Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Son is considered by many to be his finest masterpiece. From the Web Gallery of Art, Emil Krén and Daniel Marx write, “Rembrandt's final word is given in his monumental painting of the Return of the Prodigal Son. Here he interprets the Christian idea of mercy with an extraordinary solemnity, as though this were his spiritual testament to the world. It goes beyond the works of all other Baroque artists in the evocation of religious mood and human sympathy. The aged artist's power of realism is not diminished, but increased by psychological insight and spiritual awareness. Expressive lighting and colouring and the magic suggestiveness of his technique, together with a selective simplicity of setting, help us to feel the full impact of the event.”
This coming Sunday, Curtis Brophy will be preaching for us on the subject of the parable of the prodigal son. He has chosen as his text Luke 15:11-32 and the title of his message is “Welcome Home.” Curtis is an applicant for the pastoral position at Lookout Mountain Community Church (LMCC) and the Search Committee from LMCC will be with us to hear him and further consider his candidacy. Be praying for him and LMCC!
In preparation for Sunday’s message read Luke 15:11-32 and use the questions below and a pen or pencil to meditate on this familiar story!
1. To get a sense of the context of the story we will focus on, go back and read verses 1-10. What kind of people were hanging out with Jesus and why did the Pharisees and scribes grumble against Him (vv. 1-2)?
2. Instead of explaining His actions to the Pharisees and scribes, Jesus told two stories. What is the lesson in these two stories (vv. 7, 10)?
• What are the common elements (parts) in both of these stories?
• Jesus talked about “joy in heaven” (v. 7) and “joy before the angels” (v. 10). Who is rejoicing, and why?
• What is repentance and why do you think it is cause for joy in heaven?
• Jesus said that “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (v. 7). Do you think Jesus really meant that there are some people who do not need to repent? If not, what did He mean? (You might read Luke 18:9).
• How do you think Jesus wanted His listeners to respond to His story?
3. Now to our mains story! In verses 11-13 what does Jesus tell us about the younger of the man’s two sons? How would you describe him and what he did? What was his attitude towards his Dad?
4. What happened in this young man’s life (vv. 14-16)?
5. What happened in this young man’s heart and what did he do (vv. 17-20a)?
• What stands out to you about his plan?
6. How would you describe this young man’s father (vv. 20-24)? What did he do and what does that tell you about what he was like?
• What do you think it meant for the father to give to his returning son the best robe, a ring and a pair of shoes (v. 22)?
• Tim Keller suggests that the Father in this story is the real prodigal. Why might he say that? Do you agree?
7. How and why did the father celebrate his younger son’s return (vv. 23-24)?
8. How did the older son respond to the party his father threw for his younger brother (vv. 25-30)? Why do you think he acted that way? What was his attitude towards his Dad?
9. What do we learn about the father as we watch him respond to his older son (vv. 28, 31-32)?
10. How does the story end? Why do you think it ends this way?
11. Jesus told the Pharisees and scribes three stories about something lost. What is common in all of them? Why do you think He told three stories instead of just one?
12. What do you think Jesus wanted His listeners to learn from the three stories?
• And how do you think He wanted them to respond to these stories?
13. How does Jesus want you to respond?
God be with you and see you Sunday!