Pray: To open your time together.
Read: Luke 15: 11-32
Consider: Some thoughts for your group
The story we read in Luke 15 is often referred to as the parable of the lost son (that may even be the subtitle written in your bible, though that was added much later), but the crux of the story is less about the prodigal son. The story is about the love of the father.
As often happens with terrific testimonies, our attention can get highjacked by the outlandish behavior of the prodigal son. He does indeed behave horribly, however the centerpiece of the parable is found in verse 20: “So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms round him and kissed him.”
There may not be a clearer picture in the gospels to describe God’s love for us than this encounter. By all rights the father could have rejected, punished, and perhaps even disowned his son. We would not blame the father for harboring resentment and deep emotional pain against his wayward son. Perhaps it is the fact that he would be justified in any anger he held in this relationship that makes his response so scandalous.
Jesus’ love is scandalous. He throws his arms around those who have spit in His face. He runs to the repentant and doesn’t wait for them to come to him and grovel. He restores his sons and daughters to their full humanity and dignity regardless of the journey they have taken to return home. We are never too far gone to be outside of the Father’s love.
Put yourself in the place of the prodigal son. What must it have been like to take that journey home? What would you be thinking as you see your father running toward you upon your return?
What does this story tell you about God?
What is Jesus trying to convey to his audience in this story?
How is this perspective of God different than how you have thought about God? How is it the same?
Have you experienced God’s scandalous love for you? Do you believe He loves you this way?
For Jesus’s cultural context, the actions of the prodigal son would have been enough to be disowned from his family forever. His treatment of his father and his brazen behavior would have been almost unimaginable. Who in our context would be considered “unforgiveable”? Could God’s scandalous love reach even to them… or us?
Spend some time praying for one another. For those who have not experience God’s radical and redemptive love, pray for that to happen today. For those who think of themselves as “too far gone”, pray for them to see with fresh eyes as the father runs toward them.