The Life of Christ 101 - Small Group Lesson 9
St. Timothy Lutheran Church of San Diego
The Parables of Jesus in Luke Chapter 15: The Lost Sheep, Coin and Son
“This brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
The extravagant (prodigal) grace of God
Prodigal: an adjective meaning: 1. recklessly extravagant 2. having spent everything
God’s most valuable possessions are not the stars in the sky, the mountains, the seas, or the
fields. God’s most valuable possessions are his children…us…and God comes searching
desperately for us when we are lost.
Our parable today is most often called the “Prodigal Son” but we are calling it the “Prodigal
God” because we are focusing on the extravagant or prodigal Father who is loving, forgiving,
watching, waiting and then running to his lost son. But this is also about the elder son. Two
sons, one who kept the rules religiously and one who broke them all. One father who loved both
lost sons beyond anything they could imagine.
• Typically, a son would receive his inheritance at the time of his father's death. The fact that the
younger brother instigated the early division of the family estate showed a rebellious and proud
disregard for his father, not to mention a selfish and immature attitude.
• Pigs were unclean animals. Jews were not even allowed to touch pigs. When the son took a
job feeding pigs, even longing for their food to fill his belly, it reveals that he had fallen as low
as he could possibly go. This son represents a person living in rebellion to God. Sometimes we
have to hit rock-bottom before we come to our senses.
• The father is a picture of the Heavenly Father. God waits patiently, with loving compassion to
restore us when we return to him with humble hearts. He offers us everything in his kingdom,
restoring full relationship with joyful celebration. He doesn't even dwell on our past
• Reading from the beginning of chapter 15, we see that the older son is clearly a picture of the
Pharisees. In their self-righteousness, they have forgotten to rejoice when a sinner returns to
God. Bitterness and resentment keeps the older son from forgiving his younger brother. It blinds
him to the treasure he freely enjoys through constant relationship with the father.
Luke 15 The Parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, Lost Son
Lost Sheep - 1Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2But the
Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
Then Jesus told them this parable: 4"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of
them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds
it? 5And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6and goes home. Then he calls his
friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' 7I tell you
that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over
ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
The Lost Coin - 8"Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Does she not light a
lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9And when she finds it, she calls her
friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' 10In the same
way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
The Lost Son - 11Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12The 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. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in
that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of
that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He 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 men have food to spare,
and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I
have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make
me like one of your hired men.' 20So 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.[b]'
"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. 23Bring 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
"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and
dancing. 26So 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
"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with
him. 29But 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. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes
home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'
" 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had
to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and
is found.' "
Learn more about this parable by reading the book, “The Prodigal God” by Timothy Keller
Small Group Questions:
1. How did God speak to you today in this parable? Was there a highlight, new
understanding or application for you?
2. Often the oldest sibling in a family is the parent-pleaser, the responsible one who
obeys the parental standards. The younger sibling tends to be the rebel, a free spirit
who prefers the company and admiration of peers. How have you observed this
dynamic in your own or other families?
There are two kinds of lostness. That’s the reason Jesus put the elder brother in the
parable. You can escape God as much through morality and following the rules of
religion as you can escape God through immorality and reckless living.
Younger Brother Characteristics: Lives a self-indulgent life; Tries to get the father’s
things by being bad rather than a relationship with the father; Tries to get control by
disobeying; Breaks the rules; Self-discovery focus.
Older Brother Characteristics: Lives an obedient life; Tries to get the father’s things by
being good rather than desiring a relationship with the father; Tries to get control by
obeying; Keeps the rules; Conforms to morals; Angry; Feels superior; Has an unforgiving,
judgmental spirit; Joyless, obeys out of fear; Lack of assurance of the father’s love (which
results in an inability to deal with criticism, irresolvable guilt, and a dry prayer life);
condescending, condemning, anxious, insecure.
Both the Younger Brother and the Older Brother are: Lost; want control; Alienated
from the father; Want the father’s things not the father; they do not love the father; Want
own happiness; The Father reaches out to them; The Father invites both of them to the feast;
Both are loved by the father.
3. Who do you identify with more, the younger brother or the older brother? Why?
4. How would the attitude of the elder brother make it harder for the younger brother to
come home? How can you prevent this from happening in your own life and at St.
5. Imagine in this parable Jesus as a true elder brother who helps in pursuit of the
younger brother. Tim Keller writes, “For us there is a true elder brother. There is one
who loved and obeyed the father completely…one who earned everything-he earned
the robe, he earned the ring, he earned everything. But at the end of his life, what do
we see? He doesn’t get a royal robe, he got stripped. He doesn’t get the fattened calf,
he got vinegar…And this true elder brother comes to us and says, “I did it all for
you.”…In other words, salvation is absolutely free for us, but it’s unbelievably costly
for him.” Forgiveness always comes at a cost. What did it cost the father to
bring his younger son home? What did it cost Jesus to bring us home?
6. Is there anything you would like the group to pray for you personally or as a result of this
Life of Christ - 101
Memory Card Lesson 9
Parables Often Occur in Clusters with the Same Theme
1. Name the parables with the theme of lost from Luke 15?
a. Lost Sheep
b. Lost Coin
c. Lost Son
God loves us and searches desperately when we are lost.
2. Name the parables with the theme of valuable possession from Matthew 13?
a. Hidden treasure
b. Pearl of great price
Jesus is our most valuable possession.
3. Name the parables with the theme of growth from Matthew 13?
b. Mustard seed
The presence of Christ grows in us, in the church, and in the world. Christ
grows from small to great.
4. Name the parables with the theme of God separating the good from the bad from
a. Wheat and weeds
b. Good fish from the bad
God is the one who separates the good from the bad on Judgment Day. We
are not to judge. Only God knows the heart and history of another person.
5. Name the parables with the theme of final Judgment Day from Matthew 25?
a. The ten maidens
b. The Talents
c. The Sheep and the goats
God will reward and punish on Judgment Day. We are to live our life