The Loving Father
Goals for this Week’s Study:
- Review Sunday Morning’s Message.
- Help group members see from the perspective of the loving father in the parable of the Prodigal Son.
- Congratulate everyone for taking the next step of joining or continuing with a group. Encourage those joining a group for the first time to stick with it and build new relationships.
Open your group with prayer.
DISCUSS: Have you ever had an embarrassing moment? Share about a time when you were embarrassed unexpectantly.
Luke 15: 11 – 32
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[b]’
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
- Have you ever been put into a situation where you have been hurt (father) and the other person was completely in the wrong (son)?
- How did you respond? Or, how do you think you would respond (don’t just give the “church” answer)?
- What did the Father’s response show his son? [forgiveness]
- Robe – Reinstated his honor.
- Signet Ring – Reinstated his authority and place in the family.
- Sandals – Reinstated his freedom.
- Do you ever struggle with God’s forgiveness of your sin? How does God do it?
- He assumes the BEST is us,
- He cheers us on, and
- He is waiting on us to come home!
- What triggered the Father’s forgiveness? [The action of the son…look at verses 18 – 20]
- He changed his mind (v18)
- He came home (v20)
These 2 actions represent true repentance – A change of mind that leads to a change of heart which leads to a change of action!
- The Father had every right to be angry, to withhold forgiveness, and even to send his son away, but he CHOSE to love, forgive, and restore!
- Not only that, but he RAN to his son. He did everything, even disgraced himself (death on a cross) to be in a right relationship with us!
- Lastly, He celebrates every time a son or daughter comes home. PARTY TIME!!
CHALLENGE: Bring everyone you know that needs to “come home” to church with you next week!
PRAY with your group.