International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday April 24, 2016
Purpose: To welcome the fact that even the most broken family relationship can be mended
Bible Lesson: Luke 15:11-24
Background Scripture: Luke 15:11-32
Key Verse: “This son of mine was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:24)
Luke 15:11-24 (CEB)
(11) Jesus said, “A certain man had two sons. (12) The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the inheritance.’ Then the father divided his estate between them. (13) Soon afterward, the younger son gathered everything together and took a trip to a land far away. There, he wasted his wealth through extravagant living. (14) “When he had used up his resources, a severe food shortage arose in that country and he began to be in need. (15) He hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. (16) He longed to eat his fill from what the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything. (17) When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, but I’m starving to death! (18) I will get up and go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. (19) I no longer deserve to be called your son. Take me on as one of your hired hands.”’ (20) So he got up and went to his father. “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion. His father ran to him, hugged him, and kissed him. (21) Then his son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ (22) But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly, bring out the best robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! (23) Fetch the fattened calf and slaughter it. We must celebrate with feasting (24) because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This parable is the third of three told by Jesus in Luke 15. The setting is Jesus associating with sinners and tax collectors, and the scholars and Pharisees complain about the company he keeps. So Jesus tells 3 parables about being lost. First it is one of a hundred sheep that is lost. Then it is one of 10 coins that is lost. Then, one of two sons, or is it two of two sons that are lost.
The story of the “Prodigal Son” is very familiar to most of us. A disgruntled son decides he wants to get away from his father, and demands that he gets what will be his someday today. In essence he is wishing his father was dead. The father obliges and divides his inheritance up between both sons
The younger son takes all that he has and goes as far away from his father as he can. He enjoys his new freedom and wealth for a season, but finally realizes he needs to work to live. The only job he can find is the most degrading job any Jew could have, taking care of pigs.
The older brother stays home and considers himself a slave to his father, even though he has received his share of the inheritance. The older son remains bitter, and chooses not to spend any of his inheritance.
The younger son eventually realizes his father’s servants have it better than he does. He repents and heads home to ask if he can be a servant in his father’s house.
The older son continues to sulk and feel sorry for himself.
The father watches daily for the younger son to return, and when he sees him coming down the road he runs to meet him. Before he hears his son’s repentance he orders that he be restored to the household with a ring, shoes new clothes and a feast.
The older son is working in the fields and comes home to what should be a joyful time, instead it just increases his bitterness. Jesus never tells us if the older son ever repented. And if we look at the audience Jesus is talking to, those lawyers and Pharisees should be squirming in their self-righteousness. While they think it is about the younger son, Jesus is placing them in the role of the older son.
We rejoice when the lost is found, but we ignore those that live in bitterness. There is little joy in a family that remains divided by bitterness and selfishness.
There is a great Andrae Crouch song “Through it All” that tells the story well.