geezeronthequad: Some Respect for the Good Kid – Luke 15:25-32
Jesus is one shrewd cookie. Sometimes He fools us all and hides the sticking point in plain sight. Like here. Many would call the last post the Parable of the Prodigal Son. But verse 11 plainly says, “A man had two sons.” So the story isn’t over with the barbecue. Second, Jesus doesn’t paint a Kinkaide-esque finale for the “Chicken Soup for a First Century Pharisee Soul.” A father starts out separated from a rebellious son only to wind up alienated from “the good kid” at the end with the loose ends left loose. What’s up?
First, we need to show some respect for the invisible pain of the good kid. When he heard the DJ testing the sound system and asked what was going on, he lost it. He’s just come in from sweating his tail off in Dad’s fields; he was probably the foreman who ran the whole show and had done it for weeks, months, maybe years. When I left a pastorate in another place, a man came and bestowed on me a deep honor when he said, “If I’d had a son, I would have wanted him to be like you.” (The incident with the chain saw at the Dairy Queen didn’t happen until years later. I can explain that but I digress.) The second son was the son all the Pharisee and scribes listening to Jesus would have wanted. They all would’ve been proud. He’s never been a problem. And that was the problem.
“Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him.” (Luke 15:29, 30) Yes, some of us always got good grades, excelled in sports, helped with the chores or worked a part-time job, graduated with honors and modest financial aid. We worked our way through college and finished in four years without debt. But who noticed?
Our goodness made us invisible because of the “Prodigal” (more than one?) who ate up Mom and Dad’s attention and energy to where there wasn’t much love left (or at least it felt that way). The Prodigal was always getting yelled at for laziness and getting suspended in school. Other parents kept calling about the fights with their kids. Mom and Dad kept searching his or her room but never ours. That’s how they found the cigarettes, the pornography, the condoms or pills, the weed, etc. The “Prodigal” came home in police cars, appeared in court and psychiatrist’s offices as well as ER’s and rehab centers. They spent time in various lock ups. When we couldn’t manage to keep them out of trouble, we were in trouble. “And when all this happened, where were YOU!”
A couple had four children. Their two sons made their life “colorful and interesting” for almost twenty years. For most of that time, everyone’s bedroom had special alarms in case one of the sons entered in their sleep attempting to kill them. The Mom came to me to discuss the youngest daughter’s wedding. She said, “You know us. You know Jane’s life has been crap. Can you help us make this really special?” Sometimes a whole childhood can evaporate out of the life of The Good Kid. Sometimes the parents can’t stop it and have to play catch up. Jane’s wedding was special; the glow in her eyes throughout the ceremony is bookmarked in my mental scrapbook.The good son had a point but not enough to seal his case. The stories about a lost sheep, a lost coin and here a lost son all were arrows in Jesus’ quiver. Each one found its mark and stuck deep. Next post we’ll see who got stuck.
If you think this might encourage a student or someone who loves them, then subscribe, share and all that social media stuff. If you already subscribe, you might want to check out Geezer1, the Facebook clubhouse for geezeronthequad.com. Take a look. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, artists, writers, composers, musicians, broadcasters, booksellers, pastors, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs as well as a few campus rats who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. They’re a sharp bunch; you will only make us better. Just go to Geezer1 and ask to join or you can go to email@example.com and ask to join there. If the Facebook dog eats your homework (and he sometimes does), we will ask you to resubmit.
Please return your seat to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com