Sometimes chiasm hides right out in the open, in texts most familiar to us, in passages we love much. “If it had been a snake, it would have bit us.” All because we modern Westerners think and hear a story only in linear, not in cyclical, fashion, with the climax and emphasis in a story being found in its center, not at its conclusion.
Now who doesn’t love the story of “the prodigal son (Luke 15.11-32)? But, if ever a story had a misnomer, this is it for the emphasis in the story is not about the son and his actions, but about how that son’s father treats his prodigal. For what the father does in this story would have been unthinkable and profoundly shameful in an ancient honor-shame based, Middle Eastern society.
As good as it is that the prodigal comes home, what is truly good is that the father is merciful when his son returns home, for everything rides on that.
“The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him …” (Daniel 9.9)
Chiasm makes it all clear and emphatic.