The Lost Son Returns:
(NIV)Luke 15:20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
In the new book, Let Hope In, Pete Wilson writes:
Jesus’ audience continued to listen to him tell the story of the prodigal son, and they had been surprised so far, but now they were thinking, Well, the dad let his son make his own choice. He was so overwhelmed when his son came home that he actually ran to him, but we know how this story is going to end.
From the Jerusalem Talmud, it is known that the Jews during the time of Jesus had a method of punishing any Jewish boy who lost the family inheritance to Gentiles. It was called the “qetsatsah ceremony”. Such a violator of community expectations would face the qetsatsah ceremony if he dared return to his home village.
The ceremony was simple: The villagers would bring a large jar, fill it with burned corn, and break it in front of the guilty individual. While doing this, the community would shout, “So-and-so is cut off from his people.” From that point on, the village would have nothing to do with them.
This was a religious ceremony designed to publicly embarrass and humiliate the person guilty of wrongdoing. And the people listening to this story are waiting for this ending. Sure the dad forgave the son, but the village is going to give the boy what he deserves. They’re not going to overlook his dark past. They’re not going to allow him to just forget where he was or who he had been. But an amazing thing happens: the father trumps the humiliating and convicting ceremony by establishing his own. “The father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:22-24 NIV).
He does something his audience is not familiar with doing: wiping his son’s slate clean. He says, “I know my son blew it. I know he made some horrible decisions. But this is between me and him. He’s not an embarrassment to me. You can come over to the house tomorrow, but instead of a ceremony of rejection, we’re participating in the joy of a restoration.”
~ Pete Wilson, Let Hope In: 4 Choices That Will Change Your Life Forever pp. 117-118 emphasis added