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A Tale of Two Sons: The Inside Story of a Father, His Sons, and a Shocking Murder Hardcover – April 1, 2008
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About the Author
John MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, president of the Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry. In more than four decades of ministry, John has written dozens of bestselling books, including The MacArthur Study Bible, The Gospel According to Jesus, and Slave. He and his wife, Patricia, have four married children and fifteen grandchildren.
John MacArthur, a pastor for almost 40 years and a natural speaker, reads his own book, a labor of love covering the parable of the Prodigal Son from the Gospel of Luke. This material is close to MacArthur's heart, and he reads it as if he is talking straight to the listener. The material, while largely familiar, still has a hidden wealth of application, and MacArthur has the added benefit of coming to this task after completing commentaries on the rest of the New Testament. The CDs are not very user-friendly, each featuring just one track of over an hour, but the subject matter is so deep and enlightening that this minor drawback does not detract from the experience. S.M.M. © AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Though most people know something of this parable, very few really understand it. We see this even in the name assigned to it--the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The story, after all, was not meant to be primarily a feel-good tale of a father's love for his son, though certainly it is that, too. Rather, "it is a powerful wake-up call with a very earnest warning." The purpose of the parable, as Jesus delivered it, centered on the elder brother--the very character who is so often overlooked in popular re-tellings of the tale.
In the book's opening chapter MacArthur makes clear the central and culminating lesson of the parable: "Jesus is pointing out the stark contrast between God's own delight in the redemption of sinners and the Pharisees' inflexible hostility toward those same sinners." Though the younger son is important to the story, his redemption is not the main point. Rather, this parable is to serve as "a mirror for every human heart and conscience" that will reflect either God's love for fallen sinners or a human hardness and arrogance that would deny that such hardened sinners could ever know His love.
A Tale of Two Sons is classic John MacArthur. If you have read his other books, you'll know what to expect here. It is consistent, methodical exposition of the passage and one that never misses an opportunity to provoke application. It looks to the past to provide historical context and setting that explain many of the story's elements that would otherwise be obscure to people reading 2,000 years later. The book looks first at the parable in its context and then at the story through a wide lens. It then turns to the younger brother, to the father, and finally to the elder brother. It concludes with an Epilogue that describes the shocking real-life ending to this parable--the very conclusion that is so often overlooked in modern adaptations and explanations of the story. Though the story itself has an open ending and Jesus never told whether or not the elder brother repented and discovered the joy of his father, the wider biblical context makes the ending clear. The elder brother, represented by the Pharisees, was hardened in his sin and turned on his father (who represents Christ). The son, in his unrepentant hardness, put the father to death. It is a tragic and sobering ending.
This book is a fine examination of the tale and an powerful explanation of its importance to each of us today. It is suitable for any reader--believer or skeptic, laity or clergy. Read it and you will be blessed!
John MacArthur also shares many cultural and historical facts that, while not necessary to understanding the story (i.e. the Word of God is sufficient), are helpful. For instance, the pods that the swine were eating were probably carob pods, which are barely even edible for pigs, more a bare subsistance food in a time of famine, so the prodigal son is more desperate in his hunger than I had imagined. There are many other details like this.
At times I think, he probably makes a bit much of some cultural detail or another and reads too much into the story, and I felt that he restated some points a few times too many. I think the book could have been reduced in size by about 20% and been the better for it. But, all in all, a worthwhile read. I'm not sure if I'll keep it or not, as it's not the sort of book I'm likely to read again and again, but I acquired it used and am glad to have read it once.
This rebellion did bring this son to his own destruction in his ability to support himself and to what he valued. In his despair he recognized the error in his ways and sought the forgiveness of his Father. He knew he did merit food o, clothing, nor shelter. He knew he could not come back to his Father as if he was owed anything by the Father. The "prodigal son" sought mercy. He had a contrite heart and sought forgiveness from the father, so that he could be a servant. Even this the son did not deserve, but the Father gave him so much more.
The Father reestablished His son as if he never rebelled in the first place. The Father celebrated the return of the son who outwardly rebelled against his Father. Yet the Father did not seek to humiliate the son, but made clear to all that he welcomed the son who rebelled back and celebrated the fact. The story is about the mercy of the Father.
In the story this did not please the other son. Why? Because he sold himself on the idea all the wealth and prestige he had by not being a prodigal earned him his inheritance from the Father. His heart was not grateful for what the father had bestowed upon him. He did not perceive his lack of deprivation and humiliation as a gift from His Father. He did not perceive his obedience even though superficial; as its own blessing, but instead as a means to an end in earning his salvation. He felt he earned the fatted calf and celebration that the Father bestowed upon the younger son. He was anger by his brother's return and the forgiveness of his Father towards his brother. The older was concerned about his own welfare- not that of his Brother or His Father. What gave happiness to his father or what his Father deemed as wise held little weight with the older son.
This book tells how the Pharisees might have understood this story as Jesus spoke to the crowd. How these `men of God' may have perceived themselves as obedient sons to the Father in no need for mercy from the Father. He compares to those who are members of a Christian body but never sought forgiveness for their rebellion to God's will: That a man who may be blessed with relative lack of suffering on this earth may well be cursed because they never have a contrite heart.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Father shows his love and compassion for both his sons.Read more