This week's lesson has so many great parables, which means there are so many lessons to be learned and plenty for each of us to find the lesson we need personally.
I watched a lot of videos and read a lot of talks and articles with this lesson and I loved them all, so pardon me if I share more than you can take in. I hope that among these things, you will find something that speaks to you and what you need this week.
One of my favorite messages in this lesson comes from one simple verse: John 11: 35-- "Jesus Wept". My weekly email for this lesson goes more into this topic, so hopefully you are subscribed!
There is a book I got a few years ago that speaks to this topic and is well worth the read. It is a pretty small book, but a bit deep, so I read it a little slower than I otherwise read, but I highly recommend it. It is called "The God Who Weeps".
The idea that the Savior wept shows his love and compassion for Mary, Martha and Lazarus, and the book talks about the idea that God does weep for all of us.
As part of the story of the prodigal son, there is also the story of the father that waited and watched for his son to return.
Elder Orson F. Whitney said:
“‘The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.’
This is quoted in the talk by John K. Carmack entitled "When Our Children Go Astray" and the whole talk is excellent! He also quoted Elder James E. Talmage:
“I promise the Saints in the Deseret stake of Zion that if their lives are such that they can look their sons and daughters in the face, and if any of them have gone astray, that the parents are able to say, ‘It is contrary to my instruction and my life’s example; it is against every effort of love, long suffering, faith, prayer and devotion that that boy or girl has gone,’—I promise you, fathers and mothers, that not one of them shall be lost unless they have sinned away the power to repent” — Elder James E. Talmage (Quorum of the Twelve Apostles)
The following are the key principles I see in the parable of the father and his two sons. First, a loving Father, following the laws He has ordained, gave inheritances to His children and allowed them agency to do with the inheritances what they chose. Second, God allows His children to experience shock treatment to help them come to themselves and see themselves as they really are. Third, sinners can and should be received by the Father and His faithful Saints. We are to have compassion for them, extend fellowship to them, embrace them, and clothe them with dignity, honor, and respect. Fourth, God, our Heavenly Father, condescends to entreat His children. Fifth, justice will be satisfied and mercy will claim both the repentant and the obedient and the faithful. No amount of repentance could restore to the younger son the actual inheritance he had wasted. He lost something that cannot be regained. If the elder son will repent of his self-righteous attitude, he can enjoy all that the Father has. If he will not repent, he will lose the rights to an eternal inheritance in the kingdom of his Father. Finally, God is all-powerful, all-knowing, compassionate, just, and merciful, and much, much more.
The Savior revealed in this parable these attributes and characteristics so that by knowing the Father and His Son and striving to become like Them, we can be inheritors of eternal life and be crowned with this same godly nature.
This quote came from an article called "The Parable of Two Sons: A Revelation About God" by Jay Jensen.
Some of Jesus’ most memorable teaching moments have to do with finding the lost. Luke preserves the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son and ties them together with a common theme—the joy of finding that which is lost. He introduces them by providing the historical context: Jesus was meeting with people who were considered wicked and unclean—publicans and sinners. As in other such settings, the Pharisees and scribes begin to complain, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” (Luke 15:2).
Luke tells the story: “And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost” (Luke 15:3–6). The second parable continues the theme: “What woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost” (Luke 15:8–9).
These parables have nothing to do with sheep or coins, of course, but with the finding of lost souls. What they do not include is much detail about what it took to find what was lost, what efforts were expended, how many tears were shed and prayers uttered. Both stories reveal a common conclusion: there is joy in heaven over one “sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:7, 10). And both teach that whatever was required to find the lost sinner was worth it.
This quote is from an article called "To the Least, the Last, and the Lost" by Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Kent P. Jackson and is an excerpt from a book called "To Save the Lost".
The role of the man’s servants in the parable of the great supper is an aspect of the story we seldom think about. Contemplating this, I wrote the following parable: A certain man possessing many riches and desiring to share them with all his friends planned a feast with food and drink. His servants were given instructions, and preparations were made. In the evening the guests arrived hungry, looking forward to being fed. The hall was spacious and the tables beautifully set. But the cups were empty and only crumbs were spread upon the plates. The guests left hungering and thirsting, their loyalty shaken, not anxious to return. And the king wept because his servants, they who had professed total allegiance and obedience to him, did not perform their duties as expected.
We who have the responsibility to serve, train, and teach in the home or at church sometimes come to our tasks unprepared. Our children or students want to be spiritually fed but frequently go away still hungering and thirsting for the things of the Spirit of God. Every parent and teacher in the Church—whether in Sunday School, Primary, Relief Society, Young Men, Young Women, a priesthood quorum, or even on the music committee—who is not prepared to feed his or her “guests” runs the risk of leaving the Lord’s children hungry. However, when adequate preparation is made and the Spirit is invited, everyone may leave the meeting edified and rejoicing in the Lord (see D&C 50:22).
This comes from article called "The Parables of Jesus: The Great Supper" by Elder F. Melvin Hammond
I love this message and while I am often like the first son, I am also often like the second son, filled with jealousy when I should not be.
A friend of mine recently told me a story of a bed she needed to get rid of. She originally put it in the ads online for sale. It was in excellent condition, almost like new, so she should have been able to get something for it. But then she realized she just wanted to get rid of it without it being a hassle, or having to haggle about price. So she decided to just give it away for free. A man called her about the bed and came to pick it up. When he saw the bed he began to cry and told my friend he had lived his whole life sleeping on the floor--he had never owned a bed. She was so humbled and happy for him and glad she'd decided to just give it away.
I love her story and it has inspired me as I am in the process of going through and decluttering. I have more stuff than I need, some of it in perfectly good condition, sitting unused. I am gathering stuff now, and I am going to follow her example and find a way to give it to those that need it. It's one of the least things I could do.
and another on the importance of treasuring up the right kind of "wealth":