Between the Lines: Lent 4: March 10, 2013

Text: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

So he told them this parable:

Return of the prodigal son

Return of the prodigal son
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This cluster of parables in Luke 15 seems to center on a theme of losing something valuable and the joy of finding it again. They seem to be parallel, but note the differences. In the first, the shepherd searches for the sheep, who presumably had wandered off on his own. In the story of the woman and the coins, clearly it was not the coin that got itself lost, and the coin could not assist in its being found. In the third story, the son “loses” himself and “finds” himself, to be welcomed back by the father.

Luke presents Jesus saying that the story of the sheep shows that “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance,” and the story of the coin illustrates “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Why, do you imagine, does Luke not include an explanation or conclusion to the story? What might the third story suggest? How does it fit into the pattern that Luke offers? How is it different? What would you say is the “moral” of the story?

– Andy Kille

“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC.  For details and subscription information, see About BibleWorkbench.

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