Well, it is has been wonderful spending time with my sisters. I just wish it happened more than once a year 🙁 Unfortunately I caught the flu on Monday but I am feeling fine now. Thank the Lord for a wonderful husband and family who help. Grandma and Grandpa Van took Rina Monday night, Jenna came Tuesday during the day, my mom brought over Theraflu for me (wow is that stuff WONDERFUL), and Bryan made sure both Rina and I were taken care of when it was just the 3 of us. (There will be pics of Rina next blog 🙂 )
So, the parable of the Prodigal. Have you ever wondered why we call it “The prodigal” when Jesus says it’s about a man with TWO sons, not just one? And why does Jesus continue the story when it obviously ends when the prodigal returns home? And does it even really have an ending? I’m not going to retell the story to you – you can read it for yourself in Luke 15 :), however, I would like to point out some interesting cultural aspects to the story we often miss.
First off, by asking his father for his inheritance what the youngest son was saying to his father was this “I don’t really care about you whether you live or die, I just want your money and I’m tired of waiting for it.” It must have been with a broken heart that the father gave his son his share of the inheritance. How painful. So, the young foolish son leaves, wastes his money, and ends up with only the desire to not die of starvation so he decides to return home and beg for mercy.
However, there’s two problems. This youngest son has hurt not only his father, but he has offended his entire family and village by what he’s done. Everyone and everything is closely connected, including resources and this young son took all of his and wasted them. This young man knows that when he gets back to his village the people will surround him, mock and tease him, maybe hit and spit on home, throw a few stones, and drag him outside the village where he will be forced to wait and see if his father will allow him back in his presence. Once there he can beg for mercy and job. This is what should happen bc this is what culture and standards dictate and this is what this youngest son deserves.
But this father isn’t like everyone else. He also knows what awaits his son so, he keeps watch until he seems him coming home a good distance off and the father takes off running. Before anyone can get to the son the father wants to get there first. But there’s more than just that. In this culture no adult, especially males, run. You are the elder, the world can wait for you. It would be a shameful and humiliating act to run. And the word used for run would actually be better translated as “raced.” This father is racing for his son. To add insult to injury it’s not easy to run in a robe is it? Unless you pull the front part of the robe up, thus exposing yourself to everyone bringing even more shame on yourself. And in this culture shame is worse than death, far worse.
So tell me, who are the villagers going to focus on? Who are they going to laugh at, tease, and mock? Who’s going to be humiliated? The young man who’s a good distance off or this older man racing through the village with his robe pulled up over his knees? Who’s going to suffer – the prodigal who’s coming home to beg for mercy or the father who’s running to welcome home his young son. You tell me.