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Lesson 3: Parables

There is nothing hidden that will not be exposed, nothing concealed that will not be known and brought to light. Take care, therefore, how you listen: to those who have, more will be given; those without will lose even the little bit they thought they had.

– Luke 8:17-18 (TIB)

Devotion: Read Luke 15:1-32. Jesus tells three “lost and found” parables in response to Pharisees and scribes grumbling over his association with those they label “sinners.” In all three stories, the person who is searching not only rejoices but celebrates with her or his friends. What is Jesus communicating to the religious leaders through these parables? What motivates the shepherd, woman, and father to keep searching? What do we need to learn about searching from these stories? How does the Church search for people? What do we need to learn about celebrating from these stories? When we do rejoice together, what do congregations celebrate?

Personal Worship Option: Read Romans 8:26-27. Spend time in prayer, envisioning God as the Spirit who is praying for you right now. How might that image change your prayer and attitude?

Dig A Little Deeper:

When was the last time you were the person who needed to repent? When was the last time you stood in the crowd that was labeled “tax collectors and sinners?”

How do we go looking for lost sheep today? Do we get more excited about the one sheep which is found or the ninety-nine in the fold?

In Matthew, Jesus uses the lost sheep parable to instruct the disciples on how to be pastors in the church (Mt 18:12-14). Does this change how you read the parable?

It is rare to see a woman as the central character in a story in the ancient world. What do you think Jesus is communicating by making it a woman who searches for the lost coin?

When the younger son asks for his share of inheritance, what message does the father hear? When would the son usually receive his inheritance? When have you been the younger son?

How does the younger son’s attitude compare to Luke 12:13-21?

If feeding a Gentile’s pigs is the lowest of lows for a Jew, what is a comparable state in your life?

What happens when someone “comes to himself” (15:17)? What motivates the younger son? What is the relationship between physical need and spiritual hunger?

What message is communicated by the Father interrupting his son’s confession?

What message does the older brother send to his father with his words? With his actions? When have you been the older brother?

What does it mean to be “dead” or “alive” in this context (15:32)?

What do these three parables suggest about the mercy of God?

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