Meaning in the Prodigal Son Parable
All I could do was look at his shoes. The preacher said Repent, Repent, Repent with perfect cadence. Turn from your wicked ways. His gray boating shoes moved across the stage in perfect heel-toe rhythm. You are completely selfish; He is perfectly giving. He died for your sins. Return to God. His shoes stopped and waited. Individuals made their way to the foot of the stage and knelt.
Is this how New Testament Christianity is supposed to work? In the New Testament, the Greek word used for repentance is metanoia, which means 'change one's mind'. Bailey indicates that the prodigal changed his mind from thinking that he must pay back his debt to his new thinking of accepting being found. "Accepting being found" appears awkwardly worded;however, Bailey's intent is to show that it's the father's active love that restores his son. The son's passive role is to accept his father.
Jesus told the lost sheep, the lost coins, and the lost sons as one parable with repentance as its theme. At the end of both the lost sheep and the lost coin, the text says, "There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents..." This begs the questions: What did the sheep do to repent? What did the coin to to repent? What did the prodigal to to repent?
Jesus' definition of repentance was a challenge to his audience then as it is now. His original audience defined repentance in these terms: confess your sin, repay it, and commit to not sinning again. In today's language: Turn or burn. Jesus realizes that we don't have the desire to turn from our ways and that we certainly don't have the willpower. Of the heart patients who have been told by their doctors if they don't stick to a healthy diet they will surely die, only 5% are compliant.
The prodigal wished his father dead, leaving home without ever intending on returning. It took the father's loving actions to change his thinking, turning his dead heart into a vibrant one. Metanioa. He was transformed.Next - The Lost Sheep