Story of Jesus: The Lost Sons
Sermon Review: The story of the prodigal son is a famous and comforting story of God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness for those who are wayward and lost. However, the story wasn’t meant to give warm fuzzy feelings to his audience. He told this story to condemn the arrogant and pious attitude of the Pharisees who refused to love, accept and forgive those they considered lowly and sinful. This story was meant to turn the tables on the religiosity of the day and explain that God is not a God of the finger-pointers; he’s the God of the disenfranchised. He loves, accepts and forgives everyone, the sinner and the self-righteous. He welcomes them all into the feast and all into relationship. We discover from this story that the real lost son was not the rebellious son, but the son who was self-righteous. Because at the end of the story, it was only the rebellious son who was in the feast. This parable reminds us that we were all once the younger son; it warns us to never become the older son, and beckons us to be like the father and to love, accept and forgive everyone.
Life Group Questions:
Read Luke 15:11-13.
- What did the younger son ask of his father? What kind of character does this show?
- Why do you think the father would split the inheritance for the youngest? Do you think that he knew what was going to happen? Have you ever done something similar to the father, in giving that which you knew would just be wasted?
- What did the son do after he got his inheritance? Do you think that he had planned this out? Do you think he ever planned on returning home? Why/why not?
- Why do you think the son was so eager to leave? What are some reasons that you want to escape responsibility? Why do you think the son moved so far from home? Why does anonymity free people to live reckless lives?
- When the son runs out of money, and famine hit, he suddenly became aware of his foolishness. When do we normally realize our need for God?
- Have you ever been brought to a low point in your sin like the son? Are you willing to share?
- What kind of job did the young man get? What did the Old Testament say about pigs (Leviticus 11:7-8; Proverbs 11:22; Isaiah 65:1-7)? What kind of response would this have evoked from the listeners of the story? What would be a modern day example for us?
- What was the son’s motivation to return to his father? How is our motivation similar to the son’s at times? (Leader Hint: The son’s motivation was to pay back his father for his wrongdoing).
- What would your response have been to a son who left your home in such a way and then tried to come back all in one day? How about a friend?
- What did the father do as soon as he saw his son returning? How is this a picture of when we return to God?
- Not everyone had a great earthly father and sometimes it is hard to identify with this picture of a father. Are there some characteristics that you find it hard to identify with or are there some ways that you fail to be like this father with others? (Explain if you are willing).
- What happened when the older son found out about the party? Why was he angry? Why was he unable to rejoice in the brother’s return?
- Have you ever felt like you have been overlooked or passed over for praise and recognition? How do we get into the position where we think that we deserve to be praised?
- How does the father respond to the older brother? What keeps you from being able to rejoice at the return of the younger son?
- Who do you most identify with, the older or the younger brother? Why?
- Who really is the main character in this story? Who then are we supposed to be like in this story?
- The Father’s heart is one of love, acceptance and forgiveness. How would you grade yourself in your attitude and actions towards other Christians?
- How can we get the Father’s heart? What can we do to gain his perspective and love for his other children?