0. Foreward to the Series

I outlived my father—thus far—by 81 years and my mother also thus far—by 25 years. And I suppose I still have some time to go. At any rate, our children should outlive us, maybe not the 81 years, but at least several. So I wanted to take this time and opportunity to compile this little work for them and some close friends, so that they would have something very personal and mental to remember me by.  I first preached these in Hanford. And of course, they have been preached both here and in Pineville and the work of Dr. Bailey was added to them.

All my love,
Yours in Christ,
Linsey H. Dettmer

Luke 15:11-32  Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 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.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

With some revisions and changes this is a series of sermons I preached in California, Louisiana  and Tennessee based on the insight I gained from two people: Kenneth Bailey and Paul Bretsche Dr. Bretscher was a professor at Valparaiso, Indiana. I met him in a conference in Oklahoma City in 1970. Included in his presentation was a reworking of the Prodigal Son parable from many different points of view.

Some years later at a convention, I was introduced to Dr. Bailey’s  book, Finding the Lost—Cultural Keys to Luke 15. I was and still am thoroughly engrossed in his research. His point of view briefly stated is that Jesus lived and spoke in the Near Eastern language and culture. His words, although inspired, were translated into the western language of Greek and taken to the West where they have been translated and expanded upon into the western languages, customs and thought patterns. However, some Christians remained behind in the Near East and remained in the language and customs in which Jesus shared His messages. In time Near Eastern Christians also wrote their own commentaries which remained true to the Near Eastern thought patterns and customs. I give full credit to Dr. Bretscher for breaking away from the traditional ways of looking at a parable and for some of the sermonic ideas.  I also give full credit to Dr. Bailey for his insight into Near—Eastern understanding of the teachings of our Lord.

I made straight “A’s” in college English and still remember the rules. However I have found that written English, spoken English and “sermonic” English are not always one in the same thing! I wrote this as I preached it.  I suggest you read this devotionally, one sermon per evening.

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