Parable of the Compassionate Father his two sons
by PremAnand PS
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DISCUSSION ON LUKE 15 : 11 - 32
Roshan : Welcome to all for this discussion on Luke 15:11-32
All : Hi
Roshan : Have you read Luke 15:11-32 earlier
Rohit : I have read it many times.
Rahim : I have not read it, but I did read the Father’s Love Letter in the link you had given when we met last time.
Pooja & Preeti : Why don’t we read the story now
Roshan : O.K. We will read it. If you have your Bible please turn the pages to the portion where Luke 15 : 11-32 is or else you can read from this printout. Rohit will read it aloud for us. Others please listen & follow carefully.
The story of the compassionate father & his two sons.
Luke Chapter 15 Verses 11 to 32
11. Then Jesus said, There was once a man who had two sons:
12. The younger one said to his father “Father give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” So he divided his assets between them.
13. Not many days later, the younger son packed his bags and went on a journey to a distant country. There he wasted everything he had in reckless living.
14. Then after he spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country and he began to be in want.
15. So he went and attached himself to one of the citizens of the country who sent him into his fields to feed pigs.
16. He longed to fill his stomach with the husks that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17. But when he came to his senses he said “How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat but here I am dying from hunger!
18. I will arise and go to my father and say ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
19. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.’”
20. So, he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
21. Then his son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you”
22. But the Father said to his servants “Hurry! Bring the best robe and put it on him; and put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet
23. And bring the fattened calf and kill it; let us eat and celebrate
24. For this my son was dead and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.” Then they began to celebrate
25. Now the older son was out in the field and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing
26. And he called one of the servants and asked what was going on
27. The servant said “Your brother has returned, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him safe and sound”
28. But he was angry and refused to enter the house ; His father came out and pleaded with him
29. But he answered his father, “Look! These many years I have worked like a slave for you, and not once did I disobey your orders. Yet you never gave me even a goat so that I could celebrate with my friends!
30. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your assets with prostitutes; you killed for him the fattened calf!”
31. Then the father said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and everything that belongs to me is yours.
32. But now we must celebrate and be glad, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”
Roshan : Before we continue, let us just say a small prayer.
“ Our Loving Heavenly Father, we pray that you would open our eyes to see the wonders in your word. Please speak to us. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen”
I think all of you would have understood the story that we read. Please spend a few minutes reading silently.
Rohit : The story starts with “Then” which means it is a continuation to an earlier portion.
Roshan : If you read the first three verses of Luke Chapter 15 then you can understand the context.
Pooja : The 3rd verse says Jesus told a parable. What is a Parable?
Rohit : Parable is a short story which Jesus tells to teach some spiritual truth
Roshan : We can see two groups of people with Jesus. The tax collectors & sinners are one group. The other group consists of the Pharisees & Scribes. The second group is murmuring that Jesus eats with the tax collectors.
Preeti : Who are these people?
Roshan : The tax collectors, as the name says are people who collect taxes. In those days Israel was ruled by the Romans. The tax collectors were Jewish people who collected taxes on behalf of the Romans. They were notorious for collecting huge taxes & enriching themselves. They probably had gonads & other social outcasts with them to help them in their work.
Rohit : The Pharisees & Scribes are religious rulers who have read the Bible thoroughly. These people had established many rules and traditions and insisted that all the people should follow them. Many of these people were filled with Hypocrisy.
Roshan : Jesus begins by telling the parable of the lost sheep, then the lost coin & finally the lost son.
Rohit : I think Jesus is trying to emphasize that when we find something that is lost, then we will feel happy. If something highly valuable is lost & then found we would obviously celebrate.
Roshan : Can somebody tell the story in brief.
Rahim : A Father has two sons, the younger one demands his share of inheritance & leaves the father. He loses all money in wild living, comes to his senses & returns to father. The father runs, kisses, embraces & welcomes him as a son. Elder son is angry with father for welcoming the younger son & celebrating his coming.
Preeti : It is the story of two sons, no daughters are involved.
Roshan : Though daughters are not involved in the story, it is applicable to them also. We must remember that this story is set in a village in Israel about 2000 years ago. What do you think would have been the social status of the father.
Rohit : He must have been wealthy. He had many servants working for him.
Rahim : He had farmed for cultivation. Probably he would have also done a profitable business of rearing sheep, goat, cows etc.
Pooja : I think he must have hired artists with him, those who can sing, dance, play music, entertain etc.
Preeti : He must have been a respectable citizen of the country.
Roshan : What did the younger son ask the father?
Rohit : He asked the father to divide the inheritance & give his portion.
Roshan : When does the property pass from the Father to the son.
Rahim : After the death of the Father, usually based on the Will.
Roshan : What does it mean to ask for the property when the father is alive.
Rohit : It means that the Father is as good as dead to him.
Roshan : Why do you think the younger son would have done that?
Preeti : Probably he would have felt that the father is too restrictive. There may have given been many do’s & don’t’s in the house.
Pooja : I think he wanted independence, he wanted to enjoy life.
Roshan : The father could have refused the son’s request
Pooja : That is what I don’t understand.
Rohit : I think the Father must have been a very gentle & generous person. Maybe he would have told the son that what he is asking for is not right. But the son may not have listened and would have stuck to his demand.
Rahim: He could have also thought that the son may do something good.
Roshan : Did the father give the property only to the younger son or to both the sons?
Pooja : I think, he gave only to the younger son.
Roshan : Please read v12 carefully once again.
Rohit : It says he divided his assets between them. That means he gave to both the sons. But I don’t know in what proportion he would have divided.
Roshan : According to the rule prevalent in those days, the elder son gets 2/3 rd while the younger would get 1/3rd.
Rohit : He packed and left after some days. Why didn’t he pack & go immediately?
Rahim : He would have converted the assets into money. If he could sell the property in a few days it meant that he would have sold it cheaply.
Roshan : Why did he go to a distant country? Why not somewhere near by?
Rohit : I think he wanted to go to a place where his father cannot find him. Probably to such a place were there would not be even one person who had known his father there. His father should be as good as dead & lost to him so that he could live as he pleases.
Roshan : How do you think he would wasted whatever he had with him?
Pooja : Probably he would have spent on drinking, gambling, prostitutes etc.
Preeti : ‘Prostitutes’ is a derogatory word. The term used to refer them these days is commercial sex workers.
Rahim : Earning money is difficult, spending is very easy.
Pooja : There is also the probability of money being stolen or he being cheated. He could have lost money this way also.
Roshan : What happened next?
Rohit : Something unexpected. It was really unfortunate that a famine occurred.
Rahim : How did the famine occur?
Preeti : There is nothing mentioned there, it could be either because of lack of rain or because of some epidemic, pest or even war. These days we do not have such famine but we do have economic depression.
Rohit : These could also be referred to as Acts of God. Isn’t it?
Roshan : Yes. What do you think would have been his condition after he lost everything?
Rohit : He may not have had any place to stay. He may have sold all his personal belongings to survive. He was surrounded by many people who had posed themselves as friends when he had money but none of them are with him after everything is gone. He would have felt lonely and on top of it he is not able to get any job.
Pooja : A desperate & pathetic situation.
Roshan : Like in our country, the pig is an unclean animal & no Jew would even go near it.
Rohit : He has to do a job which he detests but even there it appears no one is even giving him enough food. The condition of pigs there was probably better than him.
Roshan : This situation brought him to his senses. Even the condition of the hired workers with his father was better than him.
Rohit : Maybe his father had different types of workers like mangers, supervisors, skilled workers /unskilled workers & daily contract labourers. It appears that he is saying that the condition of the lowest category of workers i.e the daily wage contract labourer was better than him.
Roshan : He realizes that he has sinned and is not worthy to go to his father hence he decides that he will ask his father to treat him like one of his hired servants. What do you think of the father’s response?
Rahim : I am completely shocked at the response of the father.
Rohit : It appears he was missing him & he was eagerly waiting for him.
Pooja : I think his appearance would have been like a beggar. I don’t know how the father managed to identify him from such a far off place. I can fully understand the father’s love for his son on reading v20.
Preeti : I think that the Father should have punished him for damaging his reputation in the society.
Pooja : But he has realized his mistake and returned to his father why should he be punished.
Preeti : After committing a murder if you realize that you have done a great sin can you escape punishment under the Law?
Pooja : I was just thinking that the Father’s love is so big that he is ready to forgive him when he realizes what he has done. After all, when you do something wrong doesn’t your Dad forgive you. I think the very purpose of a father’s existence is to show his love to his children not his ability to punish.
Roshan : Please don’t argue. I think Pooja is trying to say that he regretted all wrong that he did. He would have felt that the decision to leave Father’s house and the immoral things that he did later were all wrong. He obviously wanted to leave his past life behind. Let’s continue with what happened in the story.
Rohit : The father told the servants to put the best robe on him, a ring & sandals and ordered for celebration.
Roshan : These things that he tells to put are not necessities for him but luxuries. The father wants to make his son the Prince. He wants to fully restore the rights of a son. He in fact cut’s short the speech that the son had rehearsed in his mind to say. He does not allow him to say “Treat me like one of the hired servants”
Pooja : They have killed a calf for their celebration. There could have been many other ways to celebrate. Why kill the poor calf?
Preeti : I think the calf has been reared for killing & eating. The broiler chicken that we eat is raised up for the sole purpose of eating, so there is nothing wrong with it.
Pooja : I feel sorry for the calf. I think vegetarian food is best for our health.
Roshan : Let’s come to our topic of discussion. Now the elder son while coming back from his work hears music & dancing. He comes to know from one of the servants that the celebration is for the safe return of his younger brother and he becomes very angry. He refuses to enter the house despite the father’s pleading.
Rahim : The elder son feels that the father is partial. He has been always with him but there was never a celebration. I feel what he says is right.
Roshan : Read verses 29,30 and observe very carefully what he said. He says that he has worked like a slave.
Rohit : What is the need for working like a slave. He is after all working in his father’s farm which is ultimately his farm.
Roshan : He was looking at his father as a boss. Now when the father is pleading to him to come inside he is not obeying but he says he has never disobeyed. He is blaming the father that he has not given even a goat but in fact he has already divided and given his portion when the younger son asked for it.
Preeti : The fact is he doesn’t want to spend anything for celebration & he is blaming the father for it.
Roshan : He absolutely has no consideration for his brother. He doesn’t call him his brother but refers to the father as “this son of yours”. He has disowned him.
Pooja : It appears that the story ends there with the elder brother outside.
Rohit : The story began with the younger brother going outside the father’s house but finally ends with the elder brother outside.
Roshan : Just think how many groups of people were with Jesus and how many sons did the father have
Preeti : I got the meaning, Jesus compares the Tax collectors & Sinners to the younger son & the Pharisees & Scribes to the elder son & the Father to himself.
Roshan : Do you know who killed Jesus?
Rohit : It was the Pharisees who plotted his death.
Pooja : If I had told the story, then I would added that the elder son killed his father to take complete control of the assets.
Rohit : If the Father refers to Jesus, you may know that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, then you should probably plan to write a sequel to the story.
Roshan : Can you identify yourself with any of the characters in the story.
Preeti : I am not so bad as the younger son but I appreciate the fact that he went back to his father. He needed a second chance to live a better life & the father provided it to him.
Rahim : Initially I thought that what the father did was not right but I have changed my opinion later. I would rather be like the younger son than the older son. I know that I have done mistakes which I regret in my life. I want to come to God & ask forgiveness.
Pooja : Except for the calf, I like everything about the story. It could be made into an entertaining movie. I want to have a love relationship with God. I don’t want to do any mistakes in my life like the two sons.
Rohit : From v32 we can find that living our life away from the Father is equal to being dead or being lost. I found life when I came to God. Like a loving father Jesus leads me each day.
Roshan : From v32 we also infer that if we are dead, we can come to life again. If we are lost we can be found. What is the one thing that we have to do to live or to be found.
Rohit : Like the younger brother we need to repent of our sins & come back to the father seeking his forgiveness.
Preeti : I have not done any grave sins like the younger son so I don’t feel the need to repent. You should not tell that we should repent of the small mistakes that all humans do. After all “To Err is Human”
Roshan : Many of us fail to realize that we can sin even in our thoughts. Jesus said if we had a lustful desire, it is adultery. If we honestly assess ourselves we can never come to the conclusion that we have not done any sin.
Rohit : Recently, I visited a website, www.ultimatetest.org. To know how good you are I think you should take the test in the website.
Roshan : In conclusion I would say we need to repent of our sins & experience God’s love in our lives. We need to show God’s kind of love to all people irrespective of colour, caste or creed. If you want to live again or be found by God, then you can say a prayer like this
“Loving Heavenly Father, I believe that Jesus has died for my sins & his risen. I want to accept his offer for forgiveness. Please forgive all my sins and enter my name in the Lambs Book of Life. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen”
May all of us enjoy God’s love in our life and May he give grace so that we could love others as he loves us. Bye to all. See you soon.
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