11 Jesus said, “A certain man had two sons. 12 The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the inheritance.’ Then the father divided his estate between them.13 Soon afterward, the younger son gathered everything together and took a trip to a land far away. There, he wasted his wealth through extravagant living.
14 “When he had used up his resources, a severe food shortage arose in that country and he began to be in need. 15 He hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to eat his fill from what the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything. 17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, but I’m starving to death! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I no longer deserve to be called your son. Take me on as one of your hired hands.” ’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion. His father ran to him, hugged him, and kissed him. 21 Then his son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly, bring out the best robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! 23 Fetch the fattened calf and slaughter it. We must celebrate with feasting 24 because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. Luke 15:11-24, CEB
If you’ve missed a few days of devo’s, scan back through the last couple of days before reading this one. It’ll save me some space in writing up a recap.
Yesterday we asked the question, “What sin is the son confessing?”
Now, in even asking this question, we’re showing that we’re bringing a perspective with us to the passage. Remember the Bible doesn’t have titles to parables in it originally, we’ve added those and different Bibles have different titles. Imagine if this story was called, “The Merciful Father,” rather than, “The Prodigal Son.” What would that change in how we read it?
Perhaps the son is confessing to the disrespect he showed his father by asking for an inheritance. In their culture, this would lead to the younger son to being completely rejected by the family. And, it should be noted, this would be seen as the appropriate response. It would not be considered abuse or improper or bad parenting. In fact, it would be seen as good parenting and bad behavior on the child’s part. This is very different than how we see things, so take note. Extravagant living compounds the problem as this would be considered even more irregular than asking for the inheritance.
So, his “sin”, if we want to call it that, was his act of damaging relationship. And, perhaps, also the wastefulness of his extravagant living. It wasn’t some grand deed of wickedness. The passage doesn’t tell us what character defects the son either had or didn’t have. It just tells us that he did a disrespectful thing that leads to broken relationship. Interesting.
Let’s remember, though, that his responsibility is only one piece of the story.