There might be a lot of rejoicing by the Angels when someone is lost and found. But to be lost or not, is entirely in one’s own own hands, to a very large extent. I say ‘very large extent’ as otherwise, Jesus wouldn’t have taught his disciples the Lord’s prayer with ‘lead us not into temptation’!
And, it is not exactly our business to create ‘rejoicing’ in the Angels, in fact there is more for the three, if one had not taken half of the property and returned without the one half he had demanded and taken from his father.
The story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, is a parable of Salvation & Redemption and NOT a parable which prescribes the benchmark for Christian life.
The context of Chapter 15 is explained at the outset by Luke, wherein it is mentioned that the ‘righteous’ Pharisees were indignant of the Publicans and sinners, listening to Jesus and consequently repenting and obtaining Salvation.
Jesus gives three parables, of how a shepherd lost his one sheep among hundred and found that one sheep, after much searching, and rejoiced over it.
Second is when a woman had lost her silver coin and when she searched and found it, she rejoiced over it with her friends & neighbours.
Jesus says that when these two had searched diligently and found it, in the first case, there was ‘rejoicing in heaven’. In the second case of the coin, Jesus says, ‘the angels in heaven rejoiced’.
The first of these two parables involves an animate sheep which had strayed from its flock, which necessitated the shepherd to leave the 99 sheep in a fold or in fellowship and go looking for the Lost Sheep.
The second was a coin, an inanimate object, which couldn’t have got lost on its own, consequently, the woman sweeps her place and recovers it. In these two cases, there was EFFORT by the owner to trace it.
However, the third parable of the PRODIGAL SON required no effort from the outside. This parable involves a human being’s Realisation after depleting his salt and returning to his father with the realisation that in his father’s house, his servants had a better life than the one he was living. Still, it can be ‘salted’ through the magnanimity of God.
The beauty of the arrangement of the third parable is such that the problem was beyond effort. The solution was self-realisation and repentance.
The third Parable involves property, a father and two of his sons.
Jesus doesn’t talk of whether the properties in the hands of the father were self earned or ‘inherited’.
But I am inclined to believe that the father had inherited those properties, as otherwise the second son couldn’t have been emboldened to ask his father to divide the property into portions that fell unto him, nor would the father have been duty bound to divide the property into two portions. Alternatively, though it was not the second son’s ‘right’ to receive half, the father wanted to sever his properties into two so that he could secure for his first son the father’s half of the one third share and not be molested by the second son in future, on some venial pretext if the second son were to return for more.
This parable is an amazingly apt parable in the context. The second son asked for what fell for him, which means, his father could rightfully have divided his inheritance from his forebears into three and keep one share for himself and the other two to be given, one each to the two sons. But the Wise & Compassionate father divided his ‘living’ into two parts, and gave the second son half of all that the father had. What the father did was a SEVERANCE OF NOT ONLY THE INHERITED PROPERTY BUT ALSO THE SELF GAINED PROPERTY AND DIVIDED HIS LIVING EQUALLY AMONG HIS SONS. The father left nothing for himself, either he trusted God like Abraham and/or had faith in the righteousness of his first son. Either way, he was right by hindsight.
The scripture says that the second son wasted his goods in riotous living, though his resenting elder brother, upon the return of the younger brother says that the younger brother “hath devoured thy living with harlots”! In any case, the resultant Fact was that the second son’s share and half of the father’s one third share were irretrievably lost.
Sure, it was lost. But the father is compassionate and gets the best robe for the Repentant Son, gets him a ring, shoes et al, upon his return; but the father was Not foolish enough to tell his first son to transfer half of his father’s share -which was half of one third of the original property divided between the sons- to the Repentant son, instead tells the disgruntled first son, let us celebrate now and make your brother happy, but still whatever is my share I have secured it for you and the Repentant son will have no say in it.
That’s why Jesus says “JOY SHALL BE IN HEAVEN”, but in no way would the original title as an ‘INHERITOR’ be restored to a Prodigal Son.
Look at the self proclamation of Paul in Philippians 3:6 “touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless”. Even though Paul glories in the Grace of God, he did NOT give up on his ‘blameless’ past. That still continued as a good qualification in the eyes of the gentiles and Paul knew it and exploited it. So to have a blameless past is great, but to insist on such a blameless Past for salvation, is Pharisaical and anti Christian. That is the pith and substance of this parable.
Jesus says, In my father’s house are many mansions, definitely a Repentant sinner would find a place there, but to exalt the Second Son and glorify him over the first is to grant the Repentant sinner the sceptre of power, which is neither tenable as per the Scriptures nor advisable on grounds of fairness. The Repentant sinner has to ‘restart’ with no talent in his hands to work on. He gets a start at life without being consigned to the dustbin of despair, but by no means would a father say ‘All that I have is yours’.
The Second Son got relief from his despair, but his return in now way restored his role as a potential Inheritor. The Second Son might have created the ripple of rejoicing but it does not guarantee the return of his former Prince-hood.
The Preacher in a Church today, 03/02/2019, was eulogising the Second Son, forgetting that human endeavour is not to create ‘rejoicing in heaven’ or ‘rejoicing among the angels’; but to be granted adoption as God’s children.
I am amused at the interpretation of rehabilitation being exalted above Inheritance. It is time preachers stopped taking Parables out of context and flying kites with their warped interpretations and making those parables the mules to carry their pet half baked hypotheses.