Last Friday, my Gospels classes, mostly sophomores with a sprinkling of juniors and seniors, tested over the Parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke 15. We spent several days looking at this well-known parable which is really two stories of two very different brothers. You know the gist. The younger son of a wealthy man demands his share of the estate and the father gives it to him. The boy goes far away and blows the fortune it took decades to amass. When he hits rock bottom and comes to his senses, he makes the long trip home, preparing his apology. But, the father sees him and sprints to his youngest, setting off a celebration. However, the older, responsible son is angry that the father has accepted his nere-do-well sibling and refuses to join in the party. We explained the father represents God, the older son is the Pharisees, and the Prodigal stands for sinners who come home. For their discussion question, the students had to write a sequel to the story. Here is a sample. Girls are in pink, boys in blue, and all used by permission. Warning- they don't all have perfectly happy endings!
Soon after the party was over, after all the guests had gone home, the two brothers had finally gotten some alone time for the first time in awhile. Though many had been expecting the worse, thinking things would never go smoothly in their brotherhood, the exact opposite happened! The party had given the older brother time to think about things and as his brother had done not long before, he come to his senses. He asked himself, “what would Jesus do?” which was not to hold a grudge. In the end, he realized that his brother had unfortunately gotten off track but ultimately, came home which is what his heart should dwell on, rather than the bad. This made the father’s heart warm and he became a proud dad.
After many years of obeying and doing everything he was told again, the youngest brother got impatient and decided to go away and start new life. He did go away and start a new life. He did not engage in wild living but he got a job as a tax collector in Galilee. He married a beautiful woman and together they had four kids. They all looked just like him. Meanwhile, the oldest brother got jealous of the brother and took out his inheritance and went to a far away sinful land. The father couldn't believe he was left in the house alone. The father started growing old, weary, and very sick. The oldest brother heard from the neighbors about his dad and went to check on him. The oldest brother was poor at the time from a tsunami that wiped out the whole town! When he went back to see his father by his death bed, his younger brother was already there. The older brother repented to his dad and the father’s very last words were “I forgive you.” Both of the brothers, after their father died, sold the house, shared the profit with each other, and went back to their lives.
In ten years, I think that the two brothers have sort of reconciled but there’s still tension. Then, the father dies and his will comes into question. The two brothers read it and realize that their father has put the younger brother back into the will and he got another share of the estate. The older brother who has forgiven the younger brother doesn’t question it, but its a different story for the younger brother. He feels extremely guilty and undeserving of the money because he wasted his share and his brother had to live with less. After a few days of contemplation, the younger brother just couldn't live with himself so he gave the money and the estate back to his brother. His brother refused the money and said that he has learned to have the same compassion as his father did. The younger brother was at peace and the two brothers never fought again.
Shortly after, both sons got married. The older son’s wife was the daughter of a very honorable man, and she was the wife everyone wanted for their son. The younger son’s wife, on the other hand, was a farm girl who was uneducated and not well thought of. However, she and the younger son loved each other deeply and they were much happier than the older son and his wife, who argued constantly. When the father died, it was time for the sons to get their inheritance. The younger son didn’t expect to get anything but his father had left to him one third of the property. The older son’s wife grew very angry and convinced her husband to sue the younger son. Everyone was angry with each other, but the younger son’s wife went to the older son’s wife to reason with her. She told her about God’s love and the older son’s wife realized her mistake and told her husband. They all bought cats and lived happily ever after.-Rebecca
Applicable quote of the day:
"If they had had the social gospel in the days of the Prodigal Son, someone would have given him a bed and a sandwich and he would never have gone home."