As a quick reminder, we are going to start to look at how the father figure challenged norms in how he responded throughout the parable. In turn, we should be inspired to respectfully and appropriately challenge the norms of our society, opting instead for the more kingdom-mindful response.
Remember how the younger son was totally out of line to ask for the inheritance? We discussed this in week 1 together. Not only was it utterly insulting and against traditionally accepted behavior, but it required the father to uproot his life in order to make good on the request of him.
Now, let’s look at the other side of the same coin, shifting our focus from the son to the father. This response to the inheritance request will be the first response we look at together. Since we know the father figure is a stand in for our heavenly Father, by shifting our gaze upon Him, we are implementing a foundational practice while reading Scripture.
Focusing on what Scripture tells us about God is a significant rule of thumb, because the Bible is ultimately a story about God, HIS redemption story, His purposes, and HIS ways. The misgivings of other characters are secondary plot lines and should serve to highlight the goodness and righteousness of God!
OK. Back to the parable at hand…
So when looking at the father, there’s a few things to understand. First, this was an intensely patriarchal society. Respect for elders, particularly parents, was of monumental importance. How should the father have acted within the confines of traditional Middle Eastern society? Physical blows. That’s right! Physical retaliation would have been what was expected of the father and acting accordingly would have been totally justified, given the magnitude of the son’s request.
But what did he actually do?
He gave up what was his, apparently with neither hesitation nor animosity.
This would have been unheard of! Patriarchs would never have responded so patiently in the face of dishonor and rejected love.
What do we do when someone hurts us? I know what we should do…but if we are truthful, we oftentimes don’t act as we should. We may not necessarily downright retaliate with forthright pain or sinister schemes most foul, but perhaps we give the silent treatment? Gossip to others about it? Harbor resentment (like the older brother)? Love a little less? Perhaps we either self-soothe so the rejection doesn’t sting as much or avoid the person all together.
Here, with the father’s example, we have a better option. He bears the agony himself and maintains affection for his child.
Does this sound familiar? When else can we think of a time our Father bared the agony in silence?
For the rest of today, and hopefully beyond, prayerfully contemplate how to use the Father’s example (both fictional and actual) to inform more biblically-based responses to nefarious words and actions. Let the Word change where we need changing!
Tomorrow we will look at the next way the father went against the tide of normal expectations.
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.