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Luke 15:11-24

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 11, 2016


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular:  2900 words    Communion: 2500 words  Video=75wpm

Baptism next week.  Should you get baptized? Some folks are quite excited about getting baptized…

Video:  Kid baptizing himself.

Servant School – open to all. Lots of opportunities to grow.

Chris Tomlin video concert Tuesday, Oct. 25, aimed at getting America to pray for our upcoming election.  Tickets are $7 + $1 processing fee ($5 cheaper than the theaters), and you have to buy them online – links on FaceBook and our Webpage.  Hurry before the rest of the world finds out about our hosting it.

Luke was a doctor and a traveling companion of the apostle Paul.

He wrote this book while Paul was in prison.

In writing this book about Jesus, Luke made use of other older documents like the Gospel of Mark, as well as extensive eyewitness accounts.

Jesus’ ministry is well under way, and the people have been amazed not just at the things He’s been teaching, but the things He’s been doing.

The crowds around Jesus were growing. 

The religious leaders were quite upset that Jesus was spending so much time with “sinners”.

Jesus responded by telling a series of parables, intended to show the heart of God towards lost people…

He told of a shepherd leaving the ninety-nine to find the one lost sheep.

He told of a woman frantically searching her house for a lost coin.

Then He gets to the best story of all…

15:11-24 The First Prodigal

:11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons.

hadecho – to have, i.e. to hold

Imperfect tense

:12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.

:12 the younger of them

youngerneos – recently born, young, youthful

Comparative – not “young” but “younger”

The story is going to be about these two brothers, though the first part of the story focuses on the younger of the brothers.

He's the one we often call the “prodigal son”.

:12 give me the portion …

The son doesn’t want to stay around for his father to die, he wants his inheritance now.

It’s as if the son is saying to his father’s face: “I wish you were dead!” 

Does that sound to you cruel for the son to say this?  It did in ancient times.

givedidomi – to give; the verb is an imperative, a command the son has given to the father.

Aorist imperative

that fallsepiballo – to cast upon, to lay upon; it belongs to me, falls to my share

portionmeros – a part; a part due or assigned to one

:12 he divided to them his livelihood

he divideddiaireo – to divide into parts, to part, to tear, cleave or cut asunder; to distribute

livelihoodbios – life; that by which life is sustained, resources, wealth, goods

According to Jewish Law (Deut. 21:17), the firstborn (or elder) son would receive a double portion.  Since there are only two sons in the story, the younger son would have received 1/3 of the father’s wealth.  The older brother would be receiving 2/3 of the father’s wealth.

(Deuteronomy 21:17 NKJV) But he shall acknowledge the son of the unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.

:13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.

:13 the younger son gathered all together

gatheredsunago – to gather together, to gather; to draw together, collect; to bring together, assemble, collect

journeyedapodemeo (“from” + “the people”) – to go away into foreign parts, go abroad

countrychora – the space lying between two places or limits; a region or country i.e. a tract of land

farmakros – long; of place: remote, distant, far off

The younger son takes all of his inheritance, bundles it up and heads off to travel the world.

It might be that he planned on getting out of town all along, but it might also be that the folks back at home were disgusted with his desire to see his father dead.

:13 journeyed to a far country


A man scolded his son for being so unruly and the child rebelled against his father. He got some of his clothes, his teddy bear and his piggy bank and proudly announced, “I’m running away from home!” The father calmly decided to look at the matter logically. “What if you get hungry?” he asked. “Then I’ll come home and eat!” bravely declared the child. “And what if you run out of money?” “I will come home and get some!” readily replied the child. The man then made a final attempt, “What if your clothes get dirty?” “Then I’ll come home and let mommy wash them,” was the reply. The man shook his head and exclaimed, “This kid is not running away from home; he’s going off to college.”

Jesus isn’t talking about a little boy running away from home … or going off to college.  He’s talking about something far more serious.

I wonder if Jesus was thinking of the son running to a place like Beit She’an when He told the story.

In Jesus’ day, it was a center for Greek and Roman culture, offering the best of what the world had to offer.
A place for loose living.


Letting go

It’s very hard when someone you love starts down a path away from God.
It’s particularly hard when the path they are on is self-destructive.
It’s a good thing to try and reach out and help the other person.
(Galatians 6:1 NKJV) Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
But sometimes the other person simply doesn’t want help, and you may need to let them go.
Some people won’t learn what they need to learn until their life is in ruins.
The truth is some may never learn.
Some people have a mistaken notion about God.
They think that if God doesn’t want them doing their little sin, that God would do something to stop them.
When you continually fight against Him, God may choose to simply let you go in order for you to learn the hard way.
He won’t stop loving you, but He may let you go.

:13 wasted his possessions with prodigal living

wasted diaskorpizo – to scatter abroad, disperse, to winnow; to throw the grain a considerable distance, or up into the air, that it may be separated from the chaff

It’s a picture of the guy taking wads of money and throwing it all up in the air to be carried off by the wind.

possessions ousia – what one has, i.e. property, possessions, estate

livingzao – to live, breathe, be among the living (not lifeless, not dead); to enjoy real life; to live i.e. pass life, in the manner of the living and acting

prodigal asotos – reckless and extravagant expenditure, chiefly for the gratification of one’s sensual desires.

We find out later in the story (Luke 15:30), that he probably spent his money on prostitutes.

(Luke 15:30 NKJV) —30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

:14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.

he had spentdapanao – to incur expense, expend, spend; in a bad sense: to waste, squander, consume

faminelimos – scarcity of harvest, famine

severeischuros – strong, mighty; strong, violent, forcibly uttered, firm, sure

to be in wanthustereo – behind; to come late or too tardily; to fail, be wanting; to be in want of, lack; to suffer want, to be devoid of, to lack (be inferior) in excellence, worth

:15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

:15 joined himself to a citizen

He got a job feeding pigs.

This doesn’t sound like the best job for a Jewish boy.

joined himselfkollao – to glue, to glue together, cement, fasten together; to join or fasten firmly together; to join one’s self to, cleave to

citizenpolites – a citizen

countrychora – the space lying between two places or limits; a region or country i.e. a tract of land

fieldsagros – land; the field, the country; a piece of land, bit of tillage

to feedbosko – to feed

swinechoiros – a swine

:16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

:16 the pods that the swine ate

the pods keration

This is most likely the wild carob (Ceratonia oreothauma), which only had black, bitter berries, barely nourishing enough to feed pigs, let alone people.

:16 he would gladly have filled …

would gladlyepithumeo – to have a desire for, long for; to lust after

Imperfect tense – he was continually “lusting” after pig food.

have filledgemizo – to fill, fill full

bellykoilia – the whole belly, the entire cavity; the innermost part of a man, the soul, heart as the seat of thought, feeling, choice

He would have eagerly eaten pig food.  For us, it would be as if you were hungry enough to eat…

Video:  Late Late Show eating bugs
I was kind to you.  Before they ate the tarantula, they had already eaten grasshoppers, ants, and cockroaches.


Endless Lust

It seems that there is no limit to what mankind will lust after.
Anything that might seem “forbidden” is something that someone has lusted over.
In today’s society, we have come to the conclusion that if a person “lusts” for something enough, we ought to let them have it.
A man “lusts” for naked women – just click on that internet picture.
A person “lusts” for a “high” – we legalize marijuana.
A person “lusts” for someone they’re not married to – divorce is easy and accepted.
A person “lusts” for someone of the same sex – we’ve even legalized same sex marriage.
A person “lusts” to become a sex they were not born as – we think they ought to be allowed to change.
We might think that if we just do that one little thing we want to do, then our “lust” will stop bothering us and life will be okay.
The truth is, lust will continue to want more and more and more.

(Proverbs 27:20 NLT) Just as Death and Destruction are never satisfied, so human desire is never satisfied.

What starts off as a seemingly innocent little lust can grow into something monstrous. 
Uncontrolled lust only takes you one direction, downhill.
Ted Bundy was a serial killer who killed at least 30 young women between 1974 and 1978.
Before he died in a Florida electric chair in 1989, he was interviewed by James Dobson.  When asked what made him turn violent…

Bundy put the blame on graphic pornography.  “Like an addiction, you keep craving something that is harder,” intoned Bundy, “until you reach a point where... you begin to wonder if maybe actually doing it would give you that which is beyond just reading.”

From U.S. News & World Report, February 6, 1989 –

Little lusts can lead to eating pig food in a distant land.

:17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

himselfheautou – himself, herself, itself, themselves

he cameerchomai – to come

hired servantsmisthios – employed for hire, hired; from misthos – dues paid for work; wages, hire

enough and to spareperisseuo – to exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or measure; a thing which comes in abundance, or overflows unto one, something falls to the lot of one in large measure; to abound, overflow

hungerlimos – scarcity of harvest, famine

I perishapollumi – to destroy; to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to ruin; to perish, to be lost, ruined, destroyed

:17 when he came to himself


Hitting bottom

Sometimes it takes difficulty or tragedy for a person to “come to himself”. Where were you fifteen years ago?
Video:  USA Today – 9/11 Raw Footage
Fifteen years ago, our nation was shook up when the Islamic terrorists hijacked four airliners and 2,996 people were killed.
The following Sunday we had a lot of people showing up to church.
The problem was that for many, it wasn’t really hitting bottom.  Within three weeks most visitors were gone.
A person can’t just be “scared” into changing.  They need to hit bottom.  “Bottom” doesn’t have to mean anything more than realizing that you’re on the absolute wrong path in life.

:18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,

I will arise anistemi – to cause to rise up, raise up; raise up from laying down; to raise up from the dead; to rise, stand up; of those who leave a place to go elsewhere; of those who prepare themselves for a journey

I think it’s interesting that this is the same word that is used to describe the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

I have sinnedhamartano – to be without a share in; to miss the mark; to err, be mistaken; to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong; to wander from the law of God, violate God’s law, sin

against eis – into, unto, to, towards, for, among

before enopion – in the presence of, before; of occupied place: in that place which is before, or over against, opposite, any one and towards which another turns his eyes

Sin is “against” God and “before” others.

:19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’

worthyaxios – weighing, having weight, having the weight of another thing of like value, worth as much; befitting, congruous, corresponding to a thing; of one who has merited anything worthy

hired servantsmisthios – employed for hire, hired

:18 I have sinned


It starts with confession

That’s the first step to getting back home.
Admit that your sin has offended God.
Sin is “against” God.  It’s against His ways, His character, His laws.
David wrote,

(Psalm 51:4a NKJV) Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight—

Confession brings forgiveness from God.

(1 John 1:9 NKJV) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Admit that your sin has affected others.
The son realized that it was “before” the father that he had sinned.

(James 5:16a NKJV) Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

If you’re not ready to humble yourself and ask the people you’ve hurt for forgiveness, you’re not ready to come home.

:20 “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.

he aroseanistemi – to cause to rise up, raise up; raise up from laying down; to raise up from the dead; to rise, stand up; of those who leave a place to go elsewhere; of those who prepare themselves for a journey

a great waymakran – far, a great way; far hence

was … offapecho – have; to hold back, keep off, prevent; to be away, absent, distant

saweido – to see

The Father was watching for the son

had compassionsplagchnizomai – to be moved as to one’s bowels, hence to be moved with compassion, have compassion (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity)

rantrecho – to run; of persons in haste; of those who run in a race course

necktrachelos – neck

kissedkataphileo – to kiss much, kiss again and again, kiss tenderly

:20 he arose and came to his father


What God is like

Remember that Jesus is telling us this story because the scribes and Pharisees were upset that Jesus was spending too much time with “sinners”.
They had this twisted notion that God hated sinners.
Jesus is going to blow up that picture.
1)    He is patient
his father saw him
The father didn’t chase the son into the big city, but he waited at home and watched.
Even when the son was still a long way off, the father could see he was on his way because he watched.
He’s waiting for you to come home.  He’s watching for you.

(2 Peter 3:9b NLT) …No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

2)    He understands
had compassionsplagchnizomai – to be moved in one's bowels, where the ancients thought the emotions of love and pity came from.

God understands.  He cares.  He’s moved with compassion towards you.

(Psalm 103:13 NASB95) Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.

He cares what happens to you.

3)    He loves you
This isn’t some kind of cold, passionless love.
kissedkataphileo – to kiss much, kiss tenderly, kiss again and again.
This isn’t a kiss on the hand, but a kiss on the cheek or the forehead.

The son might have kissed the father’s hand, or even his feet, but the father preempted this by kissing his son on the cheek.

God has such tender affection toward you.  He loves you so much.

This is  unconditional affection.  This isn’t only when you’re good.  Note that the son has yet to say that he’s sorry.  The Father starts loving on the son before he even gets a word out.

4)    He runs
Even though God is patient, He is also a little anxious.  Did you notice what this father did when he saw his son at a distance?
rantrecho – to run; of persons in haste

It was very undignified for an older nobleman to run anywhere.  Yet this father is not ashamed of gathering up his robes and running to meet his son.

You may think that you’re still a “great way off” from being home, but you’re only as far as it takes to turn around and start back.

You’ll find Him running to you.  He wants you home.

Years ago a musician named Benny Hester wrote a song about the only time he saw God “run” …

Video:  He Ran To Me – Phillips, Craig and Dean

Almighty God,

The Great I Am

Immoveable Rock,

Omnipotent powerful

Awesome Lord,

Victorious Warrior

Commanding King of Kings

Mighty Conqueror,

And the only time,

The only time I ever saw Him run

Was when


He ran to me,

Took me in His arms, held my head to His chest

Said “My son’s come home again”.

Looked in my face, wiped the tears from my eyes

With forgiveness in His voice

He said “Son, do you know I still love you?”


Don’t give up

Some of us know Prodigals, some are even in our own family.  Follow the example of the Father’s heart and don’t give up on them.
Letting a person “go” does not mean “giving up”.
While you are waiting – pray.
Billy Graham had a prodigal son.  His wife wrote,
This is from Sitting By My Laughing Fire, by Ruth Bell Graham, and I wonder if it was written for her once wayward son, Franklin –
She waited for the call that never came; searched every mail for a letter, or a note, or card, that bore his name; and on her knees at night, and on her feet all day, she stormed Heaven's Gate in his behalf; she pled for him in Heaven's high court. "Be still, and wait," the word He gave; and so she knew He would do in, and for, and with him, that which she never could. Doubts ignored, she went about her chores with joy; knowing, though spurned, His word was true. The prodigal had not returned but God was God, and there was work to do.
By the way, that prodigal son, Franklin Graham, is being used by God in a powerful way.
By the way, today, Franklin Graham is a powerful evangelist doing a great many good things for God’s kingdom today.
He holds his own crusades.
He has been calling our nation to prayer this year in light of the coming elections.
He heads up Samaritan’s Purse, a ministry that reaches across the globe helping those in need, including the shoebox ministry we participate in called Operation Christmas Child.

:21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

He says exactly what he had planned (vs. 18-19), except he does not get a chance to say, “make me as one of thy hired servants” because he is interrupted by his father…

:22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.

:23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry;

servantsdoulos – a slave, bondman, man of servile condition

bring outekphero – to carry out, to bear forth

robestole – an equipment; an equipment in clothes, clothing; spec. a loose outer garment for men extending to the feet, worn by kings, priests, and persons of rank

bestprotos – first in time or place; first in rank

put it onenduo – to sink into (clothing), put on, clothe one’s self

put (a ring) didomi – to give; to give something to someone

ringdaktulios – a ring (on the finger)

sandalshupodema – what is bound under, a sandal, a sole fastened to the foot with thongs

:22 best robe

The best robe would most certainly be the father’s own robe.

:22 ring on his hand

The ring was a signet ring, a sign of authority.

:22 sandals on his feet

Sandals meant this young man would not be a slave, but a free man.

bringphero – to carry; to bring, bring to, bring forward

calfmoschos – a tender juicy shoot; offspring; a calf, a bullock, a heifer

fattedsiteutos (“grain”, perhaps as in “grain-fed”)  – fattened, fatted

kill thuo – to sacrifice, immolate; to slay, kill; slaughter

Could it be that there’s more than just a feast going on here?  Could there be a sense of sacrifice as well?

It would seem that this would be a “Peace Offering”, since the whole family is going to have a feast.

One of the reasons for having a “peace offering” was when you had made a vow to the Lord, perhaps something like, “Oh God, if you will bring my son back, then I will offering up a calf to You.”  This is a Father who really, really wants His son back.

let us eatphago – to eat

be merryeuphraino – make joyful; to be glad, to rejoice

:23 the fatted calf

Slaughtering a calf instead of a goat or sheep meant that most if not all of the local village would have been invited for a barbecue that big.

This welcome back would include the whole community.

:23 be merryeuphraino – make joyful; to be glad, to rejoice

In the other two parables, Jesus mentioned,

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

:24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

deadnekros – properly; one that has breathed his last, lifeless; deceased, departed, one whose soul is in heaven or hell; spiritually dead

alive againanazao – live again, recover life; to be restored to a correct life

:24 was dead and is alive

Paul wrote that we too were once “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), but God “made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4).

(Ephesians 2:1–5 NKJV) —1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

:24 he was lost and is found

was lost apollumi – to destroy; to lose

This has been an important word for Luke 15:
When the shepherd found his lost sheep:

(Luke 15:6 NKJV) And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’

When the woman found her lost coin:

(Luke 15:9 NKJV) And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’

It’s the same word used to describe those who don’t believe in Jesus, those who are “lost”, translated “perish” in…
(John 3:16 NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.


Come home

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done.
It doesn’t matter how far you’ve strayed.
The Father has been yearning for you to come to your senses.
He has been yearning for you to turn around.
He has been yearning for you to come home.
It’s not just sons that stray.  Sometimes daughters also run away from home…
On Wednesday, our beloved Kim Beller in Hungary posted this on Facebook:
Today, 18 years ago, I stopped running away from God and started running towards Him. I used to party every day, any chance I could get. I would wake up every morning, heavy-hearted and found no true purpose, no matter how hard I chased it all! I ended up with a big heart break. I always knew there was a God, but did not know Him personally until that night I cried out to Him, "Help me!"
And He did.
I have never ever regretted that decision! And as time goes on, I do come face to face with pain/ hurt & struggles, but Now I take comfort in the one who carries me through. ☺️
Jesus is the only one who can fill that void...and He has...
Here is the verse that spoke to my heart that day, September 8, 1998:

Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Are you still running from Him?
It’s time to come home.
(Pray for parents of prodigals.  Pray for prodigals)