Summer 2010

The Prodigal Son’s Father Shouldn’t Have Run!

Putting Luke 15:11-32 in context

By Matt Williams

Note: It is so important to read the New Testament with first-century eyes. This lesson on the Parable of the Prodigal Son is taken from The Forgiveness of Jesus, one of 36 DVD Bible studies on the life of Jesus in a six-DVD series called “Deeper Connections,” edited by Talbot School of Theology professor Matt Williams. These studies, which have been used by nearly 200,000 people, explain Jesus’ life and teachings from the first-century context in order to help us understand their deeper meaning and how to apply it to our modern context. Each of the video lessons is introduced from Israel and taught by different New Testament scholars from diverse locations such as the Chicago skyline, the Rocky Mountains, the beach, etc.

One afternoon, when my son was 3 years old, he was upset with me. He decided that it was time to run away from home. He'd had enough of dad. He was going to go it alone — at 3 years old! So, he walked out the garage, walked down the driveway and started walking down the sidewalk. He got three houses down the street before I ran to him — as fast as I could — to hug him and bring him home.

I ran! Of course I ran. That makes perfect sense to us.

In the first century, however, a Middle Eastern man never — never — ran. If he were to run, he would have to hitch up his tunic so he would not trip. If he did this, it would show his bare legs. In that culture, it was humiliating and shameful for a man to show his bare legs.

So, here’s the question: If it was shameful for a man to run in that culture, why did the father run when his son returned to him? What motivated him to shame himself? Before we answer that question, we have to understand an important first-century Jewish custom.

Kenneth Bailey, author of The Cross & the Prodigal, explains that if a Jewish son lost his inheritance among Gentiles, and then returned home, the community would perform a ceremony, called the kezazah. They would break a large pot in front of him and yell, “You are now cut off from your people!” The community would totally reject him.

So, why did the father run? He probably ran in order to get to his son before he entered the village. The father runs — and shames himself — in an effort to get to his son before the community gets to him, so that his son does not experience the shame and humiliation of their taunting and rejection. The village would have followed the running father, would have witnessed what took place at the edge of the village between father and son. After this emotional reuniting of the prodigal son with his father, it was clear that their would be no kezazah ceremony; there would be no rejecting this son — despite what he has done. The son had repented and returned to the father. The father had taken the full shame that should have fallen upon his son and clearly shown to the entire community that his son was welcome back home.

The amazing application for our own lives is crystal clear. Our heavenly Father has taken our shame through his Son, Jesus, who willingly endured the cross on our behalf. He took our sins’ shame so that we would not have to. As a result, we can be forgiven, restored — accepted. We do not have to fear going home to our Father and confessing our sins, no matter what we have done, or how many times we have done it (remember, Jesus taught his followers to forgive 70 times seven).

In the parable, only the father could restore the son to full sonship in the family. In our case, we are sinners, and there is nothing that we can do to restore our lost relationship with the Holy God of the Universe. He calls us and waits — a single repentant step in his direction, and he is off and running to welcome us back home! 

Not only does God forgive us, but he takes upon himself our shame. He lifts off that weight that we carry on our shoulders for our past mistakes, and willingly wipes the slate clean once more. May we experience what the prodigal son encountered upon returning to the 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” (Luke 15:20).

Matt Williams is an associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Biola’s Talbot School of Theology. He holds a Ph.D. from Trinity International University.


Subscribe to Comments


  • Ivan December 14, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    Good word, Matt! Thank you!!

  • Patrick Ward December 3, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    I have heard that the story of the Prodigal Son was well known in Jesus' time, but the ending in the traditional Jewish story was that the lost son remained lost, or even died a horrible and shameful death. This story would be used to reinforce upholding traditional Jewish values and discourage assimilation to the cultures around them.

    Jesus took this story and turned it into a story that shows God's love and mercy on the repentant.

  • Rich emanuel April 18, 2013 at 7:28 AM

    Great commentary. I've often wondered why Jesus allowed himself to experience so much more than the blood sacrifice required by old testament law. Why the desertion/betrayal of friends? Why the beatings, humiliation, shame of nakedness, unfair trials, unbelievable pain of crucifixion ? Why did the prodigals father allow for the shame of showing bare legs and accepting his sinful son back? The crucifixion is about so much more than "fulfilling prophecy ". It shows the passion of God who not only bought our salvation but identified with all our sins and pain .

  • Jose Xavier July 19, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Thank you so much for this article .It made such wonderful reading .I am told this is the only time in the Bible where God is portrayed as 'running' ! Isn't it wonderful that he did this to welcome his repentant son and save him from shame .It sure gives me a better understanding of the expression 'Amazing Grace' !!!


    Jose Xavier


  • Paul McCarthy August 30, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    Blown away by Our Heavenly Father's Great & Awesome Love to us.

  • juliet September 20, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    thank you so much.i am really blessed and touch by the treasures you have shared.

  • S. Pusha October 23, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    Thank you for sharing this! This adds a whole new meaning to the story! Thanks for the pointers!

  • Dee October 30, 2013 at 10:57 PM

    Can only say Amen to Rich's comments as it reiterates my heart. One can only be so humbled and be so extremely grateful for Gods love for his children. It hits you right in the core of your being and of late I often thought how on earth could I have wasted so much precious time... A real "oh duh" feeling. Gosh how often have I drank from the wells of the sewer, when the fountain of life given water was right in front of me but I was to blind to see. Thank you Abba Father for your unconditional love.

  • carolyn January 19, 2014 at 7:22 AM

    Great article! If you look carefully at the painting you will see that one of the fathers hands looks like a female hand....a representation of th maternal love of a mother? The gentle love of a mother? Fascinating.

  • kevin January 28, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    It IS amazing love isn't it? Also amazing when the father runs, too. The father does not run after the son when the son leaves does he? In the same way, God did not create us as automatons, but instead created us with the ability to make choices. The motivation of the son is his desire to live the way he would choose to live, which is not the plans of the father. He rebels against the plans of the father (Garden of Eden). When the son recognizes his need to be saved, only when he is broken, did he heed the Spirit's call to be reunited with his father.

    So amazing, too, is that the father did not require the son to pay back his inheritance in order to restore fellowship with his father. Grace and mercy come together.

    To reconcile means to unite (conciliare) again (re). This means it is a 3 stage process - at one time we were in fellowship with God (before the fall). Something had to have happened (the imputation of Christ's righteousness upon us) for us to be reconciled with the Father.

    Good discussion - what life applications can WE learn from this? Knowing that we have been reconciled, what do we do (not meaning works based salvation) now?

  • Pharmb341 June 6, 2014 at 12:29 AM

    Very nice site!

  • christian.jayden August 26, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    Love can be very tricky, and does not always work out how we would like it
    to. This can cause us heartbreak and uncertainty in our personal lives.
    However, now we are able to alter our relationship, or the relationship of
    a loved one with the assistance of Love Spells. I have tried it and it
    worked perfectly well for me, i wont want to share my story for reasons
    best known to me. I got my spell cast at lord mazula SPELL TEMPLE. His
    Spells cover most aspects of Love. If you want a spell in any aspect of you
    love life, here is were you can contact him

  • clara October 23, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    Hi.. everyone on here my name is clara I know finding solutions and help from spellcasters these days seems really difficult and untrue... but i will have to tell you that there is indeed a great spellcaster with the best ever solution
    you can get in life, I came across him after so many trials with other spellcasters...He is the great doctor OKUKU from the home of solutions where you have your heart desires back begging to come to you..
    HE is specialized in all problems or troubles encountered in ones life such as
    .... love marriage
    >:= Business problem
    >:= Problem in husband wife
    >:= Foreign traveling
    >:= Problem in study
    >:= Problem as childless
    >:= Physical problem
    >:= Problem in family relations
    >:= problem in your love
    >:= Willful marriage

    Get all solutions in your life within 36 hours and
    with 100% guaranteed. contact him on

  • Andrea Jean October 23, 2014 at 7:56 PM

    i want to thank Dr Zaba for bringing back my ex husband, we broke up for more than 4 month and he told me that he never want to see me in his life again. i love him so much to the extend that i could not do any thing again, i was confused and depress due to the love i had for him.i did everything i could do to have him come back to me but all went in vain. so i decided to contact a spell caster, i did not believe in spell casting i just want to try it may be it would work out for me. i contacted Dr Zaba for help, he told me that he have to cast a love spell on him, i told him to start it. after 3 days my husband called me and started to apologize for leaving me and also he told me that he still love me. i was very happy and i thank Dr Zaba for helping me get back my ex husband back to my hands. his spell is the the greatest all over the world, it was the love spell he cast on my ex that make him come back to me. all you ladies who want back the ex husband back i want you to contact Dr Zaba at the following email address and get all your problem solve..No problem is too big for him to solve..Contact him direct at (ZABASPELLHELP@GMAIL.COM) OR ( and get your problems solve or you can call his cell pheno on +2348056391583

  • derek natasha October 23, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    Hi, my name is Derek Natasha. I have been in great bondage for almost 2 years suffering in the hands of a cheating husband,we were happy and leaving well until he meant his old time girl friend and he started dating her outside our marriage before you knew it he stoped caring and taking care of his own family it was to the extent that he was planning to get married to her and divorce me his own wife, i have cried and reported him to his family but he never listened to any one but to cut my story short i came in search for a real spell caster who could destroy their relationship and make him come back to me and our 2 kids on my search i saw people making testimony on how their marriage where restored by Dr.Trust i pick his email and i narrated my story to him and he agreed to help me and after performing a spell on the second day both had a quarrel and he beat his girlfriend up and he came home begging for i and my little kids to forgive him that his eyes are clear now that he will never do any thing that will hurt his family again and promise to be a caring father and never cheat again.I am so so happy that i did not loose him to the girl. all appreciation goes to Dr.Trust for you are a Great spell caster and to whom this may concern if you have a cheating husband or wife or you need your ex lover back again. you can as well email him on ( or or or you can call him +2348156885231.

  • David Eric October 23, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    I am David Eric,I want to say thank to for everything he did in my life. To everyone who doesn't believe in spell, I was one like you at first. I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to do this since I've tried others so-called spells casters and they did not work and was a waste of my time and money. However, when I read so many testimonials of dr.tust how he help people to get back their ex lover. dr.tust answered all my questions and was very nice about everything, I decided to give it a try. I figured it would be my last try to get my ex girlfriend back. So my story is that I was at my office when the girl I suppose to marry told me that she wasn't in love with me and never will it be and that she didn't want to speak or see me again, especially since she was talking to this other guy. i email and tell him everything.he let me know which spells would be most appropriate for me and I chose the one that was to get her back to me and stay with me and to marry me.As soon as he finish the spells, my girlfriend came back into my life! It was a miracle to me and I’m so thankful to him, that is why i am sharing this testimony to those who need his help. Things have been going well, and pretty much according to what said would happen. I’m very happy for the love spell have done for me, my ex girlfriend is now back to me and we are living so happy. if you asked me or my friends if I would have anticipated how things were right now…no one would believe it! contact is email address ( or tell +2348156885231) David Eric

  • julie mattie October 23, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    my name is JULIE MATTIE. When i read a testimony online on how dr.drust the great and most powerful spell caster online of great ultimate temple, i was wondering how can this be true, Because many has failed me in the past without any result from them. I just let the post pass by and move on the forum. To my notice under again, Some person posted and said tested and trusted spell caster. After reading through the mail it was this same she was talking about. So i have no other option than to really check up how he works. Thank him for making my wish come true! I was totally devastated when my beloved lover left me. It was like my entire world vanishing into sorrow and pain. I felt how sincere, honest and authentic he was from his first email. I know it sounds weird but out of all the spell casters I contacted, he was the only one to give me that impression of being so true and trustful. More than his words, it s the fantastic work he accomplished for me that I will keep in mind. He brought my lover back and he made all my wishes come true. He is now loyal, pays attention to me, he offers me flowers every Sunday, and we often go out at the cinema and the restaurant. I will be forever thankful for turning my life from hell to heaven! i believe who need help should get to him for help. TRULY SPEAKING THIS MAN IS REALLY A GREAT SPELL CASTER AS HE DID NOT FAIL ME BUT GRANT MY WISHES BY BRING MY HUSBAND BACK TO ME. if you are passing through any kind of difficult in your relationship email him and he will help you ( or tel:+2348156885231) to get the problem solve, Because there is no spell caster online like him.

  • Hansford Ann October 23, 2014 at 9:23 PM

    My name is Handford Ann,i base in canada.i want to share my wonderful testimony on how i got back my ex-lover of my life back, who i sworn to be with until when he left me to another woman for no reason and i try to make things work for both of us yet things where getting worse and i love him so much and there is nothing i could do to get my ex back until i met a testimony share by Maria from USA on the internet talking about a powerful spell caster who brought his ex lover back within 48hours and i decide to give it a try and to my greatest surprise he also did it for me just as he did for Maria and i have a lot of people complaining of fake spell caster but this one i met was a real spell caster who help me to solve my problem i have no solution to,i introduce many of my best friends that have a similar problems,and their problem were solve with the great help of dr.Trust.they get back their ex within 48 hours.i am so happy that my ex is back to me again,and the most surprise,is that our love is very strong,every day is happiness and joy. and there is nothing like been with the man you love.i am so happy my love is back to me with the help of Dr.Trust.if you have similar problem i will advice you to contact him ,he is there to help you and put a smile on your face ask he did to me and email( or call +2348156885231) what will i have done if not the great help of Thanks Handford Ann from canada.

  • Bianca October 23, 2014 at 9:45 PM

    my ex-boyfriend dumped me 8 months ago after I caught him of having an affair with someone else and insulting him. I want him back in my life but he refuse to have any contact with me. I was so confuse and don’t know what to do, so I visited the internet for help and I saw a testimony on how a spell caster (Dr Zack Balo) help them to get their ex back so I contact the spell caster (Dr Zack Balo) and explain my problems to him….. he cast a spell for me and assure me of 3 days that my ex will return to me and to my greatest surprise the third day my boyfriend came knocking on my door and beg for forgiveness. I am so happy that my love is back again and not only that, we are about to get married. Once again thank you for helping me to get my love back and your love spell is truely perfect, you are truly talented and gifted i will continue to publish your name on the net because of the good work you are doing.If you need his help contact him now through his email: CAN CONTACT HIM NOW AND GET YOUR PROBLEM SOLVED email:

  • Kim Rice October 24, 2014 at 3:02 AM


    Oh Geez! A POWERFUL SPELL CASTER HERE IN THE UNITED STATES!!! i never believed that i would get my Andrew back! i was never really a fan of spells but when i was hit with reality seeing my man being taken away from me by a fellow woman i had to seek help.. i was scammed by spell casters from Nigeria and South Africa all to no avail until i tried LORD ORANGAN TUTU who just relocated to the United States! i was like yes i can deal with this as he is here in my home Country, he got to work and I GOT RESULTS IN DAYS!! NO GIMMICKS! Need a POWERFUL SPELL CASTER? Text him via his mobile (+1 512 758 4614) and also send a email via ( Trust me! so far all other Spell casters are FAKE!!! Don't waste time and money and also Trauma you will go true! Take My humble advice and contact him..FOR ANY TYPE OF SPELL. As far as its a spell? Lord Orangan Tutu Can handle it!! ( You will be glad you did! Thank me later!!!

  • Anna James October 24, 2014 at 5:24 AM

    Thank you for your article! It touches my heart deeply because I have recently went through something similar case .About 3 years ago my husband left me and 2 of our kids for 3years to another woman. During this years of our separation I was so broken, so I finally went to a friend of mine who directed me to a spell caster Dr. Oduduwa ( who helps me in reunite my family and then i felt peace and whole love again. 3 days After the casting of the love spell, My Ex-husband called me on phone and apologized to me. so I obeyed and we started dating and hanging out as a family with the kids again, Dr. Oduduwa has restored our marriage in a way I have NEVER expected, but I'm truly Thankful!

    Contact Dr. Oduduwa today on:
    Best Regards,
    Anna Anderson Moon

  • Stacyb brown October 24, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    I am Mrs Stacy Brown. I grew up and live in Texas here in the united state of America.
    I was living a scattered life with my ex. Because he always get me beaten everyday. Now i have two kids for him.
    He left me in the past to Florida in search of this other woman. I never new he was not happy with the marriage.
    It really touched me. I cried everyday for him. But one day my best friend came to visit me and
    I laid everything that happen between I and him to her. She introduce me to these spell casting sites.
    there I met Dr Malaika ( He is a good and wonderful spell caster.
    He consulted his powerful oracle and told me not to worry that after two days he will come begging me.
    It really worked. After the 2 days I met him on our door step crying and begging me that he made a mistake.
    That i should forgive him. I really did forgave him. And we got back to our marriage.
    Dr Malaika later casted a spell that made me got pregnant for my husband am so happy cos i just gave birth to
    my second baby Ann. We are living happily married now and am so grateful to Dr malaika for all he has done for me.
    hi email address is; and the mobile is +2348097302201 he will gladly help if anyone contacts him.

  • Stacy October 24, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    I am Mrs Stacy Brown. I grew up and live in Texas here in the united state of America.
    I was living a scattered life with my ex. Because he always get me beaten everyday. Now i have two kids for him.
    He left me in the past to Florida in search of this other woman. I never new he was not happy with the marriage.
    It really touched me. I cried everyday for him. But one day my best friend came to visit me and
    I laid everything that happen between I and him to her. She introduce me to these spell casting sites.
    there I met Dr Malaika ( He is a good and wonderful spell caster.
    He consulted his powerful oracle and told me not to worry that after two days he will come begging me.
    It really worked. After the 2 days I met him on our door step crying and begging me that he made a mistake.
    That i should forgive him. I really did forgave him. And we got back to our marriage.
    Dr Malaika later casted a spell that made me got pregnant for my husband am so happy cos i just gave birth to
    my second baby Ann. We are living happily married now and am so grateful to Dr malaika for all he has done for me.
    hi email address is; and the mobile is +2348097302201 he will gladly help if anyone contacts him.

  • sarah October 24, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    hello everyone this really worked and i am proud to testify also. i saw a post on how a lady got her husband back and i decided to try this prophet that helped her because my relationship was crashing. although i never believed in spiritual work i reluctantly tried him because i was desperate but to my greatest surprise this prophet helped me and my relationship is now perfect just as he promised my husband now treats me like a queen even when he had told me before he doesn't love me anymore. well, i can not say much but if you are passing through difficulties in your relationship try him here is his email of a truth he really helps again his email his

  • brunt walter October 24, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    Am brunt walter by name I gonna tell the whole world this testimony about what dr. Iyere did for me, he brought joy to my heart, this is what happened, am an ENGINEER I got a contract in DUBAI, then I traveled there to execute the contract, when I got back, to my greatest surprise I met my wife and another man on our matrimonial bed infact I was confused not know what to do then I ask my wife who was the man, with boldness my told that the man was her boyfriend that she doesn't love me anymore immediately she packed her belongage and left with the man, I was short of words, I never knew women could be so heartless that way, I love my wife I couldn't just let her go like that,I have to find a way to get her back, I went to a friend name (johnson) and told him everything and how it all happened then he told me not to worry that he was going to take me to where my problem will be solve, he really took me to the place getting there I explain everything to the spell caster then he told me what to do that after two days my wife will come back begging me to forgiVe her, I really did as he instructed, to my greatest surprise after two days I saw my wife on her kneels begging me to forgive her that it was the devil's work, that's was when I know dr iyere is a powerful spell caster.
    I want to use this opportunity to tell those that have similar problem be it male or female to please contact dr iyere on this email-, he's a powerful spell caster thanks.
    His number +447031946556

  • barnett angela October 24, 2014 at 2:47 PM


  • Alice October 24, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    I am Alice from New York USA,I want to use this golden opportunity to appreciate the great spell caster called Dr.makuta for helping me get back my relationship with my ex lover when he ended and turned his back on me for quite a long period of time. Dr.makuta performed a spell for me and within 48 hours after the spell had been cast i receive a call from my ex saying that he is sorry for hurting me and that he will not do such thing to me in his life again, I was surprised but later accepted him back. Anyone that is in the same line of problem or having difficulties in there marriages or any part of life should contact Dr.makuta email ,.....

Post a comment

Your email will not be published as part of your comment.

Issue Highlights

Back to Summer 2010 Home

Biola University
13800 Biola Ave. La Mirada, CA 90639