Luke concludes the Parable of the Prodigals at chapter 15, verse 32 with the father’s continuing plea to his elder son to accept the return of their younger son and brother: “We had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life.”
Much is unresolved. Something else is alive and unwell. Sibling animosity. The reckless younger brother, through the father’s unconditional forgiveness, has been restored in family favor with all rights and privileges and with no accountability demanded of him. The reliable elder brother bears the double burden of his younger brother’s disdain for responsibility and his father’s seeming indifference to his lifelong diligence and dependability (“Father, for all these years I have worked like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command”).
The father, loving his sons, is the bond that ties the brothers together (or the buffer that shields them from each other!). But what next? One day, the father will die, leaving the brothers to fend for themselves. Thinking of other biblical brothers with stormy relationships (Cain and Abel, Esau and Jacob), what will these two do?
Midrash is Judaism’s interpretative methodology, employing creative imagination guided by textual analysis where biblical “blanks” and “gaps” exist, when the scriptural narrative is silent or shines only the faintest light of meaning.
In that spirit, I invite you, dear readers, to go beyond where Luke stopped. Calling it Luke 15.33f, please write “the rest of the story.” How do you imagine the end of the Parable of the Prodigals?