This Sunday’s lectionary reading is the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15, though it is perhaps as well called the parable of the loving father, or the parable of the father and the two sons. (I realise that many will be focussing on Mothering Sunday, but it would be a shame to miss out on preaching on this passage if you follow the lectionary in your preaching.) It’s a passage I have known well for a long time, and can still remember quite vividly listening to the late Michael Green teaching on it during a student mission when I was an undergraduate. But I have recently come across two quite different readings of the parable which highlight some important issues in how we interpret it.
The first was in Jane Williams’ Lent book for this year The Merciful Humility of God. In her introductory chapter, she takes three of the short pages to explore the parable, and rather than seeing it as an exposition of Jesus’ ministry, she sees it as a notable contrast: