Saturday, April 4, 2009

Like a slave (Luke 15)

Jesus apparently had too much fun hanging around with "the wrong kind of people." His message of a new Kingdom, a new life, a new beginning, was good news indeed to those whose old lives were nothing to write home about.[1]

His delight in unsavory friends was an ongoing challenge to the professionally righteous people who used their ritual achievements as a platform to look down upon others from.[2] Jesus alternated between denouncing the religious people, and reaching out to them. In today's chapter, He describes a heaven that rejoices when something valuable is found again. A lost sheep, and lost coin, and two lost sons. The parable of the "prodigal" (wasteful) son presents word pictures of a Father, a dutiful older brother, and a wild and reckless younger brother. When the spendthrift lad comes sneaking home, the Father receives him gladly. The older brother, OTOH, resents the attention given the one who has wasted perhaps as much as a third of the family's capital.[3] Let's eavesdrop on this bitter conversation:
Luk 15:28, 29 "Büyük oğul öfkelendi, içeri girmek istemedi. Babası dışarı çıkıp ona yalvardı. Ama o, babasına şöyle yanıt verdi: 'Bak, bunca yıl senin için köle gibi çalıştım, hiçbir zaman buyruğundan çıkmadım. Ne var ki sen bana, arkadaşlarımla eğlenmem için hiçbir zaman bir oğlak bile vermedin.
Luk 15:30 Oysa senin malını fahişelerle yiyen şu oğlun eve dönünce, onun için besili danayı kestin.'
Luk 15:31 "Babası ona, 'Oğlum, sen her zaman yanımdasın, neyim varsa senindir' dedi.
Luk 15:32 'Ama sevinip eğlenmek gerekiyordu. Çünkü bu kardeşin ölmüştü, yaşama döndü; kaybolmuştu, bulundu!'"
Let's take apart a few sentences:
  • Bak -- behold,
  • bunca yıl -- how many years
  • senin için -- for you
  • köle gibi -- like a slave (gibi, like için, is one of those intriguing Turkish postpositions, which function in approximately the same was as English prepositions. It just comes after the word it governs, rather than before!)
  • çalıştım -- I labored.
  • Oğlum, sen -- My son, you
  • her zaman -- all the time
  • yanımdasın -- beside me were
  • neyim varsa -- everything I have
  • senindir -- is yours
The family is an economic unit, but far more than that. The older son viewed his father as a stingy slavemaster, and missed a major benefit of being in a family. The "righteous" people of our Lord's day, He seems to say, also have a distorted image of God, and lead constipated, impoverished, and stingy lives.

May the generosity of heaven enlarge our souls today!


[1] "nothing to write home about" is an American idiom that denigrates some thing, or some action, as inconsequential, or embarrassing.

[2] English, unlike Latin, can put prepositions at the end of sentences. Imposing Latin grammar on English prose is an exercise in snobbery, which results in the overuse of the word which. Which sounds the same as, but must not be confused with, witch.

[3] Biblical inheritance law gives a "double portion" to the oldest son, the one who is expected to take care of the parents in their dotage. If you have three sons, divide the inheritance into four parts, and give two parts to the responsible son. Historically, government "social security" programs results in decreased family sizes, since the family unit is no longer required to take care of its own. As a surrogate "child," the government then also becomes the surrogate heir, with estate taxes.

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