Ready to start reading between the lines and see what stands for what? Here’s a link to the parable for easy access.
Remember how Jesus was talking to two groups of people? Who was he talking to? He was addressing the Pharisees while he was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, remember? This means they both heard what he had to say. Both audiences would have heard about both sons: the younger and the older.
Don’t miss this next point…
The younger brother represents the sinners and tax collectors at the table. They disregarded acceptable norms of society and lived wildly, just like the younger son. Therefore, everything Jesus has to say about the openly sinful person (the younger brother type), they would have been able to internalize. They would have recognized that Jesus was not only talking to them…he was talking about them.
One analogy down, one more to go for today, but many more to come over the next 3 weeks.
Leaving home is more than just exploring the world.
When Luke writes that the younger son left for a distant country (or far country, depending on the translation), he indicates much more than the desire of a young man to see more of the world. In our culture, we may think of an empty nester in our circle of friends. Perhaps they have a child who just flew across the country to see what else was in store for them beyond their hometown. However, here, Jesus is not just talking about some natural progression in the parent-child relationship whereby some apron strings just need to be snipped.
Instead, Jesus is depicting a drastic cutting loose from multi-generational values and traditions. The younger brother’s actions are not just disrespectful; they are downright betraying.
The son seemingly believed that life in the far country was better than life in his father’s house. The far country which he sought after and abided in for a period of time is representative of abiding in sin. Let’s understand the metaphor Jesus is using here: the far country isn’t just physical. The distant country refers to any place where we do not have God as our priority.
Leaving home, then, is much more than a singular, temporal event linked to a tangible, alternative location. Leaving home is living as though we do not have a home yet and must look far and wide to find one.
The sinners listening were considered to be in their own distant countries.
When we pursue sin, it’s because we believe the enemy’s fallacy that disobeying God will be good for us. We must be on guard. Not all excursions to distant countries are non-stop flights with pre-selected destinations. No, not at all. It’s quite easy for innocent distractions to start dominating our lives and pull us into the distant country, one little layover at a time.
How do we know when we’ve arrived in a distant country?
Anger, resentment, jealousy, desire for revenge, lust, greed, and rivalries are obvious signs that we have left home.
My church’s partnership class puts it this way:
People were created to have fellowship with God. However, because of our own stubborn self-will, we chose to go our own way, and fellowship with God was broken. This self-will, characterized by an attitude of active rebellion or passive indifference, is evidence of what the Bible calls sin.Wallenpaupack Church, Partnership Class
The further we run away from the place where God dwells, the less we are able to hear the voice that calls us the beloved. The less we hear that voice, all the more magnified does the enemy’s voice become.
Now, we have a clearer understanding of what is being framed out in this narrative: Jesus is equating the sinners with the younger brother. He goes even further to equate the latter’s distant country with the sinner’s own reality of being distant from their heavenly Father; from their true home.
Tomorrow were are going to explore exactly why the younger son’s actions were so egregious. To do so, we are going to focus on a part of the story which if often overlooked- or at least not paid as much attention as its due. Excited to review it with you!
See you then!
Did you know I created a worship playlist just for this series?!
Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home!
Previous posts from the Prodigal Series
Miss one? I got you covered! All teachings from this series are found here.