Friday, December 26, 2008

A Tale of Two Sons

I seriously thought this was a work of fiction when I picked it up. The full title, A Tale of Two Sons: The Inside Story of a Father, His Sons, and a Shocking Murder combined with the cover art, made me think this was a thriller. (I thought it was a spin off, if you will, of the parable of prodigal son.) I thought that was an unusual genre for John MacArthur to tackle, which is why I was so very curious about it. Therefore I am sure you can imagine my surprise when I decided I was in the mood for a thriller to open it up and discover it was a more indepth study of the parable of the Prodigal Son! Suddenly I didn't feel quite so prepared to be tense! Ha!

Well, I'm here to say that this was a pretty interesting and insightful review of this particular parable (found in Luke 15:11-32). MacArthur picks the story apart, explaining historical cultures and ideas that made this story so shockingly relevant for its original hearers. The thing that stood out to me the most about what MacArthur had to say was that Jesus was a master story teller. I have believed this but the way that MacArthur shared the facts made it more clear in my own mind.

I've heard the parables all throughout my life and found this one no less familiar than the others. However I really hadn't given much thought as to the parable's rather abrupt ending or why it was significant that the father RAN to this errant son. I had never thought about why it would be considered amazing/rude for the older and more faithful son to be standing outside of the banquet being given in his lost brother's honor, complaining to his father about the generosity being bestowed upon the son who had squandered the family fortune. Jesus chose each aspect of the story and threw in each detail with wisdom and purpose. He know what would be most impacting in the culture of the day.

As what frequently happens when I study scripture more deeply, I am made aware of things I had never thought of before. Of course, that happens when I read just about anything. Books and stories produce thought. Master story tellers hide gold nuggets of truth in what are sometimes the most unexpected places causing the reader to pause and reflect over words and scenarios that they would never have chosen for themselves. Good story tellers cause eyes to open and the mind to say "ah ha!" in surprising and exciting ways. Jesus was a master at communicating to His listeners. He still is. I just hadn't taken the time to really think through this particular parable before. MacArthur did a good job explaining the historical and cultural significance of this particular parable and if you are remotely interested in learning more about it, this is a great book to pick up! It's an "ah ha!" sort of book and I therefore heartily recommend it.

You can find out more about this book by visiting Thomas Nelson Publishers.


Beth F said...

Too funny about why you picked up the book! Glad it worked out for you anyway.

Anonymous said...

Ooo--that sounds interesting. I'm putting it on my "books to read someday" list!

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