your core being to say something … anything … to one who is searching for someone lost. Even if you are not lost, maybe you can help lead me to one who is?
To put this in the perspective of the parable of the prodigal son: Will you run to greet my article of revelation with open arm hugs and kisses (likes and loves)? Or will you come out of the fields and ask someone else, “How does he know anything? Look at him? No one ever comments when I post a meme!”