Every week you’ll find different types of posts here on the ABS blog. Today’s post is for teachers, to encourage conversation and reflection in your Bible study group. Each “Let’s Talk About” activity can be used at any time during your meeting and lasts approximately 10-15 minutes.
Today, let's talk about...
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.
25 “Now his older son was in the field. Coming in from the field, he approached the house and heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the servants and asked what was going on. 27 The servant replied, ‘Your brother has arrived, and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he received his son back safe and sound.’ 28 Then the older son was furious and didn’t want to enter in, but his father came out and begged him. 29 He answered his father, ‘Look, I’ve served you all these years, and I never disobeyed your instruction. Yet you’ve never given me as much as a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours returned, after gobbling up your estate on prostitutes, you slaughtered the fattened calf for him.’ 31 Then his father said, ‘Son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive. He was lost and is found.’”
Then his father said, “Son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive. He was lost and is found.” —Luke 15:31-32
Certain religious leaders criticized Jesus for spending so much time with sinners. Jesus explained that these “lost” people were the ones who needed him the most. He told a series of parables about God seeking the lost, culminating in this story of a father and his two sons. One son fled home and squandered his portion of the father’s inheritance while his father was still living. Yet, when he returned home in shame, his father welcomed him and celebrated his arrival. The other son, who had remained loyal to his father, was resentful of the welcome and celebration. This parable teaches that God, like the father in the story, values forgiveness and unconditional love, even if it means embracing a family member who has betrayed our trust.
Questions to Discuss:
What is most difficult about showing love and forgiveness to family members who have hurt us?
Can we show love and forgiveness without excusing the hurtful things that someone has done? If so, how?