Part 2 - Prodigal Doesn't Repent
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Now in the far country in the midst of a famine, the prodigal finds himself out of money and starving. Then we are told "he came to himself" and in other translations it says "he came to his senses". Seemingly this is the turning point. But is this an accurate translation? According to Dr. Ken Bailey, for the first thousand years, the universal Arabic translation was not that “he came to his senses” but rather that "he returned to himself (nepash)" or more specifically "he would depend on himself". Had the son repented, Jesus would have used the Hebrew word Shub, meaning "return to God."
The son is planning on paying back his debt himself. He's not offering to become a slave, but rather a skilled craftsman, so that he can restore himself. It is with this mindset that he returns to his village.
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Bible Text - Part 2
Luke 15: 13–19
Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate: and no one gave him anything.
When he came to himself, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your skilled craftsman.’”
Dr. Ken Bailey
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Picture of Grace
To clearly paint the picture that it's God who does the finding and restoring of prodigals, Jesus told the related parable of the lost sheep. Dr. Ken Bailey indicates that when a sheep realizes that it's lost, all it can do is bleat, cry out. In the time of Jesus, it often took two-to-three days for a shepherd to find and restore a sheep. Even when a shepherd has found it and calls to it, it won't move because it's too terrified. The shepherd must pick up it up and carry it home. A sheep in those times typcially weighed between 40 and 75 pounds. So what's the response of the Shepherd in the lost sheep parable to this difficult task? ...Joy! ...Really?
Just as a sheep can't restore itself neither can the prodigal restore himself. It takes the efforts of a shepherd to find and to restore a sheep; it takes the loving efforts of the Father to find and to restore each of us. It's not our will, not our efforts, not even our faith that saves us. It's Him.
Click here to see the Lost Sheep parable explained.