Lesson: June 30 – July 6, 2021
AIM: There are so many things that just won’t get you home, but there is one thing that will always get you home, and that is choosing to go home. After studying this lesson students must realize that you go home by CHOICE and not CHANCE! We will see that the older brother also had a choice in how to receive his brother when he returned! After studying this lesson, students are called on to see themselves as the “prodigal” or the “older” son.
It has been said “that you can’t go home again”, but you can! How did the Prodigal son ever get back home? The father did not send a wagon to pick him up. The elder brother did not get on a horse and go looking for him and offer him a lift home. The neighbors did not send him a ticket for the camel caravan to bring him back. Nobody did anything to get him home. He simply said, “I will arise and go home.” He got home by choosing to go home.
That is the way you get anywhere. It is by choice. He did not get home by hoping he would someday get there. He did not get home by wishing himself home. He may have wished he was, and in fact, we know he did wish he was home, and not feeding those dirty pigs. He longed for home, but his longing, wishing, and hoping did not get him home. He could have died an old man in the pig’s slop, and never gotten home if all he had going for him was hoping, longing, and wishing.
Too many times we focus on the younger son and never look closely at the older brother. How will the “prodigal” be received at “home”? How will YOU receive someone who has left, or dropped out, and now here they are wanting to come back! The pastor receives them and restores them back to their former position! How will you react? Get right Church and let’s go home!!
The usual interpretation of this parable is that it highlights the infinite mercy of God the Father towards the repentant sinner. The younger son is attracted by the “care of this world” and he is tempted to leave his father’s house (the Church) to pursue a life of earthly pleasures, Besides, “they” wouldn’t let him do “anything” in the church anyway! But the older son holds faithful to his calling and remains in the church serving his father in spite of everything!
The wayward son recklessly squanders his father’s inheritance in riotous living, and he ends up destitute. We don’t know how long he was gone. Yes, he squandered his father’s treasure, but he also squandered his time and his talent! He is forced to support himself in the meanest job possible, having to feed another man’s pigs! He is living beneath his potential!
Then, a further calamity strikes as the land he is living in is afflicted by covid-19, economy shut-down, and a severe famine! Now his very life is in peril. Having no way out and with his back against the wall, he finally recognizes the folly of his ways. With a heart full of repentance, he decides to go back to his father’s house. As he sets out on his long journey hungry, unwashed, unshaven, with his clothes in tatters, and smelling of pigs, he considers that he is no more worthy to be called his father’s son. The wonder of this parable is that his father had been looking out for him all the time; he saw him coming from a great way off and ran to greet his son with hugs and kisses, this despite his son’s filthy state and the overwhelming smell of pigs which hung all over him.
The moral of the parable appears to be that it does not matter what sins we have committed, or indeed what state we are in, there is always a way back to The Father. But this time in this lesson, we want to take a new look at the prodigal son, the older son, the father and identify them as we return to the Father’s house for a homecoming celebration!
Luke 15:11-19 (NLT)
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. 13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. 17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
- The Younger Son – Wanderer – Symbolic of. . .
- Younger generations
- Persons from another church
Proverbs 21:16 (NLT) – The person who strays from common sense will end up in the company of the dead.
Psalm 119:176 (NLT) – I have wandered away like a lost sheep; come and find me, for I have not forgotten your commands.
- The Rebellion
- He wanted his portion right now!
- He did not want to wait until the father died!
- The father gave the son what he had requested or demanded!
- The younger son asking for his share no doubt was a dagger in his father’s heart.
- In essence he was saying, “I can’t wait for you to die; I want my inheritance now!
- I’m tired of being here and doing nothing!
- Perhaps his older brother made him feel and we make others feel. . .
- He went to a “far” country of which his father did not approve because it was a country filled with pagan religions and immorality.
- Remember: Sin will. . .
- Take you farther then you want to go,
- Make you stay longer than you want to stay,
- Make you pay more then you want to pay.
- The Repentance
- He became aware of his predicament.
- He acknowledged his wrongdoing.
- He made an accurate decision.
Point to Ponder: What “pig pen” do you need to leave? What “pig pen” have you left? Or have you left it?
Luke 15:20-24 (NLT)
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. 22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
III. The Father – Waiting – Symbolic of. . .
Luke 15:25-32 (NLT)
25“Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ 31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
- The Older Son – Working and Whining – Symbolic of. . .
- Long time members
- Older Generation
- Current position holders
- Feels that father is being unfair because. . .
- He reinstates him back without any thought and/or consideration about what the younger son had done.
- He is bitter.
- The Causes of Bitterness
- Bitterness comes from jealousy.
- Jealous Christians believes that others have been blessed more than they deserve.
- Jealous Christians believe that they have been blessed less than they deserve.
- The Contradiction of Bitterness
- An Angry Spirit
- He became angry at the mention of his brother.
- Bitterness is the opposite of love!
- It weeps when others rejoice and rejoices when others weep.
- It is sad when someone is happy and it is happy when someone is sad.
Romans 12:15 (NLT) – Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.
- A Critical Spirit
- His father begged him to come in, but he refused!
- Bitter people are always filled with concern over their own goodness.
- Bitterness spreads like wide fire. Not only is he critical of his younger brother but of his father also.
- His bitterness spreads toward his father, and he resents him for holding a homecoming party for his brother!
- His bitterness is also seen in that he says, “this son of yours” rather than “my brother.”
- Bitterness always spreads because a bitter person is never bitter toward just one person but also toward anyone who is nice to that person!
Ephesians 4:31 (NLT) – Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.
Ephesians 4:31 (AMP) – Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor [perpetual animosity, resentment, strife, fault-finding] and slander be put away from you, along with every kind of malice [all spitefulness, verbal abuse, malevolence].
But the hurt doesn’t always come from family but also from people in the church!
Questions you might want to ask yourself:
- Am I guilty of harsh words and unjust actions toward other brothers and sisters?
- Have I been the recipient of such abuse? If so, am I bitter?
- Have I set things right with others?
- How will I treat someone who had left and now wants to return to “the body of Christ” and is put in a prominent position?
- Or, come from another church and given a prominent position?
- Have I overcome bitterness toward someone because I think they should not be received back to the fellowship because of a previous mistake?
- Am I standing clean and clear before Jesus today?
- Who am I in this parable – the “younger son” or the older brother?
Get right Church and let’s go home!!!
PRAYER PRINCIPLE: Ask God to help you as you develop spiritually that you don’t become critical or angry in dealing with others no matter what they have done in your past.
SOCIAL JUSTICE PRINCIPLE: When you see others that have a demeanor about them that is perpetually bitter or angry, intercede on their behalf by any Godly means necessary.
EVANGELISM PRINCIPLE: Share with others how Christ has prepared you on your journey home.
STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE: Our giving allows us to help others see their way home.
DISCIPLESHIP PRINCIPLE: Although it may appear getting home seems nearly impossible, corrective actions can easily be taken to prepare yourself for home by praying, studying God’s word and becoming an active servant.