Part 1 - Prodigal Wishes Father Were Dead
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
Dr. Kenneth Bailey, who lived and taught in the Middle East for more than 40 years, has never found an example in the past or present of a son requesting and receiving inheritance prior to his father's death. For Middle Easterners, the son's actions communicate to the father that he wishes his father were dead.
In response to such a request, Middle Easterners would expect a father to explode with anger, slapping the son in the face with an open backhand. Yet in the parable, the father unexpectedly grants his son's request. The text says that he divided his living. Bailey points out, living comes from the Greek word bios which means life. He indicates that the text should read, "And he divided his life between his sons," which more accurately captures the depth of the father's pain.
Click there to see Part 2, Prodigal Returns
Bible Text - Part 1
Luke 15: 11–12
And Jesus said, "There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the property that falls to me.' And he divided his living between them."
Dr. Ken Bailey
PDF transcript of Part 1.
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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.