The next four studies will focus on the 4 R's of Discipleship, a series of Bible studies I wrote for small groups. The 4 R's: Reconciliation/Restoration, Relationships, Renewal, Response. This is not an in-depth study series, but it is meant to encourage wrestling with the text and the issues raised, and then examine our current life in light of that.
While this is the Bible study material, I also meet with the small group leaders in the week prior to each Bible study to go over the material. In that meeting I challenge to the leaders to investigate the text and context. For instance, in this study of Luke 15, I have them back up to Luke 15:1-2 to understand the greater context of the parable. And then we read and study Luke 15:3-10 to see how those parables relate to the current one.
Luke 15:11-32 (HCSB)
11 He also said: "A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.' So he distributed the assets to them.
13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living. 14 After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing.
15 Then he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to eat his fill from the carob pods the pigs were eating, and no one would give him any.
What attitude is shown by the younger son? (v. 12, 13)
What is the parallel in vv. 12 and 16?
What does that show about the younger son?
Do I sometimes struggle with this same attitude?
17 But when he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired hands have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I'll get up, go to my father, and say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I'm no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands." '
20 So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.
What change takes place in vv. 17-19?
How does he imagine his reception (vv. 18-19)?
How does the Father respond?
21 The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I'm no longer worthy to be called your son.' 22 "But the father told his slaves, 'Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Then bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let's celebrate with a feast, 24 because this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!' So they began to celebrate.
What is the Father’s response?
What does he give the younger son (v. 24)?
If I had been the parent how would I have responded?
25 "Now his older son was in the field; as he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he summoned one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 'Your brother is here,' he told him, 'and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'
28 "Then he became angry and didn't want to go in. So his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 But he replied to his father, 'Look, I have been slaving many years for you, and I have never disobeyed your orders; yet you never gave me a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your assets with prostitutes, you slaughtered the fattened calf for him.'
How does the older son respond?
Would you have felt the same way? Why?
There is a key concerning both sons’ condition. What is it (vv. 12, 29)?
31 "'Son,' he said to him, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'"
What does he invite the older son to do?
Reconciliation: Fact or process? What is the main point Jesus is addressing?
Attitude: Am I the younger son or the older son?
Purpose: How does that affect me today?
What gets in the way of reconciliation?
How do I handle someone who seems to get all this “free”?
What does 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 say to us (me) about our life together at this church?