1. Where are you in birth order among your siblings?

  1. Oldest
  2. Youngest
  3. Somewhere in the middle.
  4. Other __________.

Name one advantage and one disadvantage of your place in the birth order.


“There was a man who had two sons….” Luke makes clear in his opening sentence that this parable is about the father, all sibling rivalry aside. These sons are props on the stage of this unfolding drama about the father’s radical love and extraordinary grace. The swineherding scene would offend Jewish sensibilities, to be sure, but Jesus’ audience would take greater offense at two twists in this parable. They expected God to punish rebels, but Jesus turned the tables on their expectation when he tells how the father throws an extravagant party. Jesus also flipped the script regarding the elder brother, in whom all Pharisees would see themselves: To confront the older son—for his inner rebellion—was a move unexpected by the Jewish elders. By grace, one and all are restored to the father.

God’s Story

2. Have one person read Luke 15:11-32 straight through. See yourself in all three family members—with all the pathos and rhetorical flourish you can muster.

Finding My Story in God’s Story

3. Which character do you most identify with in this narrative? Why that one?

4. If you were a neighbor invited to this fattened-calf-kind-of-party for the younger son, what would you do?

  1. Accept the invitation, because love conquers all.
  2. Accept the invitation, with serious reservations.
  3. Politely decline, with a bogus excuse.
  4. Decline the invitation, protest its inappropriateness.
  5. Other __________.

5. If you were the conscience of the older brother, what advice would you “whisper” to him?

  1. Play it safe—respond exactly as Luke records it.
  2. Empathize—roll with what Dad is feeling; his “lost” son is now “found.”
  3. Take the middle of the road—celebrate the younger son’s return and the older son’s loyalty.
  4. Be fierce—give him a piece of my mind, even while losing peace of mind.
  5. Other __________.

6. Imagine you are the younger son eavesdropping on this conversation with the elder bro. What feelings would you have?

  1. Anger towards the older brother.
  2. Sympathy for the older brother’s circumstance.
  3. Remorse for the trouble I’ve caused and urge Dad to cancel the party.
  4. Vindicated, because my bro is still the stiff-necked, self-centered boor.
  5. Other __________.


7. If you were the fattened calf, do you think this extravagant party is worth your sacrifice? (Why? Or why not?)


8. What do you suppose the father was thinking and feeling in the time between when the younger son departed and returned?

  1. Suffering a broken heart, full of regrets.
  2. Second-guessing and wondering what else he could have done.
  3. Moving from a fait accompli and playing a prayerful waiting game.
  4. Scanning the horizon and checking his mail, while tending to business at hand.
  5. Other __________.

9. When have you experienced the “lost and found” drama depicted in this story?


10. What roadblocks must you overcome to experience the father’s kind of love, on either the receiving or giving end?

  1. My relationship with my own father is strained/estranged.
  2. My relationship with my own son is strained/estranged.
  3. I object to unconditional grace—it’s too easily abused.
  4. Other __________.


Our Story

11. What “next steps” would help you embrace the actions of the father in this story?

  1. Receive the Father’s lavish love and realize I am loved.
  2. Emulate the Father’s love and offer that love to a prodigal I know.
  3. Play the long game—wait and pray for a prodigal I know.
  4. Exercise my gift of hospitality more generously than I do.
  5. Other ___________.


Pray as a group about any “roadblocks” and “next steps” identified above. Be sure to praise God for any experiences of being “lost and found” as also identified above.