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A father’s two sons (2)

And he [Jesus of Nazareth c. AD 30] said, “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that is coming to me.’ So he divided his assets between them. ……   ……  And he was longing to fill his stomach with the carob pods that the pigs were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have an abundance of food, and I am dying here from hunger! I will set out and go to my father and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight! I am no longer worthy to be called your son! Make me like one of your hired workers.’ And he set out and came to his own father. But while he was still a long way away, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And his son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight! I am no longer worthy to be called your son!’ But his father said to his bonded servants, ‘Straight away bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! And bring the fattened calf—kill it and let us eat and celebrate, because this son of mine was dead, and is alive again! He was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. Luke 15: 11-24
Two boys; one father. The father gives all to his boys. He divided his assets between them. Is that a good idea?

When the world was created – and when God’s most wonderful act of creation – human beings – were formed in His image - that was what God actually did. The LORD God gave creation to men and women, asking them to name the animals and birds and vegetables, fruit and flowers. At that particular time that gift was indeed a good idea.

But now (and in AD 30) each and every human being has appropriated all God’s gifts and is using them all for his or her own purposes. Now, today and in AD 30 and earlier, human beings start out their lives with no vertical towards a Creator. For all children also the parental vertical is compromised. Is it a good idea to give all assets to offspring when they come of age (in Jersey) at 18?


‘Wisdom opens the eyes both to the glories of heaven and to the hollowness of earth.’ (J A Motyer, Bible scholar)
When Jesus spoke the parallel in bold above, he knew that people would start to think about their own lives, their own fathers, their own sons. They would know, deep within, whether his parallel was true or false. He went on with the story. The two boys have it all. But one of them, having spent all on himself and his fun, is now starving on Minimum Wage and no one is giving anything to him. Everyone around him was devoted to asset retention – unlike his father.

When this younger son recalls that employees in his father’s house have an abundance of food he decides to return, recognizing that, although his son-ship will have gone forever, his father is unchanged in character. And - and if he confesses to his father that he has sinned “against heaven and in your sight” then he might be employed.

This younger son had clearly under-estimated his father. Not only had his father been ridiculously too generous in dividing his assets between his two sons – but also he would be ridiculously too generous towards the son who had blown it all away on himself. (Is the Father in heaven too generous?)

In the parallel which Jesus taught not only does this father run towards his destitute son, he also hugs him and kisses him. On hearing ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight! I am no longer worthy to be called your son!’ this father gives orders to his bonded servants (who are bound to do his will) to make immediate changes.

‘Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.’ (John Calvin, French pastor, 1509-1564)
Straight away they must: bring the best robe (not the second best); put it on this penniless man; put a ring on his finger; and put sandals on his feet.

Straight away something else must be done. This is rather interesting. This younger son, when away from his father, had ended up longing to fill his stomach with the carob pods that the pigs were eating. In fact he was dying from hunger. The very best meal that could be prepared was prepared. The son arrived back at his father’s home dying of hunger – to hunger no more.

What on earth did Jesus mean when he told this parallel? Pretty well all fathers give a great deal to their children – but not everything. Pretty well all fathers forgive a little – but not all. Can this parallel be right?
Richard Syvret

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