Read Luke 15:1-10
Who is in Jesus' audience as He tells these stories? How do you think each group responded?
Note about the lost sheep: a teaching that has become prominent in the Christian church in the 20th Century is that, when a shepherd had a wandering sheep, he would find it, break its leg, and then nurse it back to health … and in this way encourage the sheep not to wander again. Then preachers apply this in various ways to our lives with God. As I've researched this, I've found no basis in Scripture or in early church tradition for this teaching. In addition, for a shepherd to break the leg of his sheep would be quite dangerous - the sheep could easily suffer infection and die. And what if 2 or 3 or 4 sheep wandered … what then? So best to avoid this teaching, and focus instead on what Jesus focused on here, which is the joy of the shepherd in finding the lost sheep.
When in your life was there a point when you strayed from the Shepherd, when you were a lost coin? Share with the group, if you are able.
What did God use to find you and bring you back?
Read Luke 15:11-32
What was going through the young man's mind in the various stages of his life?
What was the son really asking for in v. 12?
Surely the father knew what the kid would do with his inheritance - why then did he give it to him?
What bargain does the son come up with in v. 18 & 19?
What did we talk about in Sunday's message concerning the phrase, "He ran to his son"? What are the cultural implications of this rich landowning father doing this?
How does the son's actual speech in v. 21 differ from his planned speech in v. 18 & 19? Why the difference? What changed?
How did the older son view his relationship with his father?
How does the older brother's view of the younger brother give insight into our view of those who are out 'squandering God's gifts'? What can we learn?
What is this younger guy called in v. 27, 30 & 32? Why the difference?
What is the implication of the father saying "everything I have is yours" in v. 31?
Who "is" the younger son, older son, and father in the parable?
Jesus does not end the story. Does the older son come in? What happens? He's telling the story to the Pharisees … and He's allowing them to, in a sense, write the ending. What ending do they 'write'?
Whom do you identify with in this story?
What are the lessons for you in the story? What will you 'take home'?