Repentance and the Parable of the Two Sons

An acquaintance recently posted some thoughts about the Parable of the Prodigal Son, sometimes called the Parable of the Two Sons. He tried to make the point that the parable is not about repentance but about the terrible, judgmental attitude of the older brother, which he equated with “professional clergy,” and the loving and non-judgmental heart of the Father. Here’s what he writes:

The younger son did not come back home to “repent”. He came home because he was at the end of his self-destructive rope, only to find that the One he considered “dead” did not hold it against him. He came home in order to survive and be menial servant, but his father receives him as a son.

The parable is no more about repentance than the previous two parables. The emphasis is on the character of the Father (only love) and the contrasted religious character of the older son (anger). It highlights that Father is not the angry, vindictive, retributively just, judge that religion wants him to be.

Unfortunately, he has missed the point. Jesus wasn’t saying that judging sinners was wrong, but that refusing to recognize repentance was the problem. Put another way, Jesus embraced repentant, forgiven sinners, and welcomed them into the kingdom of God. Continue reading

Why were the Graveclothes Neatly Folded?

When informed by the Jewish chief priests and Pharisees of Jesus’ day that our Lord had predicted “on the third day I will rise,” Pilate says dismissively, “You have a guard of soldiers; go make it as secure as you can.”

Such instructions may have been the most futile ever given in history, for if “death cannot hold him” then neither can Pilate, a ten cent Roman appointee in a backwater region of the empire called Palestine

But He did rise, and so the updated game plan by the religious leaders was to tell a lie and spin the resurrection as a bumbled plot by the disciples to steal away the body.

But is this rational? Possibly, but if someone stole the body, why were the grave clothes (the linen cloths used in Jewish custom to wrap the body of the deceased) neatly folded to one side, and the cloth that was specifically laid over his face folded and set aside separately from the rest? Continue reading