Welcome back! Let’s lay some groundwork before we dive into the Scripture, shall we? The first thing to recognize is that the Prodigal Son is a parable. Parables tell us something about the Kingdom of God, who Jesus is, and how we can follow Him. So, right off the bat, when we hear or read a parable, we should think, “What can this story tell us about the Kingdom of God, Jesus, or how to follow Him?”
Jesus frequently used parables to teach his followers what it means to know and follow Him. Stories engage our imagination in a way that other kinds of teaching can’t. They guide us to see truths that we might not otherwise notice by allowing us to live vicariously through the characters in the narrative. We can talk about good and evil—or you can have a story line with Jedi and stormtroopers and leave it to the audience to draw conclusions. Does Star Wars start out by saying these guys are bad and these guys are good? Nope! It doesn’t have to. We can easily extrapolate who is who.
The parables are the same way. Those originally listening to them were able to draw certain conclusions by the examples given. Since the bible is living, we can also draw parallels from it for our lives today. That’s the case if you have heard it many, many times or if it’s brand new to you. This is one of the reasons we can still learn lessons from a story as familiar and oft repeated as the Prodigal Son.
So, now knowing that we are dealing with a parable which will tell us about the Kingdom of God in addition to what it’s actually saying, let’s look at some plot basics. I want to focus on two with you: the other parables around the Prodigal Son, and who the story is addressed to.
If you have the time, look over the three parables in Luke 15.
Essentially, the chapter includes 3 rescue missions:
- A shepherd with a lost sheep
- A woman with a last coin
- A father with a lost son
Why does Jesus tell us these stories? What prompted Him?
We find out in the very beginning of the chapter 15. Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors, and the Pharisees were questioning Him. As “religious” as the Pharisees were, they loved to point out supposed sin in others. Sometimes it can feel like they are just waiting for someone to mess up so they can call them out on it. Do you know anyone like that?
Well, that’s what the Pharisees did to Jesus when they saw Him eating with sinners. They questioned Him. Jesus’ response? The three parables we find in Luke 15.
There! We have our context! What we just did, you can do with any biblical text. Also, since you know that parables aren’t quite what they seem at face value, you can go ahead and see if you can figure out what Jesus is saying about the Kingdom of God after reading the parable another time or two.
What does the text reveal about following Him? The original audience would have been able to pick up on this nuance, and it would have rocked their world. See what you can discern before we meet back here again tomorrow to start connecting some dots and find the meaning behind the words, focusing the rest of the week on the younger brother.
All my love,
Did you know I created a worship playlist just for this series?!
Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home!
Previous posts from the Prodigal Series
Miss one? I got you covered! All teachings from this series are found here.