Running Away From Home


FPC Bethlehem's "Going Deeper with the Sermon" is designed to give you an opportunity to reflect on the sermons, go a the sermon text a little deeper and apply it to following Christ in the real world. FPC Bethlehem's "Going Deeper with the Sermon" is designed to give you an opportunity to reflect on the sermons, go a the sermon text a little deeper and apply it to following Christ in the real world.

GOING DEEPER WITH THE SERMON:
RUNNING AWAY FROM HOME

SPEAKER: Rev. Dr. Marnie Crumpler
DATE: August 20 & 21, 2016
TEXT: Luke 15:11-25

11 And [Jesus] said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And [the father] divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 

19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.                                    

Luke 15:11-24, ESV

Sermon In brief

We seek out all manner of things to satisfy our deepest longings—the perfect job, the perfect spouse, the perfect life. It never works out that way. We want more—more out of the job, more from our spouse, more from ourselves.

More than 1,500 years ago, the early church leader Augustine summed up our need for God: “You [God] have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”
After trying everything else, we come to our senses and see what we really need. We cannot get what we long for until we meet a loving Father who is waiting for us and even runs to meet us.
We can all find ourselves in the story of the Lost Son. Each of us can hear the Father’s invitation once more: come home.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

1.       A parable is a simple story used to communicate spiritual or moral truth in everyday language. In this parable, Jesus is continuing his conversation with the Pharisees and scribes who were grumbling about his association with sinners and tax collectors (15:2). How does this story answer their criticism that Jesus ought not to associate with morally corrupt people?

2.    This parable is described as the story of the prodigal son. It could also be called the story of the waiting father. Consider the character of the father—what does he show us about God’s character?

3.       As the wandering son approaches home, he is preparing a business plan to pitch to his father: “treat me as one of your servants,” “I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (15:19, 21). He tries to approach his father on his own terms. What is the father’s response?

4.       Prodigal simply means “lavish” or “extravagant.” Who is more extravagant in this story: the son who spends wildly or the father who forgives wildly?

5.       A careful reading of the passage reveals that the son never really apologizes or repents. He acknowledges that he is not worthy to be a son, but he doesn’t go beyond that. His father still responds with compassion. How would you respond?

6.       As the son approaches home, he sees a figure running out towards him. It is his father. What does this episode tell you about the father? Was he idly waiting for the son to hit bottom? Did he consider his son as dead to him?

7.       Pause and pray. In light of this story, what is God asking you to do?
 

Prayer

Our Gracious Heavenly Father--
We gather for the purpose of exalting you
and giving you the honor that is your due.

As we approach you in prayer
we do so in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ--
we cling to his perfect life, credited to our account;
his sacrificial death, that put to death our sin;
his resurrection, that points to our own resurrection;
and, his ascension, through which we have been given the gift of your Spirit to aid us in our weakness,
to convict us of our sin, to empower us for ministry.

Each of us has tried so hard, so many times
to run from you and to worship ourselves.
Yet, for those of us who are in Christ Jesus
we have found that there is no where we may go
that you are not already there ahead of us.

If we try to ascend to the heavens, you are there.
If we make our bed in the depths, you are there.
If we rise with the dawn, or settle on the far side of the seas--already, you are there and you will guide us and direct us.

No place is so dark that it can overwhelm your light.
No light is so bright that your light is not brighter still.
Darkness is as light to you, and lightness is as the dark.

We praise you that you have not left us alone, to our own devices.
We praise you that you stand willing to rescue us from sin and death.
We praise you that your love and grace are irresistible.
 

Accept now, O Lord, the praises of your people. Through Christ we pray.

Amen.
 

(Adapted from Psalm 139)