And He said, A certain man had two sons.
And the younger of them said to the father, Father give me that part of the inheritance falling to me. And he divided the inheritance between them.
And not many days after, gathering up all things, the younger son went away to a distant country. And there he wasted his property, living dissolutely.
But having spent all his things, a severe famine came throughout that country, and he began to be in need.
And going, he was joined to one of the citizens of that country. And he sent him into his fields to feed pigs.
And he longed to fill his stomach from the husks which the pigs ate, but no one gave to him.
But coming to himself he said, How many servants of my father have plenty of loaves, and I am perishing with famine.
Rising up, I will go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I sinned against Heaven and before you,
and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants.
And rising up, he came to his father. But he yet being far away, his father saw him and was moved with compassion and he ran andfell on his neck and fervently kissed him.
And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you, and no longer am I worthy to be called your son.
But the father said to his slaves, Bring out the best robe and clothe him, and give a ring for his hand and sandals for hisfeet.
And bring the fattened calf, slaughter and let us eat and rejoice;
for this son of mine was dead, and lived again, and was lost, and was found. And they began to be merry.
But the older son was in the field. And having come, as he drew near to the house, he heard music and dances.
And having called one of the children, he inquired what this may be.
And he said to him, Your brother came, and your father killed the fattened calf, because he received him back in health.
But he was angry and did not desire to go in. Then coming out, his father begged him.
But answering, he said to the father, Behold, so many years I serve you, and I have never transgressed a command of you. And you never gave a goat to me, so that I might be merry with my friends.
But when this son of yours came, the one devouring your living with harlots, you killed the fattened calf for him.
But he said to him, Child, you are always with me, and all of my things are yours.
But to be merry and to rejoice was right, for this brother of yours was dead, and lived again; he was lost and hewas found.
Sounds like a movie title doesn’t it? I think you know what I am alluding to.
After the younger brother has his realization in the pig pen he starts to think about what he should do. He doesn't even have the bread cutlery that his father's servants have. He has absolutely nothing despite glueing himself to this Gentile. He considers his options. I know what I'll do he says. I will go and I will say:
"Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants."
So he gets up and goes to the father and says:
"Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you and I am no longer worthy to be called your son."
Well it is easy to compare these two speeches isn't it? Word for word the same except the end of the speech is missing. I drew your attention to this in Gemz 1040. It is only the end of the speech that is missing. "Make me like one of your hired servants." Why does he leave out that segment of the speech? It's pretty important. At least it seemed like it was important when he was sitting in the pig pen. Remember he has burned his bridges with his father, his brother (although the brother is in the same boat) and with his community. He faces kezezah if he goes back. He must face the fact that he has spurned his father and broken his heart, oh yes, and taken his money and wasted it too. But I am sure the heart relationship is upper most in his mind. I sure he can still remember the look in his father's eyes as he left. He must face the ridicule and vitriol of his older brother who no doubt has always belittled him in the past, how much more now.
He knows now that he has blown it big time. He has had a revelation deep down inside when he considered the fact that he has no bread cutlery or as he ponders how close he came to eating pig food. How could he stoop so low? Him, the high born son of Jewish estate owner. He has no rights as the second born son anymore. He cashed them up for what? A pot of broth like Esau, his ancestor. He has lost all the money he got from his father through the shameful way he treated him. He realizes he has sinned against heaven or against God. Also like his ancestor Joseph the prodigal realizes he has sinned against God. Joseph hadn't sinned against God, he simply recognized succumbing to Potiphar's wife's advances would have been a sin against God. (Gen 39:9). The prodigal recognizes he has indeed sinned against heaven (God). But he also includes his father in the list as well. I have sinned against you too father. I am not worthy to be called your son. I have thrown my sonship in your face when I told you (or by my actions showed you) you meant nothing to me and I walked away from you and the family and the community. I know you have pronounced kezezah over me and my relationship with the community and with you has been severed. But even though that has happened I realize I am still better off here as a hired hand. So please take me on as a hired servant. I am prepared to start at the bottom.
I have told you already there is much debate over his response. Did he repent? Is his repentance valid or is it inadequate? Or is he merely playing his father for a fool, saying the right words but with no heart behind them? Have you had some time to think about it? Or maybe you think Ian will tell me the answer so I don't need to think about it anymore. It requires more thought. Why doesn’t he finish his speech after going to all the trouble of rehearsing it? Is it that the father doesn’t give him a chance? I think there is more to the matter. I need to explain another expression before we can understand all the background to the words written here.
There is a huge difference between a son, a bond servant and a hired hand. The hired labourer is someone who is hired on a daily basis to do a menial job. They have no long term tenure and they are looked down on by others. If you were to tell someone that you are a hired labourer they would have contempt for you. Garbage collectors and sewage workers are the kinds of jobs that are done by hired labourers. The hired hand is not guaranteed any set wage. It is up to the hirer as to how much he is paid. He can pay a minuscule amount at the end of the day if he wishes. That adds meaning to the parable of the landowner hiring labourers to work in his vineyard in Matthew 20, doesn’t it?
The hired labourers had no food given to them. The slaves or servants of the household ate better. The hired hands had to fend for themselves. There was no guarantee that they would be given work tomorrow. It is the same for casual labourers these days. No union to ensure their work conditions are monitored. No guaranteed rates of pay, no holiday pay and no fringe benefits. Are you getting the idea? These are the lowest people on the pecking order. Even the household slaves fare better than the hired hand. He will not be sleeping in the father's house. Likely as not he will have to find somewhere to live by himself in the village wherever he can find lodging. He will always be working outside in the fields under the hot sun or out in the cold in the winter time. No more comforts of home, even though what used to be home is so close, it is no longer an option for him. He will have no chance of getting close to the landowner (his father). He will have others supervising him and will be given no chance ever to talk with the Lord of the estate.
On the other hand he maybe able to secure a deal whereby he can pay off the debt to the family as an indentured labourer in which case he will have to work a certain number of predetermined years to pay back the debt. It will be a long number of years to make up for the amount of money he has received in inheritance as a son. His prospects are not great. But he is prepared to start from the bottom. This is a huge decision on his part, coupled with the fact that his brother will certainly make his life miserable just to rub salt into the wound.
Despite all of this he was willing to become a hired hand while he was in the pig pen. Now he makes no mention of it. This request has been left out. He doesn’t pursue this option when he sees his father.
Is it as some commentators suspect that the father's response has interrupted the son's plans and now his intention to ask to be made a hired hand has been forgotten?
Is it because of a change in the son's plans? Maybe he sees the father's response, so he is not going to mention the hired hand option unless he has to?
Maybe the extravagance of the Father's response makes the son's planned response seem so inadequate.
What do you think? Put yourself in his place. What would you do? Think it through. It is important. We'll come back to this issue tomorrow. It was important for the younger son to figure out. It was important for the older son too and surprise surprise, it's important for you and me too.
Life is measured not by the things you do, but by the things you set into motion. Jeff Leake
No argument is ever about the topic, it always about the emotions behind the topic. Robi Sonderegger
Faith in God includes faith in His timing! Kong Hee
Without risk, faith is an impossibility! Rick Godwin