Text: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
So he told them this parable:
Return of the prodigal son
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This cluster of parables in Luke 15 seems to center on a theme of losing something valuable and the joy of finding it again. They seem to be parallel, but note the differences. In the first, the shepherd searches for the sheep, who presumably had wandered off on his own. In the story of the woman and the coins, clearly it was not the coin that got itself lost, and the coin could not assist in its being found. In the third story, the son “loses” himself and “finds” himself, to be welcomed back by the father.
Luke presents Jesus saying that the story of the sheep shows that “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance,” and the story of the coin illustrates “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Why, do you imagine, does Luke not include an explanation or conclusion to the story? What might the third story suggest? How does it fit into the pattern that Luke offers? How is it different? What would you say is the “moral” of the story?
– Andy Kille
“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC. For details and subscription information, see About BibleWorkbench.
Text: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
In the same way that I’ve had to learn not to pluck the wiry grey hairs that sprout unbidden on my scalp lest I go bald, I’ve had to learn not to reject the less appealing parts of my personality lest I lose the wholeness of self. As with a weedy garden, non-toxic attempts at eradication are temporary at best anyway, and my energies might be better spent learning how to work with the stubborn aspects of my nature while focusing on nurturing the growth of more positive qualities. Which is not to say that I ignore my faults or let them run the show, but rather that I am more tolerant of them, occasionally amused by their antics, and, once in a great while, amazed to see that one of them has blossomed into a beautiful flower.
– Kathie Collins
Text: Luke 19:1-10
Jungian analyst and teacher Marie Louise Von Franz writes that climbing up a tree and down again is symbolic of psychological rebirth. The cross – the tree upon which Christ was crucified – suggests that the tree is also a symbol of spiritual rebirth. To climb a tree is to climb toward heaven. To sit in a tree is to retreat from reality, to move physically onto another plane within the material world, to gain a bird’s eye view of things – a new perspective. Perhaps Zacchaeus (who was short in stature), in climbing the sycamore, perceived the world in a new way. Perhaps he saw not only Jesus, but saw from Jesus’ viewpoint the possibility of the Kingdom of God. And perhaps, if he had a vision of this wholeness, he was able to imagine his role in bringing it about – more than imagine even, to offer himself fully to the cause. Continue reading
Text: Luke: 18:9-14
Pull down the blinds and lock the door. Turn the lights low. Stand up, take a deep breath, shut your eyes and go inside yourself. Meet there your Pharisee who is standing off by himself. With your inner eye look around your world at the tax collector folks – thieves, rogues, and adulterers. Say out loud: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people.” Continue reading
Text: Luke 18:1-8
And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” How would you respond to Jesus’ question? Remember that the designation Son of Man can be understood in a number of ways, ranging from a way of saying “anyone” to a divine figure.
Do you find faith on earth? What does it look like? What are its qualities, its effects? From whence does it come, and how is it sustained? What does the story of the persistent widow and the unjust judge add to your understanding about whether the Son of Man might or might not find faith on earth?
– Andy Kille
Text: Luke 17:5-10
Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? This segment of the parable in Luke does not have a parallel in any of the other canonical gospels. What kind of societal relationship does it presume between the people Jesus is addressing and their slave? When do you simply expect someone to do what was commanded, whether explicitly or implicitly? When have you been expected to do what was commanded? Continue reading
Text: Luke 15:1-3; 11-32
But when he came to himself. . . What would it take for me to come to myself? To be the real person I was designed to be?
I think of people I know who’ve lived destructively but have come to themselves, getting up and going back to being what they were meant to be. One was my dear uncle. As a young man he was a binge drinker. Continue reading