Family Bible Study lesson for May 13: Finding Forgiveness
April 27 2001 by Catherine Painter , Luke 15:11-32

Family Bible Study lesson for May 13: Finding Forgiveness | Friday, April 27, 2001

Friday, April 27, 2001

Family Bible Study lesson for May 13: Finding Forgiveness

By Catherine Painter Luke 15:11-32 He interrupted my teaching. "That's not fair! The older brother does everything right; the prodigal gets rewarded!"

"The cross is for sinners," I said, seeing his blood pressure rising. After class he waited.

"You don't understand," he said. "I married, then lived with my wife. My brother lives with his girl, brings her home, demands the respect we show my wife, and my parents seemingly love him more than me!"

"He needs their love more," I said; then asked, "Haven't you ever done anything wrong?"

He confessed he had.

"Then stop role-playing the older brother. Be the prodigal - you'll get the robe and ring!" I also suggested he love his brother and his girl.

"I can't!"

"Then ask God to love them through you."

He promised.

Jesus' parable remains universal, for who has not traveled in his own far country? "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it" (Jam.2:10). Right, wrong, good, bad - all must repent to be saved, and a loving God responds, not to our deserving, but according to our need.

Rebellion (Luke 15:11-13) How does the son get lost? By determining to wreck his life and wound his father? No, by wanting to direct his own life.

"The inheritance has my name on it; I want it now." And the wise father, knowing the road ahead, allows him to go. God never forces us to come to Him, or to remain in His will.

Ruin (Luke 15:14-16) We watch him enter the amusement park called the "far country" and, knowing it to be a freak show, cry, "Turn back!"

"I can't! The lights dazzle me; I can't see the road home. The noise deafens me; I can't hear my father's voice."

Wandering in sin, his wealth squandered, his wrong direction leads to the wrong destination - a pig trough - the ultimate insult to a Jew.

Destitute, he hires himself to a man who "sent him to his fields to feed pigs" (v.15b). Sent? That's not the freedom he sought! But sin has its price, lowering the moral temperature, then weakening the will. Helpless, "no one gives him anything" (v.16b).

Repentance (Luke 15:17-20a) But he remembers who he is and his home where even "hired men have food to spare" (v.l7a). Now a cry sobs its way through the centuries: "I am starving to death" (v.l7a). "I will ... go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned ..." (v.l8a).

How refreshing to hear genuine repentance! So often we worm our way out of situations with the mechanical "I'm sorry," our tone denying our words.

The son's "I'm starving" reveals a spiritual emptiness our nation must share, as hunger looks out from eyes of cultured and uncultured - eyes of those desperately contenting themselves with diets of moral and spiritual "pods.''

The son turns toward home, poor in purse, rich in resolve. Instead of "Give me," he will pray, "Make me" (v.l9b).

But longing is never enough. "If wishes were horses, all beggars would ride." If heaven were good intentions, the highway to God would be crowded. The prodigal puts feet on his prayers, believing he can, as a hired servant, earn his restoration.

Reception (Luke 15:20b-24) Works can't save, however; only God's forgiveness can (Eph.2:8-9). While the son is far off, the father sees him and with compassion runs to meet him, embracing and kissing him (v.20b). Interrupting the son's rehearsed speech, the father offers all he left home seeking.

No doubt the son had pictured himself in the far country dressed in fine clothes and jewelry. The father sends for the best robe, ring and shoes.

He dreamed of ordering from the menus of top restaurants. It's at home they kill the fatted calf. Even the pleasure he sought is present in the partying, dancing and merriment (vss.22-24).

Resentment (Luke 15:25-32) But all do not join the celebration. The older brother is in a far country of bitter resentment, sulking because the lost has been found and restored.

The "older brother" of my story was different. He did rejoice when his brother, at my invitation, brought his girl to our Bible study. He rejoiced when they married - love and acceptance won. And great was the victory as the older brother enjoyed wearing his new clothes, ring and shoes!

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4/27/2001 12:00:00 AM by Catherine Painter , Luke 15:11-32 | with 0 comments
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