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.
Posts tagged ‘repentance’
The connection between the proscribed ACT and the state of mind of the person who had committed the ACT is GUILT.
The proscribed Act could have been proscribed by the scriptures, the law or even one’s own conscience. We are making our own laws by choosing to stay with a group which has certain norms, and sooner or later we are engulfed by the norms followed or prescribed by that group. Therefore, to criticize the norms of the particular group- of which we made/ acquiesced ourselves a part of- is not gonna help us. We as free individuals have chosen- even if it had been for want of a better option.
There are religious groups/sects which make its members GUILTY.
Guilty of what? Well, we are not aware of all the laws which are in force at any given point of time. Therefore we have all fallen short of His GRACE by having infringed/ violated those laws. Merely because we are not visited upon by the sanctions prescribed immediately upon commission of the offence/wrong, it does not mean that we are innocent. We remain in the state of undetected wrong-doers/offenders/vow-breakers etc..
The issue is that the moment we commit an offence, we could become aware of our guilt or regret and feel guilty later for any number of reasons. But the ALIENATION of the self occurs only and I REPEAT only after WE HAVE FOUND OURSELVES GUILTY.
The organizations which have descended upon mankind in the guise of purifying the guilty have taken full advantage of the power of guilt:-
GUILT MAKES MEN TO RETREAT(Adam &Eve)
GUILT MAKES MEN HELPLESS(Cain after the murder of his bro Abel)
GUILT MAKES MAN FEEL INFERIOR IN HIS OWN EYES (Moses after committing murder and hiding in the desert0
GUILT MAKES HIM SURRENDER WITHOUT A FIGHT(Saul the king after he met Samuel from the dead)
GUILT MAKES HIM AN EMOTIONAL WRECK( David after the incident of the intimation by the prophet reg murder of Uriah)
GUILT MAKES MAN WILLING TO PART ANYTHING TO GET RELIEF (Zachchaeus(sp.) after he entertained Jesus)
The list is endless, but the point to be made is that prior to their feeling guilty, they never felt so – as they were either ignorant of their sin or were justifying their acts. It is in those weak moments that the sense of guilt rises and engulfs a man’s mind.
The religious groups that take advantage of the guilt have proliferated without number. The problems that we face are attributed to our sins- mostly hidden to our eyes and crystal clear to their eyes. They expound upon our sins and prescribe remedies to those sins- mostly relieving us of our properties and money!!
It is a must that we have to have an idea of sins and have the alacrity to identify them and confess it to God and help ourselves. Cain after killing his brother Abel could not bear the paranoia of death thru others, but when he approached God, God gave him a relief that the person who kills Cain wud be 7 times guiltier. God did not withhold relief even from the first fratricider- not merely a fratricider but one who killed a person who loved God and offered a more excellent sacrifice!!
The alacrity depends on 2 factors one is lack of WILLFULNESS and secondly weakness. If we are not willful we wud approach God upon intimation/realization of our guilt. If we willfully commit sins we delay our own repentance.
JESUS CAME TO THIS WORLD NOT TO ELIMINATE SIN, BUT TO SAVE MANKIND BY BREAKING THE BOND BETWEEN SIN AND GUILT THRU HIS GRACE!
This Grace is like a right and it has to be CLAIMED thru REPENTANCE.
As I have reiterated in my earlier blogs, merely spending time clearing the spiritual mess we create for ourselves is not our purpose. ACTION is our purpose. God makes a promise to King David – u shall not lack a son to rule Israel: God makes a promise to JEHU king of Israel(10 tribes) that his seed shall rule for 4 generations. David was an adulterer/ murderer and Jehu was a Regicider (he killed 2 kings), yet God made promises to them because they were ACTION oriented people and consistently got rid of their guilt thru repentant action.
LET US GET HIS GRACE TO CLEAR OUR GUILT AND TAKE PROMPT ACTION IN ALL MATTERS.
One of the biggest problems MAN faces is the LOSS of INNOCENCE.
If Eve had not been aware of the proscription of the Tree of Knowledge, and still had tasted it, would it have made her guilty? rather would it have made her FEEL guilty?? I think not or at least she’d have had the defence that had she known that eating of the tree were proscribed, she’d not have tasted of it. But she was aware of the command, albeit not directly.
The GUILT makes Adam and Eve REGRESS. They are not able to come forward and meet the LORD. They go HIDING. So the point to be perceived is that Guilt is followed by a certain behaviour of REGRESSION and a sense of NAKEDNESS(Exposure to the outside forces). This is the loss of innocence, Adam and Eve had not only become knowledgeable, but have become AWARE of their CONDITION. They cannot go back. The Rubicon has been crossed.
Let us take the example of Zacchaeus (Luke 19), Jesus Christ said, TODAY I MUST ABIDE AT THY HOUSE. Jesus did not make Zacchaeus feel guilty, but His(Jesus’) mere presence made him realize his state of guilt. A sudden RUSH of awareness of his guilt- that had lain hidden and suppressed in one form or the other for a long time. I take a call on the length of time, as he could return not only the goods and money taken wrongfully, but four-fold. 400% return. It takes 5-6 years to just double yr money in the Indian context as on date, and it must have been a long time since he’d been busy extorting !
The GUILT needs to be cleaned. Everyone at some point is likely to face the situation as Lady Macbeth feels–ALL THE PERFUMES OF ARABIA WILL NOT SWEETEN THIS LITTLE HAND. Lady Macbeth and her husband had been guilty of Regicide, Parricide, etc., maybe we are not socially convicted nor have we committed such foul crimes. Macbeth’s crime was just a step away from his position. He was next only to the king and his crime before being committed wouldn’t have seemed of the dimension it turned out.
We are not any different. We are all guilty and fallen short of the GRACE- it is no mere repetition of the verse from the Bible, but a realization. Herod did not feel the GUILT after having granted the wish (John’s head as a reward to her dance performance) of Salome. Herod must have palliated his conscience by the fact that he was merely keeping the promise made to his niece (daughter of the victim of Herod’s crime)!
But when a prophet meets David and tells him of the murder of URIAH and exposes the sinful crime(as it was a guilt against God and the society), he REPENTS. Therefore, he gets to retain not only Bathsheba, but begets a son, through his victim’s wife. who later becomes his heir (king Solomon) to the throne.
The crux is therefore REPENTANCE. Herod wouldn’t repent, instead would incarcerate John the Baptist. It is that which leads him to finally meet his ignominious end.
Prior to repentance is the most important stage, which is SUBMISSION to the statement of charge brought by the prophet. A prophet is one who aids another contemporary human being to become aware of his guilt, which is not visible to himself.
This blindness to one’s own guilt is caused by our own preoccupations. Now the question is do we abandon our duties and go on a long GUILT trip and make a mess of our lives??
NO, NO and NO. The Bible has examples who have made it (obtained REPENTANCE ) simultaneously and that we shall call the DYNAMIC GUILT-SHEDDING. D V we shall deal with it in our next session