Lesson: Prodigal Son



The parable of the lost son (a.k.a. the prodigal son) is one of the most complete, detailed, and explicit parables of Jesus.  It reveals the secret of our salvation and God's attitude and expectations for the humanity.

Symbolism:

     * robe of the Father - (1) redemption, righteousness (e.g., white robe of Jesus when He returns), (2) special honor
     * ring of the Father - the supreme authority in the household
     * sandals - freedom - slaves go barefoot, only free people can wear shoes

Some Points of Interest:

     * asking the inheritance before father's death -- seen as a curse to the living father (i.e. Dad, you are as good as dead.)
going to a distant country -- the younger son is deliberately trying to get away from his father and family.  There must be possibilities for fun even in his original neighborhood.
     * coming to his senses -- sometimes we are in deep trouble and yet not asking God for help.  This verse calls it insensible.
     * wanting to be a hired man -- our human attitude concerning repentance is one of due compensation -- we want to pay for the trouble we caused or sins we committed.
     * father running to meet his son -- potentially embarrassing and maybe even unhealthful (if he is old) act for the head of the household.
     * the lost son: "I'm no longer to be called your son" -- the son admits who his father is and his unworthiness to be his son.
reason for celebration -- for his safe return.  The father said nothing about the lost property.  This shows God's priorities -- a soul is worth more than the whole world.
     * older brother: "I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders" -- this is the human attitude toward God -- one of slavery and obedience to commands.
     * older brother: "this son of yours..." -- he didn't say, "my brother" or even call him by name.  He looks down at his own brother because of his brother's wasteful living.
     * father: "this brother of yours..." -- the father reminded him this lost son is also his brother, no matter what he did before.

Additional food for thought:

     * What kind of "Christian" is the elder brother?  Do many Christians live like slaves to religious teachings because they don't understand what God has prepared for them?
     * What does the father really want from these two sons?
     * Is there a better way to live than what the two sons have chosen for themselves?

Discussion Questions:

What do you think is the younger son's perception of the father before he left?
What do you think the lost son learned while he was away?
What do you think is his perception of the father after he returned?
What do you think is the older son's perception of the father throughout the story?
Do you think the father really needs the older son to work in the field?  Why was he in the field?
Why do you think the older son never got a calf for celebration?
What seems to be the father's idea of the father-son relationship?  What did he show to the younger son?
Why was the older son so angry?  Are you angry at God if someone really sinful becomes a Christian and receives God's blessings just as you did?
Who do you think is the bigger winner at the end, the older or younger son?

This lesson was developed by George Huang.  Got a question or want to publish this lesson?  E-mail me.

Last updated: 8/2/2005