Parable of the Prodigal Son - a re-reading of the parable

What is the most popular parable of Jesus?
Surely the answer is the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

It is true that this is the most popular story of Jesus.
You might have heard a lot of sermons based on this beautiful story.
I too have preached at many occasions on this parable.

But let me assure you that what you are going to hear now in this video contains new information on the story.
This sermon is a re reading of the parable.
So please patiently continue to read this study.

Luke chapter 15 is a lost and found chapter.
Jesus narrates more than one story based on the theme of lost and found.

·        The first story is about a lost and found sheep.
·        The second is about a lost found coin.
·        And the third is about a lost and found son.

The first two parables contain nonhuman beings – one parable is about a sheep and the second is about a coin.
Only the third story contains human beings.
The story is about a father and his two sons.

Through these stories Jesus was trying to explain the joy in heaven when a lost is found.
Heaven rejoice whenever a lost is found.

That means this story has something to do with the heavenly kingdom.
It speaks about the character of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Keeping this analogy let us make a fresh and new approach to the parable.
As I told you before, this is a re-reading of the parable.

The house of the father is nothing but the Kingdom of God.
The father represents God and the King.

In the story the father had two sons.
We are not sure why he had only two sons; but he had two sons.

Some theologians have attributed an allegorical interpretation to the story.
They argue that the two sons are the Old Testament Church and the New Testament Church.

I am not the kind of person for any allegorical interpretations.
Allegorical interpretations are valuable tools in the hand of expert theologians and dangerous weapon in the hand of uneducated and uninspired preachers.
I, personally do not go much for allegorical interpretations.
So let us keep those interpretations aside for a while.

For me the two sons represent two groups of people connected with the Kingdom of God.

They are living in the father’s house.
They are called sons in the parable.
Both have an equal inheritance in the Kingdom.

But unfortunately something went wrong with the second son.
He disliked living under the Lordship of the father.

Finance was not the real problem with him
Because he had the freedom to spend from his father’s wealth for a well living.

Later in the parable we read the father ordering his servants to give him a ring.

Now, ring in this story is not an ordinary ring.
It has a function to perform in the financial transactions.
It was the credit card of the time.

The ring was not a plain ring; it had a special design on it.
Like the design of the armour or shield of the feudal lords, this ring was also engraved with a special design.
The family emblem was engraved on it.
So the ring worked as a symbol and delegated authority of the father.
The ring with the special design of the house is a sign that the wearer has an inheritance to the wealth of his father.
The bearer of the ring possessed the delegated authority of the father.

The son could go out to any shop and buy anything from the shop without paying any money.
Instead of paying money, he could simply stamp the ring on the soft clay kept by the shopkeeper.
Later the shopkeeper will present the clay with the stamp of the design from the ring and claim the money from the father.

The son could spend any amount of money from his father’s wealth.
But the father oversees everything.
The father gets a report of his purchases from the merchants.
Thus he could understand the way of life he leads.

The father may check the ways of life of his sons.
He may give instructions to live in a particular way or to avoid another way of life.
Father always exercised his Lordship over his sons.
The second son disliked the Lordship of the father.

So money was not the real problem.
He wanted to live a free life without any control.
He might have had a wish for worldly life and sinful ways.
The father was against it.
He could not live such a life as long as he lives in the father’s house.

The father is the Lord of the house.
The father always exercises his Lordship in the house.

So the real problem was the Lordship of the father.
He disliked living under the Lordship of his father.

Some of our Christian brothers and sisters are like him.
They claim that they are born again and living in the father’s house.
The father is spending for them from his wealth.
They are enjoying manifold blessings from the father.
But they live without the instructions of the father.
There is always a rift between the father and these people.

They argue that salvation is freedom to live as they like without any strings tied to them.
They deny and reject the Lordship of the father.
They argue against the Lordship of the Master.

Think about the donkey on which Jesus travelled to Jerusalem announcing his royal entrance to the city.
It was tied to a post by its owner before Jesus chose it for his purpose.
He asked his disciples to untie the animal.
Jesus traveled on it.
It is indeed freedom for the donkey.

After the journey Jesus let it free.
Jesus did not tie it again on any other post.

But at the same time, it is lost from the scene for ever.
It remained a blessed animal as long as it was under the Lordship of Jesus.
Once it was free from the Lordship of Jesus, it went away into oblivion.
There is no story about the donkey after the journey.

No strings is freedom, freedom from the Lordship.
But there is no inheritance without the Lordship.
As long as you are tied to your father, you have a legal claim to his wealth.
When you deny the fatherhood you deny the inheritance.

In Romans 10:9 we read how we are born again.

Romans 10: 9  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.   (NKJV)

   യേശുവിനെ കർത്താവു എന്നു വായ് കൊണ്ടു ഏറ്റുപറകയും ദൈവം അവനെ മരിച്ചവരിൽനിന്നു ഉയിർത്തെഴുന്നേല്പിച്ചു എന്നു ഹൃദയംകൊണ്ടു വിശ്വസിക്കയും ചെയ്താൽ നീ രക്ഷിക്കപ്പെടും.

Salvation is obtained through faith and as we confess with our mouth the “Lord Jesus”.
That means we must confess and accept Jesus as our Lord.

No Lordship, no salvation.

Think about the second son in the parable.
He disliked Lordship. So He rejected it.
He collected all his inheritance and wealth and left the father’s house.

It is interesting to note that he went out of the Lordship after collecting the blessings of the father’s house.
He wanted the wealth of his father, but hated his Lordship.

That was the beginning of the end of his prosperous and peaceful life.
Gradually he lost everything he enjoyed in his father’s house.

But this son was not a hardened sinner.
He realized his mistake.
He realized that wealth and blessings are not the real source of peaceful life, but the protection of the father under his Lordship is real life.
Still it is a tragedy that he had to go through all these evil days to learn the significance of the Lordship of the father.
He decided to come back to the Lordship of his father.

See what he decided to say to his father when he returned home:

Luke 15:19 "and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants."  (NKJV)

19   ഇനി നിന്റെ മകൻ എന്ന പേരിന്നു ഞാൻ യോഗ്യനല്ല; നിന്റെ കൂലിക്കാരിൽ ഒരുത്തനെപ്പോലെ എന്നെ ആക്കേണമേ എന്നു പറയും എന്നു പറഞ്ഞു.

It is clear what he means.
The servants are under the Lordship of his father.
They enjoy all the blessings of the father’s house.
They live always prosperous.

He is returning to his father’s Lordship.
He understood that the Lordship of his father is real life.
There is no life away from the father’s Lordship.

As he returned, the father gave him three things:

1.   A rob of son ship.
2.   Sandals to his feet.
Only the master and sons wore outer garments and sandals in the house.
3.   The ring -  the credit card.
The ring is the inheritance of the son to his father’s house.
Despite the second son’s rebellion and abuse of finances, his father still trusts him.
A returned and restored son is as equal as a restored sinner.
The father trusts them.

When we are born again into the father’s house, one of the titles we receive is the stewardship of his wealth.
All sons and daughters in the father’s house are stewards of his wealth.
We have the freedom to manage the wealth, buy and live wisely or foolishly.
But we are accountable to the father for all our dealings.

So be careful how you manage his wealth.
All the blessings you enjoy in your life now are from your father.
You enjoy them only because you are in your father’s house, under his Lordship.
And also all your transactions of the blessings are accountable to him.

The son decided to return to his father and accept his Lordship.
And he received a grand welcome back.

Jesus came to this world not to condemn us.
He came to justify us and restore us into the Kingdom.
Jesus came to seek and save the lost sheep.

A sinner and a backslider are both lost sheep.
One rebels the Lordship of Jesus from his birth and another rejected the Lordship after once entering into the Kingdom.
Jesus came for both of them.
Heaven is not happy to send away anyone, but rejoices when a person comes back to it.

A garment, a sandal and a ring is ready for all who return to the Kingdom.

What the father did after this is more interesting and important.

He asked his servants to kill an animal and arrange a peace meal.
The animal is killed to shed the blood and the meal is arranged to confirm the restoration of his son.

The feast he arranged is a covenant meal.
A new covenant was established in between the father and his son.
A covenant of Lordship was established between them.

The blood of the animal is for the remission of the sins of the son.
The blood sealed the covenant between the father and the son.
It was a new covenant of peace between the Lord and a sinner.
The feast is to affirm the covenant.

It was a tradition in the ancient Biblical days to conduct a covenant meal after entering into a covenant between two parties.
Thus Jacob had a meal with his cousin Laban.

The father and the son entered into a new covenant of peace.
The blood of the animal sealed the covenant.
The supper affirmed the covenant.

The eldest son was not happy with this covenant.
So he refused to participate in the covenant meal.

The elder son had nothing to do with the killing of an animal and shedding the blood to seal the covenant.
The father did it all.
The father arranged the sacrificial animal.

But the covenant meal is different.
All those affirm the covenant of peace between the father and the restored son should join the supper.
Those who stand out express their disagreement with the covenant of peace.
The eldest son disagreed with the new covenant of peace between the restored son and the father.
He stood out and rebelled.

The first son lost the opportunity to reconcile with his younger brother.
His father reconciled with his son.
The servants in the house accepted the peace covenant by participating in it.
But the elder son rejected the proposal of reconciliation with his brother.

So he was left alone in the darkness.

Still the supper and the celebration went on.
The father did not stop it.
Because the son was once lost and now found.
It is a time of joy and celebration in heaven.

The story of the eldest son is really sad.
He spent nothing for the restoration of his brother.
He missed nothing by the restoration of his brother.
Still he rebelled.

He rebelled and stood in the dark, outside the father’s house without joy and supper.

He was a religious boy who always obeyed his father.
But he lived under the Lordship of his father only because the law.
The law insisted that he should accept the Lordship of his father.
So accepted the Lordship of his father.
But it was not an acceptance with his heart; it was only obedience to the law.

 Whereas, the second son came back voluntarily to his father.
He realized the mystery behind the Lordship of his father.
He decided to stay with his father.


This is the pith of the story.

Stay with the father.
Come back to the father, if you are away from him.
Live under his Lordship.
Participate in the covenant meal that restores peace between God and man.
And live a blessed life.

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