Talk about an experience of getting lost. What happened? How did you find your way back home?
Background (Read aloud)
Jesus talked often about how we can lose our way spiritually. He wanted to help people find their way back to God, so he told this story.
Scripture Passage 1
Luke 15:11-24 (Read aloud)
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “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. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “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! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Tell me what happens here from the point of view of the father.
How does he likely feel when the son asks for his inheritance?
How does he respond?
What does he do while the son is gone, and what does he do when the son returns?
How do you think he feels?
Tell me the story from the younger son’s point of view.
Why do you think the son does what he does?
What happens at first and then later?
What does the son do when he hits bottom, and why?
Can you share a time when you hit bottom or felt pretty down? What happened? What did you do?
What happens when the son returns to the father, and how do you think the son feels at the end?
The robe represents the welcome back into the family, the ring represents the father’s authority, the sandals represent freedom, and the feast represents celebration and joy. That’s how God feels when we come back to Him!
What do you think are some of the reasons people decide they want to come back home to God?
What keeps people from coming home to God?
What might be holding you back?
Scripture Passage 2
Luke 15:25-32 (Read aloud)
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
How does the elder son respond, and why do you think he responds that way?
The elder brother is like a lot of religious people who think they already have all the answers, but don’t have much love for God or enjoyment in life. What does Jesus seem to think of people like that?
So what is God like from Jesus’ point of view?
Which do you identify with more in your relationship with God--the younger son or the older son?
Like the younger son, do you feel you need to come back home to God, and do you want to do that?
Like the older son, do you think you need to learn to celebrate with God and enjoy God’s love more, and do you want to do that?