The Parable of the Prodigal Son in Cultural Context
During the time of the telling of the Prodigal Son, the Middle Eastern culture was one of revolution. The emergence of the Messiah into the middle-eastern world created uproar among many communities, including the Jewish community. Jesus' ideas and teachings were revolutionary and went against many of the orthodox teachings of the Jews. Yet, Jesus made it a point to teach what was relatable to Jews and Gentiles who were listening to his preachings. The first of Jesus' parables mentioned in Luke did not present anything out of the ordinary to the Jewish community; however, the Parable of the Prodigal Son exploded with new ideas through the context of original traditions. The sons both presented radical ideas to the father in the story. The younger son asked the father for his share of the inheritance before the father died, which would have automatically put him outside of the community.
The eldest son called the unconditional love of the father for his youngest son into question. He did not understand how the father could have mercy on the son who took his share of the inheritance and wasted it. This then brings in the parallel of the earthly father to the heavenly father. It would be unheard of for an earthly father to accept his son after such an act was committed. Yet, the father in the parable accepted his son back after a life of sin, just as the heavenly father accepts his people when they repent. Through Jesus' moral courage, we see new, radical ideologies coming together within a cultural context. The importance of the profoundly unusual events of the Parable of the Prodigal Son is essential to Jesus' message.
In the beginning of the...