Kenneth Bailey invested his 40+ year New Testament research and teaching career in the Middle East. Of his many books, three are on the cultural background of Luke 15 and the “Lost and Found” parables, especially the “Prodigal Son,” or as Bailey titles it: “The Compassionate Father and His Two Lost Sons!” (Luke 15:11-32)
Listen to my whole sermon on the parable here at the Christ Church website where you can download, listen, or subscribe to the podcast.
HERE IS A SUMMARY OF THE GOOD NEWS as seen in the parable – the journey of the two lost sons:
1. The father pays the price of reconciliation by continuing to endure the agony of rejected love.
2. The younger son comes to the end of his resources. In a moment of truth, he sees and admits to himself where his pride has brought him.
3. He turns and starts back admitting that he is wrong – and hoping yet to save himself. [“I know what I’ll do…”]
4. The father demonstrates unexpected love in self-emptying humiliation [by running to meet him.]
5. Shattered, the younger son surrenders completely, and offers no alternative for their ongoing relationship.
6. The younger son confesses his personal unworthiness.
7. The father offers reconciliation and sonship.
8. The younger son accepts in genuine humility, knowing that [his sonship] is a gift of pure grace. His repentance and faith come in “allowing himself to be found.”
9. The younger son accepts (we can presume) the responsibility of sonship with a new heart. Now he knows, accepts, and can return his father’s love. Service is not now a means to gain more, but rather an opportunity accepted joyously to express love and thanks.
10. The older son publicly insults his father and poisons the relationship, asserting his prideful self-righteousness.
11. The father, again in self-emptying humiliation searches out the older son and gently urges him to accept the invitation to join in the celebration as a reconciled brother.
NOTE: The missing conclusion. The question hangs: “Will the elder brother go into the party?”
[Jesus is challenging the religious leaders to join him in the true understanding of God as the one who seeks and saves the lost and to see themselves as in need of a Savior; to recognize that their hearts are far from God even as they outwardly see themselves as ‘religious’ and ‘IN!’]