Summary: Reflections on the story of the Prodigal Son - for a Family Service service
The Prodigal Son -Lk 15:11-32
The key to understanding this story can be found in the opening verses of Luke 15.
Let me read them to you:
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such despicable people – even eating with them.
Jesus told this story because people complained who he spent time with.
Question: Why do you think the Jews didn’t like tax collectors?
Answer: 1. Because they helped the hated Romans collecting taxes – and so were seen as traitors or collaborators with the enemy.
2. Because they took more taxes than they should of – to make themselves rich.
The other notorious sinners would be people who were
i) immoral – like prostitutes and
ii) those who had jobs that the religious Jew considered “unclean”. Like people who sold pork to the Greeks and Romans living in Israel at the time.
The reason Jesus came to this earth was to tell people that God loves them regardless of who they are. And God wants to be their friend if they are willing to give up being bad.
So he told the story of the Prodigal Son to show what God’s love is for all of us.
Question: We call this story the story of the Prodigal Son, but do you know what Prodigal means.
Answer: Someone who wastes things unnecessarily like money and talents. The Oxford Illustrated Dictionary (2nd Edition) says: “Recklessly wasteful”
In this story,the Father had two sons.
Question: What was the older son like?
Answer: He was a good son, who did everything his father wanted him to do. He was sensible with money and looked after the family farm
Question: What was the younger son like?
Answer: He was selfish – he wanted the money that he would have got when his father died - NOW.
So he asked his father to let him have his money.
Question: When he got his share of the money, what did he do with it?
Answer: He went and wasted it on reckless living.
He didn’t save but just spent and spent and spent until he had nothing left.
Question: What did his friends do when his money ran out. Did they help him?
Answer: No. - No money – they did not want to know him.
Question: Were they real friends?
Answer: No, because real friends stick by you when things don’t go well. When you are sad, when things aren’t going well, they stick with you.
Question: So what did the younger son do when the money ran out?
Answer: He went and looked for a job.
Question: And did he find a job?
Answer: Yes,but the only job he could find was feeding pigs.
Did you know that feeding pigs was a real dirty job to the Jew – because the Jews considered pigs unclean.
A good religious Jew would never touch pig – pork let alone eat it.
Question: Can you think of a job today that would have had the same effect on us today as feeding pigs did on the Jews in Jesus’day?
Answer: To me it would be like having to clean public toilets out in India. I was in Mysore in India once and I can tell you they are awful.
I think the most important part of the story comes when Jesus said about the younger son:
“When he finally came to his senses”
Why did he need to come to his senses?
Here he was eating pig food and his father’s servants ate better than he did.
So he decided that he should take a chance and go home.
Question: What did he decide to do when he came home
Answer: To say sorry to his Dad.
He said to himself: “I will go home to my Father and say “Father, I have sinned against heaven and you and am no longer worthy of being called your son.. Please take me on as a hired hand.”
Question: So did the Father take him on as a hired hand?
Question: What did the Father say?
Answer: Of course you can come home.
But not as a servant but as my son.
Question: Why not as a servant
Answer: Because the Father loved him as a Son.
The Father said: I love you and will forgive you.
Let’s go and kill the calf we have been fattening up in the pen and have a feast to celebrate your homecoming.
Question: Was everyone in the family happy about this?
Answer: The older brother was angry. He said to his father:
All these years I have worked very hard for you and you never gave me even a goat for a feast with my friends.