READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l This parable of the Prodigal Son tells us much about the father heart of God and what HIS fatherhood means.
It was told because of an accusation by the Pharisees and scribes. They grumbled that Jesus welcomed and ate with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus did not conform to the strict societal Jewish expectations of a Rabbi.
This story would have been astounding because of the audacity of a son who wanted his inheritance early. This would have involved splitting the estate and selling land which would have been shameful and public. Asking for inheritance early implies wishing the early death of one’s own father.
The story continues to relate how all this wealth was squandered quickly leaving the son destitute and defiled from tending pigs.
The son decides to return although no reputable family would take him back. However, the father shamefully runs to his son and kisses him, welcomes and forgives him. The father foregone his dignity and grant total forgiveness and acceptance. Doubtless neighbours would disapprove of this prodigal love!
The older brother displays this same attitude of disapproval and rebukes his father angrily, refusing to attend the celebration. This disrespectful rebellion on the part of the older brother is also unacceptable in Jewish society.
Jesus wanted to teach us that we are ALL prodigally rebellious children. Both brothers hated the way the Father’s authority and wanted their own ways. They were prepared to rebel against the father and sacrifice their relationships. We too are like this and often relate to our own close family with self-righteousness.
However, just as we are all prodigally rebellious, Jesus was illustrating that we also have a prodigally loving Father. God does not look at our achievements, status or social standing. He doesn’t look upon us in terms of ‘good’ citizens and ‘bad’ crooks. He values our relationship, repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration more than anything. We ALL matter and are ALL invited to respond and embrace the prodigal love of our prodigal Father. Timothy Keller once said, “There is no evil that the father’s love cannot pardon and cover, there is no sin that is a match for his grace.”
The main star of this parable is the Father! This is who we have in God our Father and the love we have through Him. This is how a Father’s love should be!
(Sermon notes by Frances Lim)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- Share what thoughts comes to mind when you think about the word “Father”?
- Read Luke 15. Share some of the thoughts you have about the sons and the father? What would you have done if (hypothetically) you were the father and why? What is more important to you? What do you think is more important for the father?
- The 2 sons describe two human conditions of us – rebelliousness and stubbornness. Both have exhibited these behaviours of wilful disobedience but in different ways. We either disobey or obey to get what we want – but don’t actually love the father. In what ways are we similar to BOTH of them? Which one do you identify more with?
- Share how the actions of the father dealt with rebelliousness and stubbornness? Does it work? Would it work for you? What do you think is more important for the father? How has the father prioritised love and relationship over other matters? What can we learn about the love of our heavenly father?
- On this side of heaven – There is no perfect father except God our Father. Only God is that perfect father that loves perfectly. We can only see ourselves plagued by our own sin of rebelliousness and stubbornness as we become spiritual parents, yet we are also recipients of God’s prodigal (lavish & reckless) love. What character attributes can we pray for all parents (especially fathers) today?