6/15/14: Modern Parables 6: Prodigal Sons
On Sunday, June 15 we studied the sixth and final parable in our “Modern Parable” series — the Parable of the Lost Sons (Luke 15:11-32). Typically known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son, this well-known story actually features two prodigals — a younger brother lost in self-indulgence and an older brother lost in self-righteousness.
Jesus told this story to a mixed crowd consisting of Pharisees and sinners, teachers of the law and tax collectors. It was the third in a series of stories about lost things — a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. The stories were clearly designed to help the religious elite understand how God felt about those who are spiritually lost (and those who despise them).
The video version of the parable is narrated by the older brother, a hard-working VP in his father’s prosperous health care management company. Contempt for his younger brother oozes out of every pore…and when Dad throws a lavish party to welcome the prodigal home, older brother shows his true colors in a tirade against his father. It’s interesting to note that in a church like ours there are probably a lot more “older brothers” than “younger brothers” — young men and women who resist the world’s call to self-indulgence, but who wander from God’s grace by relying on their own righteousness. This parable reveals how the glorious gospel rescues us from both extremes of lostness!
How fitting that we would reflect on these two lost sons and their gracious father on Father’s Day! Our Heavenly Father’s kindness is something we can never earn but is freely offered as a gift. May each of these students say “Yes!” to his invitation!
FOR DISCUSSION WITH PARENTS
- How is the younger son surprised by his father’s greeting? What effect does this have on him?
(Hint: See Romans 2:4)
- What does the older brother focus on in his younger brother that makes him angry and resentful? What does the father focus on that makes him joyful?
- Blinded by his own “goodness,” the older son does not see his need for his father’s mercy. Do you?
- Which of these two lost sons is most like you? Why?