2016-06-19 – The Prodigal Son

The Prodigal Son

Good morning everyone! Before we begin, does anyone have any requests for prayer?

(Open with prayer and address requests)

Who knows what repentance is?

(They can raise their hands, or tell what it means.)

Very good! Repentance is turning away from sin and turning towards God.


Before we start, I’d like to ask all of you a question. Have you ever wanted to leave home, or do you know anyone that ran away? (raise your hand).

Today, we are going to learn about how this turned out for one young man that did just that. Jesus tells a wonderful parable in today’s Bible reading.

Does anyone know what the word parable means? It means, “to throw down alongside.”

Jesus is using a story about real life to explain a spiritual reality. He shows us a spiritual truth using a human story. This parable is often called “The Prodigal Son” or “Parable of the Lost Son,” but a better title would be the “Parable of the Loving Father.”

It shows that God is a loving Father.

Note to the Teacher: Using a chalk or dry erase board:

  • Draw a vertical line down the center, writing “God, Our Father” on one side and “Father of the Prodigal Son” on the other side.
  • As you go through the lesson, have the children list the characteristics of the prodigal son’s father.
  • Then rewrite them under the “God, our Father” heading, explaining to the class that the father in today’s lesson is a picture or type of our Heavenly Father, demonstrating his love and forgiveness.

Jesus told this parable to give His disciples and us a picture of God the Father’s heart – His desires and feelings towards us. Listen closely and hear about how much God loves us.

God is a loving Father.

LUKE 15:11-13 (NIV)

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.”

Jesus is telling us that the father is the owner and primary source of all things. The son says two little words that really give away where his heart is. Did anyone see the two words show the son’s heart?

He says, “Give me.”

This tells us that he had a selfish heart. “Give me” is what this son chose to live by. He was basically saying, “I want what you can give me, but I don’t want you. I want your presents, but I don’t want your presence.” Some people have that attitude toward God. “I want God’s blessing, but I don’t want God’s presence in my life.”

Have you ever acted selfish? (Raise hand)

Now we see how gracious the father is. He gave him his request. And as soon as the son received his inheritance, he left the father and wasted his inheritance on prodigal or wasteful living. “Wasted” is such a sad word!

Who here hates to waste time in lines? Have you ever been in an amusement park, like Kennywood, and had to waste an hour to get on a ride? (Raise hand).

We were created to serve and worship God. When we choose to ignore this calling by denying Jesus, we are wasting our lives because at the end of our life, we will be forever separated from God. When we live only for ourselves, we are wasting time and wasting our lives away.

God is a loving Father.

LUKE 15:14-16 (NIV)

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.”

He spent every last penny and ended up with nothing. Even his so-called

friends” left him when he had no more money. They only liked him because he had money to spend on them. It says he began to be in need. A severe famine came.

What is a famine? (Not enough food to feed the people.)

The only job he could get was a job feeding pigs. He was so hungry and poor that he would have gladly eaten the pig’s food. This is what happens when live selfishly. We end up missing out on so much!

We lose the blessing of our Heavenly Father. We waste our lives, and we become trapped and enslaved to our own sin. When we serve ourselves or serve sin, our lives will only end in tragedy. It is never God’s plan for us that we end up in that condition, but there was hope for the prodigal son, as we will see as we continue.

God is a loving Father.

The sad thing is, the son would not have had to be eating food that was fit for the animals. And he was all alone. He had once been rich, but now he was poor. He could have stayed in his father’s presence and enjoyed him and all that he had, but he had chosen to go his own way and live for himself.

We can learn something from this story. A life of obedience and relationship with the Lord is always the way of blessing. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”. If we decide to walk in that path, especially as children, God promises that everything will work out for good, even if it does not seem good at the time (Romans 8:28). But if we choose to take another path and disobey God, we do not have that promise from God.

God is a loving Father.

LUKE 15:17-19 (NIV)

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.’”

These are wonderful verses! The son had a change of heart. The Bible says that he “came to himself.” It was kind of like he woke up and came to his senses.

He realized something very important: he was guilty of sinning against his father. It is the same realization we all should come to when our hearts cry out “God, I’m guilty. Please forgive me.”

Just like the son, we are unworthy of God’s forgiveness, but by grace, God promises to forgive us if we come to Him. We see the son start to choose the right thing in verse 18.

He does three things: “arise,” “go” and “say.”

These words show us his repentance. He stands up, leaves for home, and hopes his father will let him stay. When we have change in our heart, it will show by a change in our actions.

Do you think that it is important that our actions match what we intend to do?

Then the son says, “Make me a servant.” Those are beautiful words! They are words that show that his cry has changed from “give me” (selfishness) to “make, or rather, mold me.” (obedience). He is showing his desire to come under the authority of his father and leave selfishness behind.

Jesus wants us to look at our own hearts and ask, “Am I saying, ‘give me’ to God, or is my response ‘mold me?’” “Give me” shows we only want to live for self, and we will end up being in want. Our prayer can be like the prodigal son’s, “Lord I want you to make me, to mold me.” That is a beautiful prayer.

Have you prayed that? (raise hand).

LUKE 15:20-24 (NIV)

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.

The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

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. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

Wow! Remember that the heart of this earthly father is supposed to show us the heart of our Heavenly Father, God. God is a loving Father. God responds to true repentance. God always receives our repentance.

God is a loving Father.

Here’s something interesting – this is the only place in Scripture we see God run. Isn’t it wonderful when our fathers come running towards us with open arms and big smiles to hug us? When we truly repent, confessing our sin (like the son in verse 21), God receives us as Jesus shows us here . What does it say the father did? The father had lovingly and longingly been waiting for his son. He had been watching for him all this time.

Isn’t it, or wouldn’t it be, wonderful if every time we come home we would see our father in the window waiting and watching for us with a big smile on his face? (Raise hand)

God waits and watches for us while we are separated from Him. Remember it is only our sin that keeps us from Him. When we come to Him in true repentance, He runs to us with hugs and kisses. What great love! No matter what our sin has been, when we truly repent, God our Father receives us this loving way. He will completely forgive us and remember our sins no more.

God is a loving Father.

What a wonderful Father we have. He does not condemn us or tell us how wrong we have been. He restores us as His children. In verse 24, God says, “…for this is my son.”

How priceless are these words – to hear our father to say to us, “You are my child. I love you!” He is going to celebrate because this is his son, restored to him! Our Heavenly Father loves us very much and wants us to come to Him no matter what we may have done. It is this great love that God has towards us that makes us desire to serve Him with all of our hearts.

God is a loving Father.

The parable goes on to talk about the other son. We don’t have time today to look at that, so we’ll take a look at him on another day.

Review Questions

Why did the son leave home?

(He was selfish, and didn’t want to be around his father.)

Was the son right in asking for his inheritance early?

(No. It was selfish and rude.)

Where did the son end up working after the money ran out?

(He was feeding pigs.)

What caused the son to have a change of heart?

(He was starving and had no one to help him. He remembered that his father treated his servants better than he was being treated.  He realized he had sinned against his father.)

How did the father respond when his son came home?

(He was waiting and watching for him. He ran out to greet him. He was happy he came back and threw a party for him.

<Work on Father’s Day Card craft>

<Close with prayer>