Crossroads: The Prodigal Son

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Luke 15:11-32

My Story

As the older child, I have always had a better understanding of what was going on in our family. I knew that our budget was tight, and so I never asked for anything exorbitant from my mom. My younger sister, however, never seemed to have any idea that we were strapped for cash. What she got was just never enough. And it seemed that my mother would always buy more for her, particularly at Christmas. I knew why this was so—I also got Christmas with my dad, who always came to visit at Christmas. My sister’s father, however, has no contact with her, and so she never got an extra Christmas. Although I knew all of this, there were times when it was still hard on Christmas morning when it seemed like she got more than I did. When I read the story of the prodigal son, I usually find myself in the shoes of the older brother, the one who did what he was supposed to, stayed around to help, and yet finds that his younger brother, the one who squandered everything, is the one who gets the party. The older brother is jealous and cannot see that his father is celebrating what was lost and now is found. Where do you find yourself in this story?

Your Story

Tell your children a story about how you find yourself in this story.
• Have you been the one who was jealous of the attention or promotion given to someone else?
• Have you been the one who finally returned home and found God’s arms open wide?

The Bible Story

Read the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. You can either read it from your own Bible, or read this version from the Message:

“Then he said, “There was once a man who had two sons. The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine though that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any. That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father. When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’ But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time. All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’ The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores [you may want to change this word] shows up and you go all out with a feast!’ His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’”

Discussion Questions

Ask your children to think of a time when…
• You (as their parent) did something special for their brother or sister’—were they jealous or joyful? Why? What happened? (Keep in mind you might be surprised by their answers).
• (Child) You apologized for something, not because you were sorry, but because you wanted to get something out of it.
• You thought your mom or dad would say, “I told you so!” but she/he didn’t. He/she just forgave you instead.
• Have you forgiven someone when they deserved an “I told you so!”?

Action

Be intentional about forgiveness this week. Try not to say “I told you so.” Give someone a second chance.

Pray

Thank God for all of the second chances He gives you (and your family). Ask for help in forgiving others and giving them second chances as well.

Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.

Kevin Head began serving as Minister to Young Families at First Baptist Roswell, Georgia, in February 2012. He has pastored three churches in Kentucky and more recently served as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Lumberton, North Carolina. In 2007, Kevin and his wife, Amy, began a ministry-based counseling practice called New Perspectives for Life in East Cobb, Georgia. He is a graduate of Furman University (B.A.) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Ph.D., M.Div.) in Louisville, Kentucky. Kevin was ordained by the First Baptist Church of Belvedere, South Carolina. His model of ministry is based on John 8 and the amazing, continual grace of Jesus Christ. Kevin and Amy have two children, Jenna and Joshua.

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