Sunday School 4/19/2020

Mrs. Joyce Hicks

April 19th

Luke 15: 11-32

  • And he said, A certain man had two sons:
  • And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
  • And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
  • And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
  • And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
  • And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
  • And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
  • I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
  • And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
  • And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
  • And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
  • But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
  • And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
  • For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
  • Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing.
  • And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
  • And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
  • And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
  • And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
  • But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
  • And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
  • It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Last week we talked about the parable of the “one little lost lamb” and the “lost coin” and how we should be rejoicing in the fact that we were once lost but now found and for “anyone” who is saved.  If you remember, the Pharisees were murmuring against Jesus for being with sinners, even eating with them.  Jesus continued to teach them using the parables, letting them know that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.  Even if it was someone the Scribes and Pharisees wouldn’t be seen with!  I don’t know about y’all, but I am very thankful that God doesn’t play that game. 

Jesus continues with his parable of “The Prodigal Son”.   Now, I’m sitting here thinking of how many different sermons and Sunday school lessons I have heard or read about this portion of scripture.  You can look at it from a lot of different angles.  But first, please read what Chuck Smith, David Guzik and John MacArthur have to say about it. 

So we so often hear marvelous sermons preached from the parable of the prodigal son, but rarely do we ever hear a message that really gives the true meaning of the parable, or the real reason for the parable. The reason wasn’t just to show the father receiving with joy a son that was lost, but the parable was used to show the Pharisees how wrong was their condemnation of Him when they said, “He receives sinners and eats with them.” They should have been rejoicing over it, rather than griping over it. – Chuck Smith

i. In each of the parables, the message to the tax collectors and sinners was clear: repent, come home to the father. The message to the religious leaders was also clear: be happy when the lost are found, when they repent and come home to the father. (Guzik)

Like the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin, this parable depicts God’s joy over the salvation of the lost.  But while the first two parables emphasize God’s part in seeking sinners this third one, while touching on God as the seeker, focuses more on the human aspect of salvation – man’s sin, rejection, repentance, and return to God.  It is a dramatic, moving story of the sinner’s desperate penitence and of God’s love and eager forgiveness for such sorrow. (MacArthur)

Pretty much hits the nail on the head!  Not sure what else I can say.  Nevertheless, I will do my best to pull out a few nuggets to discuss with you.

Wasn’t Jesus the ultimate story teller?

Three Characters of the story

  • Younger son
  • Father
  • Older son

FYI: According to what I can understand, under the law, when someone had 2 sons, the older son got 2/3rds of the inheritance and the younger son got 1/3rd.

Well, the younger son (spoiled probably – I am the youngest in my family so I can say this) was not happy at home evidently, so he asked his Father to please go ahead and give him his inheritance.  He wanted to see how the rest of the world lived!  His Father, probably reluctantly, gave him what he asked for.  

Now, our Heavenly Father, does this to us sometimes, He gives us what we ask for knowing that we will be learning a hard lesson.   (reminds me of that song, “Thank God for unanswered prayers”!)

Never paid attention to the fact that verse 12 says: and he divided unto THEM his living.  So I’m guessing that the father in this story kinda now had what we now call a “Life Estate” (continue to possess and use the property as a “life tenant” for as long as you live). Keep this in mind until we get to the part of the older brother!

Now can you imagine what the neighbors said? I’m sure news traveled fast about what was going on at the farm!

            Murmuring, Shame, Scorn, Disgraceful, Foolish, Dishonorable…..

It didn’t take the younger son long to get packed and get out of dodge.  He didn’t hang around home to spend his inheritance, he went to a far country.  

As MacArthur says “he wanted to sin beyond the range of all accountability, far away from his father and the villagers, who scorned him for his disgraceful behavior. His action symbolizes the foolishness of the sinner trying to flee from God, to whom he does not want to be answerable.”

And wasted his inheritance with riotous living.  He probably had a lot of “new found friends” to help him waste his inheritance.  But after he had spent it all, there happened along a mighty famine in that far country.  And he began to get hungry!  I’m sure all his new friends had all went their separate ways after the money run out.  Here he was, alone, and hungry. 

He was so hungry and desperate that he actually took a job feeding swine.  Now you know he was pretty desperate to do that.  Jews were not allowed to do anything that involved pigs! 

Now as he was feeding the pigs, he was so hungry that he was even considering joining the pigs for supper!

This being on your own stuff wasn’t as great as he had imagined.  He found himself bankrupt, empty, destitute, hungry, alone with no one to help him.  Can you imagine what was going through his mind. What am I going to do? I’ve really messed up this time. Oh if I could just go back to my Father’s house!  

In verse 17, scripture says, “He came to himself”.  He had an “aha” moment.

  • MacArthur says “the younger son’s actions picture the kind of repentance that can lead to salvation.  He came to his senses and realized that his situation was desperate.  He remembered his father’s goodness, compassion, generosity, and mercy and trusted in them.  In the same way, the repentant sinner takes stock of his situation and acknowledges his need to turn from his sin.  He realizes that there is no one to turn to except the Father whom he has shamed and dishonored and by faith, with nothing to offer, turns to Him for forgiveness and reconciliation on the basis of His grace.

Now, the younger son is thinking….if I was to go back home, my Father will hopefully at least let me be one of his hired servants. 

Verse 18-19 is his rehearsal speech to his Father. 

I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants.

I don’t know how long it took him to get back home, there is no telling how many times he rehearsed this in his mind on the way. 

Haven’t we all done this.  Rehearsed in our mind what we will say to someone.  It rarely turns out the way we had rehearsed it! This was no exception.

Verse 20 says… when he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

I love this verse.  This is a picture of what God does when we finally come to our senses and repent and come back to Him! 

In Verse 21 he tells his father what he has been rehearsing in this heart and mind.  But the Father was just so glad to have him back home where he belonged (verse 22-24) says that he told his servants: Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feetAnd bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merryFor this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.  

  • Shoes on the feet were significant, because the slaves were never given shoes, only the family members, the son. Slaves were never given shoes by their masters. That is why in that old Negro spiritual that came out of the slave days, “You gotta shoes, I gotta shoes, all God’s children got shoes. When we get to heaven gonna put on our shoes.” I am not going to be a slave any more. I am a son. I am a child of God. And that hymn looked forward to that day when they would have shoes. They would be acclaimed the sons of God in that heavenly kingdom. That was just one thing about slavery, you never gave your slave a pair of shoes. – Chuck Smith
  • I thought this was interesting.  Most of the sermons or lessons you hear on this parable highlight the robe, ring and fatted calf.

Can you imagine what the Pharisees and Scribes were thinking at this moment?

  • How could he have just welcomed him back like that? 
  • He should have maintained his honor by refusing to see him. 
  • Make him wait for a few days in shame.
  • He should make him work to repay the inheritance he has squandered.

Probably thinking of all the rabbis’ teachings of that day that would have required such things.

But the Father!  Oh how he loved him.  He was watching and waiting for him to come home.  Can you just imagine him sitting out on the porch each day just hoping that today would be the day that his son would come back home.  He had probably rehearsed in his mind what his actions would be too.  And they were nothing like what the prodigal son had imagined. 

Finally, he sees his son coming!  He takes off running. Now that in itself was unheard of. Especially for a man of his status.  In order to run you had to gather up the long robe and in doing so, your legs were exposed, which was considered shameful. But he didn’t care about that.  He only knew that this, his son, was back home.

Did you notice that the son didn’t say the part about “make me one of your hired servants”?  He didn’t have to. Why?

MacArthur tells us why? “Because there was no need to work to earn restoration and reconciliation.  His father had received him back as a son.  He did not have to crawl back one day at a time into his father’s good graces, but was instantly forgiven, given mercy, and already reconciled.  The son’s reception is a true illustration of believers, who come in by repentance and faith directed toward God, pleading for His grace and forgiveness apart from works – and receiving full sonship.

Now the older brother (who had by the way, been home with the Father all this time, working the family farm, being obedient!) came home and asked what was going on.  When he found out, he was very mad and stayed outside and pouted.  His true feelings came to the surface. 

He should have been thrilled to see that his younger brother was back home, safe and sound. But he wasn’t.  He, of course, represents the scribes and Pharisees in this story and does a good job at it.  Jesus was good at casting the right person to portray them!  You ever watch a movie and say “gosh, they really play that part well”. Well, the older brother really played the part well of the scribes and Pharisees.  I’m sure they were really into this part of the story. 

The Father came out to see why he wouldn’t come in and celebrate, but I guess this was the breaking point of the older son.  He had probably been rehearsing in his mind for a while too what he would say if given the opportunity.  Bitterness can get to you after a while.

 There was a sense in which the older son was obedient, yet far from his father’s heart. In this sense he was a perfect illustration of the religious leaders who were angry that Jesus received tax collectors and sinners. “His story reveals the possibility of living in the father’s house and failing to understand the father’s heart.” (Morgan)

Wow! 

The problem with the older son was that he was lost.  He too needed to come back to his Father.

Verse 31-32 is the father’s response.

  • And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
  • It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Remember earlier we talked about the “life estate” that the Father had in the family farm.  He had dispersed it to his two sons but still had the right to live there.  “All that I have is thine”.  Remember, the younger son had taken his part, now the whole farm technically belonged to the older brother.  The older brother had been “working” the farm all this time.  He felt he had earned the right for his Father to throw him a party.

Isn’t that a picture of working for your salvation.  The younger son realized that he couldn’t handle this world by himself, he still needed his Father.  He came to his senses (realized that he was a sinner) and came back to his Father.  The older brother, of course, felt like he had earned his place with his Father. 

So, what can we learn from this parable?

Repentance?

Compassion?

Forgiveness?

Envy, Jealousy, Bitterness, Anger, Pouting?

Faith saves, not works

Remember that the whole 15th chapter of Luke is Jesus’s response to the Scribes and Pharisees after they were “murmuring” about his receiving sinners and tax collectors.  We should be thrilled every time a soul is saved.  No matter who they are or what the world perceives them to be.

May God help us that we will not have a Pharisaical attitude towards the work of God in receiving sinners, because maybe He is receiving them at some other church in the county rather than here. It doesn’t matter where He receives them. Let us rejoice that He is receiving them. Let us pray that God will send a great spiritual wakening throughout the county in every church. Let us not be so shortsighted and narrow-minded that we are only praying for God’s blessing upon Calvary Chapel, NEW HOPE. But let us begin to really pray that God will revive His church throughout this entire county and that sinners would be brought to Christ, that the Lord might receive sinners anywhere and everywhere, that there might be revival. – Chuck Smith

(I took the liberty to insert NEW HOPE!)

Ok, so, what did the older brother do? I’ll leave you with that question.  Jesus’ story doesn’t tell us.  So let me hear what you think happened?

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