The Prodigal Son (March 10)

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32


A Father and Two Sons in the Bible

From the GoTell website:

“Jesus' parable of the father and two sons is a development of a storytelling tradition of Israel stories about a father and two sons. The first one is the story of Adam's two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain was offended at his brother because God favored him more. So he killed him. This parable has that same motif. The elder son is offended because his brother gets better treatment than he does. The possibility remains at the end of the parable that he may kill his younger brother.

The story of Jacob and Esau is also a classic story of a father with two sons. Once again the younger son tricks his elder brother, gets his birthright and then his blessing. The younger son must flee for his life. When he returns many years later there is a real possibility that Esau is going to kill him. Esau has mercy on his brother and forgives him” (

Reading the Scripture

Here is a way you might read the scripture or tell the story:

•    Biblical Storytelling: Helps and audio examples for telling the story from the GoTell webpage:

•    Video:
o    Video clip from the film, Jesus of Nazareth, in which Jesus’ character tells the story of the Prodigal Son (posted on this webpage).
o    A modern day Parable of the Prodigal Son music video (posted on this webpage).
o    WatchWord Bible, New Testament on DVD is available in the library. (These videos display and read the text in Contemporary English Version with background pictures, video and sound. Not exactly dramatized or all that exciting, but could be another way to read the text.)

•    Audio:
o    The Bible Experience: The Complete Bible (“presented by a stellar ensemble of today’s top-name actors, musicians, clergy, directors, and award-winning producers.” Available from Keith).
o    Faith Comes by Hearing: You’ve Got the Time (Dramatized New Testament we used a few years ago during Lent. Available in the library and the church office.)
Teaching Suggestions

•    What Do Pigs Eat (v. 16)? I asked that question of Dr. Darrell Johnson, Doctor of Animal Science (Ruminant Nutrition) with a Minor in Biochemistry:
    “Pigs have a similar anatomy to humans including their digestive system.  The similarity to human anatomy is why we dissected fetal pigs in college biology.  Animals are usually classed as herbivores (plant eaters), carnivores (meat eaters) and omnivores (plant and meat eaters).  Pigs like humans are omnivores and will basically eat anything.  Most modern pig diets consist primarily of corn and soybean meal with added minerals and vitamins but given their choice pigs will eat anything but are good at balancing their diet to get the right amount of protein and energy.  It is common with farm pigs to put a ring in their nose to prevent them from "rooting" through the ground.  They will tear up a large patch of ground in search of worms and grubs if you don't.  I was always told as a kid to never cut yourself and fall down in a pen of pigs as they would consume you.  In many old westerns you will see where they used a pen of pigs to dispose of people that had been killed. The Bible version i read said the pigs were eating pods of the carob tree, which is an evergreen tree in the Middle East that contains edible pods.  Carob can be used as a substitute for chocolate.”
That would be enough to make me repent and go home to Daddy.

•    Sinners: We tend to think of sinners as someone who has broken God’s law. “Sinners” as they were understood in the culture of the New Testament had more to do with a person being ritually or spiritually unclean. Certainly, disobeying God’s law could make you unclean or impure before God, but so could your race or social status or some physical defect or illness. Which makes it even more complicated when we remember that illness or physical defects were thought to be God’s punishment for disobedience.

•    God embraces the wandering child. The older brother is less accepting. Who would our church have difficulty accepting?

•    Testimonies of Repentance: Invite class member to share their testimonies of how they repented and came to Christ. It would be wonderful if we could get our church members to share their faith stories and get some of them written down. Some of them could be used in a booklet to share with our neighbors.


I have set aside a shelf in the library with resources for Sunday School teachers. I will place there resources of general interest and some specifically applicable to current lessons. Other resources are kept in my office.

•    For additional commentary on the text see these commentaries in our library:
o    Mercer Commentary on the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1995)
o    Harper’s Bible Commentary (Harper & Row, 1988)