Confession as Punishment

This week we’re going to look at confession as a spiritual practice. As Brenna and Cody shared yesterday, so many times we view confession as a chore, an emotional drain, and as a necessary component of a punitive system of justice. Jesus knows that how we think of confession, so he told a story about us so that we could see the silliness of it all and how different confession really is.

Today, we’re going to try to get in touch with the reality of how crazy our idea of confession is by looking at the first part of the famous “Prodigal Son” passage. Ponder the younger son’s plan to confess; talk with God about how it''s similar to how you think of confession.

  • What’s helpful about his approach? What’s unhelpful?

  • Was it healthy to wait as long as hid did before his big confession? Why or why not?

  • What does it say about the younger son that his confession is aimed not at re-engaging him in the family, but rather as punishing him and stripping him of his position as son?

  • What do you learn about yourself?

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.