Luke 15:11-12, Drop Dead, Dad

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

There are many levels to the parable of the prodigal son, but this one is often neglected. In Palestine, when a son asks his father for his inheritance while the father is still alive, it’s equivalent to saying “Why don’t you drop dead, Dad?”

The typical response would be to toss the son out of the house penniless. The son in Jesus’s parable, having had enough of whatever tension brought this about (with his father? with his brother?), was probably expecting this result and no longer cared. He was ready to give up his inheritance just to get away from the family. He would have been astounded at the father’s response and generosity.

Having little respect for the inheritance, but having suddenly come upon a windfall, his plans changed. The inheritance became his downfall. He squandered it all in “riotous living” and returned to the father’s house penniless and ashamed.

Thank God Dad didn’t drop dead.

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