Teacher Notes

Bible Stories for Adults

The Forgiving Father

Luke 15:11-32

Welcome and Announcements
    Next Week - The Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35)
    Bible Words to Remember:
      If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9

Opening Prayer

    What is a parable? = Get feedback from the class and write on a board
      Jerome - "A shadow of truth cast before"
    Sounds like a pleasant yarn, but keeps something up its sleeve which pops up & leaves you flat
    Funk & Wagnalls = A short narrative making a religious point by comparison with natural things
      A "true-to-life" story used to make clear a heavenly meaning
    What a parable is not:
      Proverb (Proverbs 22:6) = A wise saying, does not include a story
      Simile (Psalm 1:3-4) = One object is like another, simple resemblance
      Metaphor (John 6:35) = One object is another, direct representation
      Allegory (John 15:1-8) = One object implies another, interpret themselves
      Fable (Judges 9:8-15) = Story leading to moral lesson, animals often get human qualities

    Read an example of a short parable that sounds like a fable:
      Matthew 21:28-31a = One son refuses work but does it, other accepts but doesn't
    What truth pops up and knocks flat the self-righteous elders whom Jesus was addressing?
      Matthew 21:31b-32 = Claiming to have faith is nothing like having faith

    Parables must always be interpreted in the context of the lesson Jesus was trying to teach

    Parabole = Greek for a placing side-by-side - analogy, similarity
      Used only in Matthew (17), Mark (13), Luke (18) & Hebrews (2)
        Hebrews uses for symbolic (9:9) and figuratively (11:19)
    John uses paroimia = Greek for proverb, wise saying

    Mashal = Hebrew for parable, proverb, similarity
      Translated in Septuagint as parabole
      Not used in Old Testament for fables (2K 14:9), riddles (Jdg 14:14), stories, etc.
      Used as concept describing wisdom or revelation

    Meshalim = Hebrew title of Book of Proverbs
      Septuagint translated as Paroimiai
      Translated to Latin in the Vulgate by Jerome as Parabolai

Jesus' Parables (Matthew 13)
    What did David foretell about the Messiah's manner of speaking?
      Psalm 78:1-2 = I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things
    How was this prophesy fulfilled by Jesus?
      Matthew 13:34-35 = ... He did not say anything to them without using a parable
    Why did Jesus speak in parables?
      Matthew 13:10-12 = Make messages more visible to followers & invisible to others

    Were all of Jesus' parables stories?
      Mark 4:30-32 = Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed
    Were all of Jesus' stories parables? = Don't read, just refer to
      Luke 10:25-37 = Good Samaritan story, some say it is only illustrative, not a parable
    Between 25 and 79 of Jesus' parables are recorded in the Bible
      Depends on the definition used for parable

    What was Jesus' most common topic for comparison in a parable?
      Matthew 13:44 = The kingdom of heaven is like ... valuable treasure
    Were all of Jesus' parables descriptive of God or did some describe sinful man?
      Luke 18:9-13 = Pharisee & tax collector parable given to confront self-righteousness
    Did any parables teach us how to live as God's people?
      Luke 18:1 = Parable to teach that we show always pray without giving up

    Did Jesus' followers immediately understand His parables?
      Matthew 13:36 = Disciples asked for explanation after they left the crowd
    Did Jesus explain all of His parables, or were His disciples left to figure some out on their own?
      Mark 4:33-34 = He explained everything
    Why were those who didn't follow Jesus unable to understand His parables?
      Matthew 13:13-15 = Fulfill Isaiah's prophesy that hearts, eyes & ears are closed
    Did any of Jesus' parables hit home with those outside of His followers?
      Matthew 21:45 = Chief priests & Pharisees knew He was talking about them

Who Were the Pharisees? (Matthew 23)
    Why had the people of Judah been exiled to Babylon?
      Nehemiah 9:29-30 = They continued to turn their backs on God and ignored His laws
    What did the returned exiles do to show their commitment to God's law?
      Nehemiah 9:38; 10:29 = Made a binding agreement to be obedient
    What sect evolved that worked to make sure people didn't disobey the law, even accidentally?
      Acts 26:5 = Pharisees, Even had 39 volumes detailing what it meant to work on the Sabbath

    How did Jesus respond to the Pharisees' complaint that He didn't follow their rules?
      Mark 7:5-8 = They have traded God's commands for traditions of men
    What did Jesus say about the Pharisees' efforts to get people to heaven?
      Matthew 23:4, 13 = You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces
    How did Jesus graphically point out how the Pharisees' detailed rules missed the main purpose?
      Matthew 23:24 = You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel
    For Home Study: Read Matthew 23 for further understanding of how Pharisees were misdirected

The Lost (Luke 15:1-7)
    What major Pharisee rule did Jesus break that led to the parables in Luke 15?
      Luke 15:1-2 = This man welcomes sinners & eats with them (meals built fellowship)
    Why was this so bad in the eyes of the Pharisees?
      Psalm 1:1 = Pharisees taught that God hates sinners, avoids them, & enjoys their demise
    What had the Pharisees missed about God's relationship with sinners?
      Ezekiel 18:23 = God is pleased when the wicked repent, not when they die

    How did Jesus reply to the Pharisees' rebuke of His association with sinners?
      Luke 15:3-6 = Told parable about leaving 99 sheep to find the lost one
    What does a lost sheep have to do with a sinner?
      Luke 15:7 = God wants sinners to return like a shepherd wants a lost sheep to return
    Would a studied Pharisee recognize this connection?
      Ezekiel 34:11-12 = I myself will search for my sheep

The Search (Luke 15:8-10)
    Did Jesus feel that the one parable was enough to get the Pharisees to understand?
      Luke 15:8-9 = No, He tells another parable about searching for a lost coin
    NOTES: It would take months for a Palestinian woman to save ten drachmas
      The coins were most likely her dowry and were worn on a string as a necklace
      How intently would she look and how much would she rejoice upon finding it?
    What does searching for a lost coin have to do with searching for lost sinners?
      Luke 15:10 = The search is as intent and the rejoicing is as great

The Lost Son (Luke 15:11-19)
    Were these two parables enough for the Pharisees to see God's desire to restore the lost sinner?
      Luke 15:11-12 = No, Jesus went on with another parable
    What did the younger son get as his share of the estate?
      Deuteronomy 21:17 = One third of everything (Oldest got double share)
    How responsible was the son with his inheritance?
      Luke 15:13-14 = He squandered everything in wild living
    How responsible had Israel been with her inheritance?
      Jeremiah 16:18 = They despised & defiled it with idols, etc.

    How bad did the son's situation become after he ran out of money?
      Luke 15:15-16 = Resorted to feeding pigs & longing to eat their fodder (carob pods)
    Why was this considered by Jews to be the lowest depth to which he could sink?
      Leviticus 11:7-8 = The pig was very unclean, not even to be touched
    How bad did Israel's situation become after her rebellious living?
      Lamentations 1:18 = I rebelled against His command ... have gone into exile

    What did the son decide after coming to his senses?
      Luke 15:17-19 = Return to his father, confess his sin, ask to be a servant
    What did Israel decide after coming to her senses?
      Lamentations 3:40-42; 5:21 = Return to the Father, confess sins, ask to be restored

The Forgiving Father (Luke 15:20-24)
    How was the son received after returning from squandering a third of his father's estate?
      Luke 15:20 = With great love for a missed one; Father ran as fast as he could
    What kind of reception can we expect after returning from squandering what our Father gives us?
      Romans 8:38-39 = Nothing can separate us from the unmatched love of God

    Did the father accept the son's application for employment? = (Servants didn't wear sandals)
      Luke 15:21-22 = No, restored to full sonship (Robe - birthright, signet ring - authority)
    Was the father thinking of ways for the son to repay his evil?
      Luke 15:23-24 = No, he gave immediate & full forgiveness & celebrated return
    Does God, our Father, have ways for us to repay our evil?
      Micah 7:18-19 = No, he gives immediate & full forgiveness & delights in mercy
      Isaiah 43:25; 44:22; 55:7 = God throws away our sins & calls for our return

The Faithful Son (Luke 15:25-32)
    How did the faithful and reliable older brother feel about the return of his brother?
      Luke 15:25-30 = Jealous of undeserved love given to this son of yours
    Did the early Christians better understand God's grace and mercy to the penitent?
      Acts 11:1-3 = No, they criticized Peter for associating with Gentiles
    How did they respond when they learned that God had sent His Spirit to the Gentiles?
      Acts 11:17-18 = They praised God for His forgiveness & mercy to all people

    If those who stray are freely taken back, isn't it unfair for those who remain faithful?
      Luke 15:31 = The faithful are blessed with God's presence & blessings
    How does the father in the parable summarize Jesus' key point of Luke 15?
      Luke 15:32 = God celebrates and is glad when a lost & dead son is found & alive
    Why didn't Jesus complete the story with how the elder brother responded?
      Matthew 12:30 = It was up to the Pharisees to determine how they would respond

Closing Prayer

Copyright © 1997 by Kurt Rosenhagen

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