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RECEIVE FORGIVENESS: The Prodigal Son

PARABLES: More Than Just a Story  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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A Wayward Son returns to the forgiving embrace of his father, who welcomes him home. We who have strayed return again and again to the embrace of our Father through the sacrifice of his Son. -- Today, we will look at some other characters in our story and see they relate to the way we treat others on a day-to-day basis.

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PRAYER

Heavenly Father, when you come to greet us in the midst of our sinful selfishness and take us back, we fall to our knees in worship because of your great mercy. Move us apart ever and always from our prodigal ways, so that we are so overwhelmed by your love we cannot help but deliver it to others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

BREAKING THE ICE

Who do you most identify with in our story? Why?
Who do you least identify with? Why?
Who sinned in the story? What were their sins? How do they relate to you?
Who, in this story, do you desire to emulate and be most like? Why?

PSALM/OLD TESTAMENT LESSON:

We hear of King David's angst and heart following when Nathan, the prophet, revealed his sin. In some liturgies we sing a portion of it. As you listen, hear not only David's cry and yours, but know that He has heard your confession and has, indeed, forgiven you all your sins!
(1)Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. (2)Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! (3)For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. (4)Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. (5)Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (6)Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. (7)Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (8)Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. (9)Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. (10)Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (11)Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. (12)Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

DIGGING DEEPER

Who is King David addressing in this Psalm? Why?
Look at verse 4: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” But David sinned against many others here, including Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah; so why does he say that he has sinned only against God?
Verse 5 tells us of the true nature of original sin; that we are conceived and born into it; that it is a part of our very DNA. What are the implication of that?
Look at verse 8: “let the bones that you have broken rejoice.” Who “broke” David? Why is that important?
In verse 10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God,” that word for “create” is the same one used in . What’s the significance?
Verse 11, “Cast me not away from your presence,” gives the very definition of unforgiveness of sins: separation from God. Like a fish meant for water, humans are meant to be in the company of God. What picture of “hell” does that give?
Verse 12, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,” reminds us that, when forgiven, we should and will have great joy! Why do we have a difficult time with that at times; especially with “big” sins? Does God have that issue? What can we learn from that?

GOSPEL LESSON:

We know this story well; the spoiled brat of a second son; the faithful, but judge-y, eldest son; the forgiving father...but there are some other characters in our story from whom we can learn as well.
(11)And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. (12)And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. (13)Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. (14)And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. (15)So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. (16)And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. (17)“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! (18)I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. (19)I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’ (20)And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (21)And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ (22)But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. (23)And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. (24)For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. (25)“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. (26)And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. (27)And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ (28)But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, (29)but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. (30)But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ (31)And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. (32)It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ”

DIGGING DEEPER

This parable comes on the heels of two others:
The Parable of the Lost Sheep -
The Parable of the Lost Coin -
The main lesson in all three is “What was lost is found! what was dead is alive!” - As Jesus uses three parables to get that point across, we would do well to listen!
Verse 12:
How would you have responded to a child who made this kind of request?
If our heavenly Father is tied to this character, does that tell us anything about Him or His nature? (Or, is that reading too much into the meaning and purpose of the parable itself?)
How would you have felt if your child made a request like this?
As children usually inherit after they die, what does that say about the request from the youngest’s wish on the Father?
Ultimately there are two people in this world: those who, in faith humbly submit to God saying, “Thy will be done” and those, who, out of a hardened heart and through no faith God sadly and reluctantly grants, “fine, thy will be done.” He will not force faith in His Son upon anyone. Does that have bearing in this story?
s wish on the Father?
Verse 13: Note that the son goes to a different country; perhaps so he doesn’t have to deal with “pesky” laws and requirements like those in Israel. What might some of those be?
Note that the son goes to a different country; perhaps so he doesn’t have to deal with “pesky” laws and requirements like those in Israel. What might some of those be?
Verse 14:
He didn’t leave anything to live upon. What was his plan for the rest of his life?! How foolish!
Note that he only “began to be in need” once he was (1)out of money AND (2)there was a famine. His lack of funds alone may not have “pushed” him to get a job or realize the severity of his situation because the poor had the right to “glean” uncollected grains from the fields of others. The fact that there was a famine would have meant he couldn’t even get food for “free” and, hence, needed to get a job that paid, regardless of what it was.
Verse 15: About the worst kind of job a Jew could have - one dealing with unclean animals! He certainly wasn’t in Kansas - err, Israel - anymore!
Verse 16:
“he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate” - The lowest point in the youngest son’s life!
“no one gave him anything” - Certainly no one was obliged to give him anything; but there was no compassion shown. Where are all those he lavished money and gifts upon when he was “rich?” Does this share where they hearts were when they were “partying” with him? Did they really care for him at all? Regardless, where was compassion in any of this?The fact that the “employer” treated his pigs better than his employee says a lot about that employer’s character and/or the priorities of that country and culture. This certainly was not the way Israelites were to treat sojourners in their country!
Verse 17: “he came to himself” - FINALLY!! Often, we have to hit our lowest point before we see our situation and its solution clearly as well as the need of a Savior!
Verses 18-19 & 21: Note the difference in what the sons says he will say and what he actually said. There is something mission from the latter. What is the difference? NOTE: Some manuscripts have the “treat me as one of your hired servants” in the second part, so too much emphasis on this should not be given. The purpose, after all, is to share how he who was lost and dead is not found and alive. The rest of the story is there to explain and communicate that truth and point.
Verses 20 & 22-24: What would your reaction have been? Why? Read and see if that sheds some light here.
Verses 24 & 32; These verses are the crux of the parable! - “my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found…your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.AND WE WERE/ARE TOO!! THANK YOU, LORD!!
Verses 25-32:
Most of us feel for the elder son; perhaps because most of us identify with him the most and feel his frustrations. It doesn’t seem “fair.” But if we received “fair,” what would that mean for our forgiveness and salvation?
Does he even care that his brother is ok? Do we? Are we more concerned about “fairness” or “compassion,” especially when the one who receives it was “foolish” or should have “got what’s coming to him?”
Most of us feel for the elder son; perhaps because most of us identify with him the most and feel his frustrations. It doesn’t seem “fair.” But if we received “fair,” what would that mean for our forgiveness and salvation?
Verse 31: “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” - How does that phrase change the conversation? How does it change the reality of what is happening and what is ours in Jesus? This verse is a statement of God’s grace, and we are the recipients! How awesome is that?!

PROVERB: “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

This is not in Scripture, but is a popular proverb. What connection might it have with our lesson today?

SOME “UN-DISCUSSED” CHARACTERS

Those who helped in the squandering of his money
Those who accepted the money being squandered
The one who hired the prodigal son, but wouldn't even give him enough to eat to the level of one of his pigs

TOPIC/WORDS: “Usury, Interest”

HEBREW: נֶשֶׁךְ [neh·SHEK]
usury; interest
GREEK: τόκος [TO-kos]
Throughout the OT, the primary definition for “usury” was “interest.” Any interest, not “exorbitant interest.” This was especially true for fellow Israelites and those who were poor.
dusury; interest
Some of the reason was that monetary gains were not received through any “work.” Other reasons had to do with compassion and those in need. Since God was the provider of all, it was also seen as profiting from what God (not you) had provided.

HISTORY: AAL / LUTHERAN BROTHERHOOD / THRIVENT

LUTHER’S SMALL CATECHISM: The Seventh Commandment & Its Meaning - [God’s Gift of Possessions]

[God’s Gift of Possessions]

YOU SHALL NOT STEAL
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.
What does God forbid in the Seventh Commandment? God forbids every kind of robbery, theft, and dishonest way of getting things.
Psalm 37:21 ESV
The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives;
Ephesians 4:28 ESV
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 ESV
For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.
He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
If a man will not work, he shall not eat.
Exodus 22:25–27 ESV
25 “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him. 26 If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, 27 for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.
Leviticus 25:35–38 ESV
35 “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. 36 Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. 37 You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. 38 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.
Deuteronomy 23:19–20 ESV
19 “You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest. 20 You may charge a foreigner interest, but you may not charge your brother interest, that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.
Proverbs 28:8 ESV
Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit gathers it for him who is generous to the poor.
What does God require of us in the Seventh Commandment?
We should help our neighbor to improve and protect that person’s possessions and income.
Matthew 7:12 ESV
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Philippians 2:4 ESV
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
We should help our neighbor in every need.
Matthew 5:42 ESV
Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
Hebrews 13:16 ESV
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
1 John 3:17 ESV
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Do not forget to do good, and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
Other Passages

PROVERB: “A fool and his money are soon parted”

Matthew 25:26–27 ESV
26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.
Exodus 22:25–27 ESV
“If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him. If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.
Luke 19:21–23 ESV
21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’
Leviticus 25:35–38 ESV
“If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.
Lev. 25:
Deuteronomy 23:19–20 ESV
“You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest. You may charge a foreigner interest, but you may not charge your brother interest, that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.
WRAPPING THINGS UP
Proverbs 28:8 ESV
Whoever multiplies his wealth by interest and profit gathers it for him who is generous to the poor.
Matthew 25:26–27 ESV
But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.
Luke 19:21–23 ESV
for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’
Matthew 25:26–27 ESV
26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.
Luke 19:21–23 ESV
21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’
Luke

WRAPPING THINGS UP

It is not just the younger son who sinned in this parable. We see sins by the eldest (judgement, arrogance), those who were “reckless” with the youngest and were happy to help him spend/take his money, and the one who hired him (lack of compassion &/or possible lack of a living wage).
We are not called to just repent of the “big,” reckless, and foolish things in our lives, but even the day-to-day ways we may not be looking out for others through our interactions, business dealings, personal relationships, and more. In all these sins, we need to “come to ourselves” (), return to our gracious, loving, and forgiving heavenly Father, repent, and receive His mercy!
And when we have received such love and mercy, we will be moved to share and live it for others in our own lives - even those who we might think “deserve it” or “brought it upon themselves.” We have received compassion. We are to show compassion. We have received God’s forgiveness and love. We are to share God’s forgiveness and love.
It’s that simple!
“Thank You, Lord, for receiving us from our selfish, judgmental, reckless, arrogant, and foolish ways. Grant that we show and share that with all those You place in our midst! In Jesus’ name do we pray; amen!”

CONTINUE THE DISCUSSION

How will you be more like the “Forgiving Father” in the parable this week; especially toward those who are being “foolish” or “reckless”?

OTHER NOTES

This will go again to how we "do business" with and treat people; even if it's "legal" and even if they "deserve" the treatment. [Seventh Commandment issues.] 
those who helped in the squandering of his money
those who accepted the money being squandered
the one who hired the prodigal son, but wouldn't even give him enough to eat to the level of one of his pigs
This will go again to how we "do business" with and treat people; even if it's "legal" and even if they "deserve" the treatment. [Seventh Commandment issues.] 
Of course, I'll tie things back to the actions of the Father who forgave his son, noting that our Father forgive us when we do not act generously or with compassion, too.
You shall not steal.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.
What does God forbid in the Seventh Commandment? God forbids every kind of robbery, theft, and dishonest way of getting things.
The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. If a man will not work, he shall not eat.
The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.
He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
If a man will not work, he shall not eat.
What does God require of us in the Seventh Commandment?
What does God require of us in the Seventh Commandment?
We should help our neighbor to improve and protect that person’s possessions and income. In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.We should help our neighbor in every need. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Do not forget to do good, and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
We should help our neighbor to improve and protect that person’s possessions and income.
In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
We should help our neighbor in every need.
Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Do not forget to do good, and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
Of course, I'll tie things back to the actions of the Father who forgave his son, noting that our Father forgive us when we do not act generously or with compassion, too.
Other thoughts or ideas???
What “reckless” and “foolish” sins do you need to repent of and return to God this week?
What sins of “arrogance,” like the eldest son, do you need to repent of this week?
What sins and behaviors which do not show compassion, like the employer, fellow party-ers, etc., do you need to confess and have the behavior change? What can you do this week to help those who are being foolish or reckless?
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