What does Jesus mean by Luke 15:31?
But he said to him: Son, thou art always with me, and all I have is thine.
Literally, it appears all the son had to do was ask his father for some good thing that he wanted. It appears to me Jesus is repeating His teaching "Ask and it will be given to you, "the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary[God] will [speedily] answer them, etc.
Yet I am perplexed, because God appears not to answer prayers merely if the person really wants something and has the confidence to ask, e.g. Joni Tada hasn’t been healed after 40 years of quadriplegia. Her position makes me wonder whether I ought to give up asking God to heal me, since my problems appear far less than hers. (Of course one can posit reasons why she hasn’t been healed which imply I ought to continue praying for healing: “She hasn’t been healed because she’s saving souls partly because of her predicament” (if she were healed some wouldn’t listen to her), “She hasn’t been healed because she’s Protestant and hasn’t accepted the Eucharist”.)
I’m hoping that you see the point of this question: It’s not enough to say, “Jesus is merely saying the son was already in a state of grace,” because the father is directly answering the son’s objection in verses 27-30: “thou hast killed for him the fatted calf …] yet thou hast never given me a kid to make merry with my friends”. The answer, “Son, thou art always with me, and all I have is thine,” is in response to a claim concerning a material good, something one would like to have but does not need per se. The father appears to be saying, “Just ask for it,” but even beyond that – he appears even to be saying, “Just take it,”* which seems to be consonant with Jesus repeatedly saying that people’s faith is responsible for their healing, as if they themselves materially cooperated with God to bring it about (Matthew 9:29, Luke 8), that God used their belief as like a mechanism to cause it, rather than passively asking and then waiting to see whether God does it, whether it’s ‘in accordance with His will’. Has He not already made His will clear through Jesus? (Luke 5:13)
- Note that I am not proposing a “name it and claim it” system – the Bible clearly teaches a list of prerequisites that must be met: Seeking first the Kingdom of God, not seeking something to spend it on our passions, ‘better to enter into the Kingdom of God crippled than to be wholly cast into hell’ (it mustn’t be a stumbling block causing us to sin), etc. I’m assuming we are reasonably sure these conditions have all been met, just as the son mentioned a kid rather than a bull.
So what is the correct way to understand this passage? Am I wrong on any point? Happy Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist.