Luke 15, The Prodigal Son=Gifted!
Bible Background: Luke is the only place where Jesus tells this story. A better title might be “The Waiting Father”, since this father waits in love for both of his sons to come back to him. Jesus is showing us what God is like!
Digging Deeper: 1. We presume that both sons begin life blessed: Father has a farm, hired hands, and an inheritance to distribute. The younger son’s yearning for independence, and his dad’s consent to that might even be a gift (though it doesn’t go well!).
2. Though the younger son squanders his opportunity and dad’s money, the gift of relationship lingers in his mind: “Maybe I could go back and just be a hired hand with food to eat and a place to sleep.” He also has enough honesty to admit he has sinned against his dad and God. How is self-searching honesty a gift? (as opposed to denial?)
3. The biggest gift the father has for his sons is this undeserved and persistent love he shows them. Father runs to embrace his son! He celebrates this wayward child! A ring, the best robe, and sandals for his feet are signs of belonging. Dad will not receive this son back as a slave. Dad restores him to his place in the family. When have you experienced persistent love and how has that impacted your life? When have you shown that kind of love and how has that impacted your life?
4. The older son is gifted too! But his attitude doesn’t show it. The farm will be his. He has had a loving dad; a place to belong; work to do. And he is profoundly upset at his brother and at his dad! (Does the term “self-righteous” ring a bell here?) He is as disrespectful to his dad as his brother was at the start of the story! And still, this father expresses patient love for this wayward son too!
5. You might think that this dad is a fool to allow himself to be taken advantage of like this. Parents can choose to do this if they want, right? What other gift does dad’s response offer? There’s wisdom in his understanding of the wider picture: A child who is alive-when he could have been dead; who comes back home-when he could have been separated from the family forever; is worth celebrating! A new opportunity to BE family, is worth breaking some of the ‘rules’ for.
6. As we ponder the theme “Gifted and Grateful”, what thoughts does this story stir up? Can love and forgiveness be spread this generously? How precious is life? Our relationships? Our sense of belonging? Who in this story do you relate to?