This year for the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge I have chosen a single word for each letter of the alphabet. Each of these words is important in the Bible. I am including a story in each post. Links from biblical references go to Bible Gateway.
Forgiveness is an important theme throughout the Bible. In many prayers God is asked to forgive people either individually or en masse.
People are also asked for forgiveness, for example after the death of their father, the sons of Jacob ask Joseph for forgiveness. Genesis 50:15-21
Jesus Christ taught about forgiveness in parables and in his answers to questions. In the prayer he taught his disciples forgiveness is important – both being forgiven and forgiving other people. Matthew 6:12 and Luke 11:4 How many times should I forgive? Luke 17:3-4, Matthew 18:21-22
In one story Jesus told there is a marked contrast with the passage from Deuteronomy (mentioned in my Letter D post) about a son, who would not be disciplined by his parents. In Deuteronomy the son would be stoned to death. The story for today’s post has a different outcome.
The wayward son and the forgiving father
There was a family with two sons. They worked the land and made a good living, but the younger son was not content. He wanted to see the world. By all the customs of the time, he would have been expected to work within his family and be content. Only after the death of his father would he expect to inherit any property or money.
He was impatient and asked his father to give him his share in advance. His father agreed, dividing his estate between the two sons before the younger son set off on his travels. With money to spend, he lived a debauched life. When he ran out of money he had no friends. There was a famine in the land. He went to work for a farmer – presumably a gentile as he kept pigs, which were not allowed to be eaten according to the Law of Moses. He was hungry. In fact he was so hungry that he thought about eating the same food as the pigs.
His thoughts turned to his earlier life and his comfortable home. He realised that his father’s paid servants were better off than he was. He went back home to ask his father’s forgiveness and for a job.
His father saw him in the distance and did something, which was not considered dignified at the time. He ran to meet his son and welcomed him home. He restored him as a member of the family and ordered that a feast be prepared to celebrate his return.
The older brother was jealous. He complained that he had worked constantly and his father had never given him anything to have a party with his friends. The father pointed out that everything he had belonged to the older son, but he was celebrating the return of one, who had been lost to him.
The story Jesus told is written in Luke 15:11-31