Tag Archives: Ceratonia siliqua

Lost Son, Lost You

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Bible Reference: Luke 15:11-32

The parable of the lost son is one of the longer parables that Christ told. It was the last of three parables in which Jesus made the point that God searches for the lost, whether a sheep, coin, or person. Plant pods were mentioned, seemingly in passing, in the parable; however, the pods played a central role in incentivizing the lost son to return home to his father.

The context for the parable of the lost son is vital to understanding and interpreting it. At the time a large crowd was following Jesus as he traveled from Galilee southward to Jerusalem. Some in the crowd believed what Jesus taught; others wanted to see him perform a great miracle. Some Pharisees traveled with the group. Carefully, they watched Jesus’s behavior and listened to what he said learn if he did or said anything that contradicted Jewish law.

At this particular time, tax collectors and other sinners gathered around Jesus. The Pharisees and teachers of the law started to mutter that Jesus welcomed sinners and even ate with them. In response Jesus told this parable:

There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father,
“Father, give me my share of the estate.”So he divided his property between them. 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. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

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When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 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. The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”  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. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate.

So far, so good!!! The parable sounded the same as that of the lost sheep and lost coin. Listening tax collectors and sinners, who identified with the younger son, rejoiced to hear that God forgave them unconditionally. Even the Pharisees and teachers of the law had no criticism of Jesus’s words at this point. They believed that repentant sinners could be restored to fellowship with God. If Jesus had stopped there, all would have been well. What Jesus said next offended and further alienated the Pharisees. Here are Jesus exact words as recorded by Luke:

Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him whatwas going on. “Your brother has come,” he replied, “and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.” The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 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. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” “My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” 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.”

When Jesus finished the parable, all who listened knew that the older brother was the Pharisees. Jesus’s parable exposed the Pharisees for what they were, i.e., hard-hearted, self-righteous prigs, who believed that their life style earned them special merit before Father God. In their opinion everything they did was right. God was happy to have them as believers and would welcome them into his kingdom. As the older son looked down on the younger, Pharisees looked down on tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners. Pharisees had no awareness of their need for a savior. Their opinion of themselves couldn’t let them believe that Jesus’s considered them spiritually impoverished.

1-Carob Pod

The Carob Tree

The pods that the unrepentant son longed to eat were carob pods, the fruit of the Ceratonia siliqua tree. Likely, carob trees were brought from Babylon by Jewish exiles who returned to Judea. In ancient Israel, carob trees were also called John’s bread and the locust tree. When John the Baptists lived in the wilderness, he ate locust and wild honey. Possibly, he ate carob pods rather than the locust insect. Carob trees grew wild throughout Palestine to include in desert areas. In Bible time pods were used to feed livestock. Carob trees produced pods even in time of drought and famine.

Reflection: How would you feel if your son or daughter said, “I wish you were dead?” This is what the younger son said to his father. Are you living as if you wished or declared that God is dead?

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright: January 6, 2016; Carolyn A. Roth

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Prodigal Son Eats Carob Pods

Carob Pod

The parable of the lost son eating carob tree husks is in Luke 15:11-32.       

Christ told the parable of the lost, or prodigal, son in response to the Pharisees and teachers of the law criticizing him for welcoming and eating with sinners. This parable was one of three parables that made the point that God searches for the lost, whether a lost sheep, coin, or person.  The parable of the prodigal son goes like this:

A father had two sons. The younger asked his father for his inheritance. After receiving his share of the estate, the young man went into another country and squandered the money on wild living.  After his money was spent, there was a severe famine in the entire country. With no money, the young man hired himself out to a citizen who sent him to the fields to feed pigs. The young man longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating; but no one gave him anything to eat. 

Sometime later the young man came to his senses and determined to go home to his father. He planned to tell his father that he no longer deserved to be called a son; he would gladly be treated like a hired man.

From a far distance, the father saw his son returning home. He ran to his son and hugged and kissed him. The son confessed to his father that he sinned and was no longer worthy to be called a son. Before the son could asked his father to treat him like a hired hand, the father called servants to bring a robe, a ring for his son’s hand, and sandals for his feet. The father ordered a feast to celebrate the younger son’s return.

During the celebration, the older son came home from working in the field. He learned his younger brother returned home and his father ordered a celebration. The older son became angry and would not enter the house. When his father came out to him, the older son complained that he served his father year after year, never disobeying him; however, his father never gave him an animal to hold a celebration with his friends. Yet, the younger son who demanded then squandered his inheritance came home and is greeted with a party.  

The father acknowledged the older son’s value saying you are always with me and everything I have is yours. At the same time, the father averred that they must celebrate the younger son’s return because “this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (Matthew 15:32).

Carob Pods

The pods that the younger son longed to eat were carob pods, the fruit of the Ceratonia siliqua.  Common names are carob tree, St. John’s bread, locust tree, and Egyptian fig.  Although the carob tree grows to 55 feet in the United States, in Israel carob trees are smaller. After pollination, long (up to 12 inches by 1 inch) pods develop.  Pods are filled with soft brown pulp and 10-13 flat, hard seeds. In May on Kibbutz Ketura in the southern Negev Desert, I gathered and ate a ripe carob pod. It tasted sweet and was fibrous. Carob pods are grounded into flour and used to make a cocoa (chocolate) substitute.  

Symbolism: Substitute

The carob plant can be associated with several concepts. The genus name of the carob tree, Ceratonia, is comes from the Greek word keras (κερας) meaning “horn,” the shape of the carob pod. Called poor man’s bread, carob pods and flour are also associated with humility. Certainly both horn and humility make sense in the parable of the lost son; however, so does “substitute.” 

As a noun substitute means a person or thing that takes the place or function of another. Used as a verb, substitute means to exchange, switch, and replace with.

Substitute is what the younger son did in this parable. He substituted his life as a valued son for a short life of flagrant living followed by feeding pigs. He replaced eating the best foods money could buy with longing to have carob pods to eat. He planned to ask his father to substitute life as a hired hand for life as a younger son.  From a Kingdom of God perspective, Christ substituted his perfection for our sin.  Christ was the perfect substitute for each of us, who would be lost and starving without him.

Have you thought about what you are substituting in your life for time with God? Is it your kids, spouse, career, or even activities at church. I look at celebrities and pundits — many have no discernible relationship with God. They are substituting glory here on earth for the glory of spending time with God in heaven.

Reflection.  Do you want the real thing or are you content with substitutes in your life?

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

September 2, 2013; Carolyn A. Roth