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22: Parables of Joy (Lk 15:1-32)
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22: Parables of Joy (Lk 15:1-32)

I.       The Basics

A.     Setting

Luke opens this passage by introducing the audience: “Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him” (1). The Pharisees and scribes, who despised such “sinners,” criticized Jesus for welcoming such an audience. In response, the Lord spoke three parables that illustrate powerfully the heart of God towards repentant sinners.

B.     Key Verse

            “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (15:10).

            “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (15:20).

C.     Did You Know…?

1.       “Give me the portion of goods that falls to me” (15:12): The father might divide the inheritance (double to the older son; see Dt 21:17 and note on Lk 12:13) but retain the income from it until his death. But to give a younger son his portion of the inheritance upon request was highly unusual.

2.      Feed swine (15:15): The ultimate indignity for a Jew; not only was the work distasteful but pigs were “unclean” animals (Lev 11:7).

II.    Observation

A.     Outline




B.     Key Words/Phrases

III. General Analysis

1a. Compare the three parables. What are the common elements? What are the differences?

1b. Do you notice a progression in the three parables? What do you think is the purpose of such progression?

2. How do the parables describe the extent of the joy at finding the lost?

IV.  Segment Analysis

A.     15:1-7

1a. What was the accusation against Jesus?

1b. How did the three parables given by Jesus answer the accusation?

2. Does the parable of the lost sheep suggest that God favors sinners over the righteous?

3. Have you ever shared the same joy as the shepherd in this parable? What was the occasion?

4. Have you ever been like the lost sheep? How did the Lord find you?

5. How does this parable change the way you view the lost ones?

B.     15:8-10

6. Notice the depiction of the way the woman searched for the lost coin. What can we learn from this depiction?

C.     15:11-32

7a. Why did the younger son want to leave his father’s house?

7b. Have you also wished to “journey to a far country”?

8a. How did the younger son’s experience later turn out to be very different from what he had expected?

8b. Have you also experienced the same wretchedness when you were far from God?

8c. If you are now in the house of God, what makes you want to stay? 

9. What was the prodigal son’s turning point? What does this teach us?

10. Compare “give me” (12) and “make me” (19). What change has taken place in the prodigal son? What does this teach us about our attitude toward God?

11. How has the prodigal son sinned against heaven and before his father?

12a. What do the father’s actions tell us about the father?

12b. What do they teach about our Heavenly Father?

13. How is a sinner “dead” and “lost” (24,32)?

14. How has God also given us the best robe, a ring, sandals, and fatted calf?

15. Who does the older son represent?

16. How do these words show the older son’s mistake?

16a. “Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time.”

16b. “you never gave me a young goat”

16c. “this son of yours”

17. Have you ever made the same mistake as the older son, seeing that new converts seem to get    special favor?

18. Compare the father and the older son. What can we learn here about the difference between God’s heart and man’s heart?

19. How was the prodigal son “found” (32)? What does this teach us about what leads sinners to repentance?

20. What should be the focal point of this story? The prodigal son’s return? The older son’s anger? The compassion of the father? Explain your answer.

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