I would utilize the Hook/Book/Look/Took lesson plan for my teaching on Luke 15:11-32, the parable of the Prodigal Son. I like this plan because it lets me build up the teaching from an introduction to a satisfying climax that would leave the hearer with a good feeling about the knowledge imparted within it. I would be teaching this to adults, some of which may be new believers. I don't believe that one needs a great scriptural background to study or hear a sermon on this parable because the parable is a simple telling of how we can all come to God and expect a warm welcome with open arms, and a great big smile included.
I would begin with the Hook by telling a fictional story about a girl who ran away from home at the age of sixteen, because she didn't like the way she was being treated by her mother. I would ask if anyone listening had ever felt like this girl did, or has had a situation where they felt like running away from the problem instead of hitting the problem head on. The story would continue with had much trouble the girl gets herself into on the streets: drinking, prostitution, drugs, etc The parents search for her but cannot find her (much as God comes to us, but we will not answer Him). After a year of heartache and pain, the girl decides that it is time to go home, but believes that she will be rejected and told to stay away forever, so she puts it off and puts it off. Another six months go by, and the girl is living in the gutters of the street; no home, no food, not even a clean change of clothes. In her desperation, she makes a phone call, and finds that she is welcome to come home. Still she hesitates from fear of reprisal from her mother, the one who drove her away in the first place. One day, she finally decides to give it a try; she could always go back out on the street if it didn't work out. But, to her surprise, she is welcomed home with love and a celebration, to find that she is, indeed, a wanted child, and that her parents love her deeply. They all live happily ever after. Amen.
In the Book section, I would read the entire parable to the people before I began to break it down into its many components of God's love for all of us. I would point out all of the places where the father desired for his son to return, even though the son believed that he would not be welcomed home again.
Verse 18: The son made the decision to go home and ask for forgiveness, just as God waits for us to respond to His call to "Come".
Verse 20: The father was waiting for the son to return, just as God waits for us for
however long it takes for us to respond.
Verse 21: The son asks for forgiveness. All God wants us to do is ask Him to forgive us, then He can begin a new work in our lives.
Verses 22-24: The celebration in Heaven begins over one who was lost and is now found.
Verses 25-32: Here we must talk about the envy and, yes, even the jealousy of older Christians who sit and watch God bless those younger Christians around them. This does happen in some congregations and must be talked about. (This is actually another whole topic for a different sermon at another time, but I would like to touch on it here for the sake of those in the congregation who are feeling this way at this time.)
In the Look section, I would take us through some of the attributes of God as they pertain to this parable: Love, mercy, forgiveness, glory, honor, and what they mean for the daily life of a Christian.
Then, in the Took section, I would discuss how we go about forgiving others, especially those for whom we have been holding a grudge for much too long. Mercy, love, and forgiveness must be the biggest part of our lives every day.
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.
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