BACKGROUND INFORMATION: A story told by Jesus is called a parable. An inheritance was never received while the father was still alive. A house in Jesus’ time was not standing alone on a hill, but situated by a narrow village road. The only place where you could see outside the village was the roof of the house (20). As we have mentioned before, men never run in those parts of the world.
1. Can a young man be happy if his parents limit his freedom?
Why wasn’t the younger son happy even though he had a good home and a good father?
If you had been in the place of the Father, what would you have answered to the request of your son (12a)?
2. Why did the Father hide his disappointment and worry, although he knew perfectly well what would happen if he let his son go (12b)?
In this parable the Father means God. The son may here mean a person who has left God after having believed in him and/ or been baptized in his name. Why doesn’t God try to stop his child from wandering away from him?
3. Why are many young people in our day attracted to the lifestyle of this young man – being abroad alone, with no responsibilities and much money in his pockets?
How did this young man use his Father’s money: look at verses 13 and 30?
Why didn’t this young man get any real friends who would have stood by him even when his luck turned?
4. A pig was considered an unclean animal among the Jews. What may this young man have thought when he had to look for work on a pig farm (14-15)?
Why wasn’t the young man allowed even to eat pig food to satisfy his hunger (16)?
5. What made the young man “come to himself” rather than committing suicide in his desperate situation (17)?
In verses 18-19 you will find the confession that the young man was planning to make to his Father. What were his sins against his Father?
What were the sins this young man had committed “against heaven” (18)?
What are the sins you have committed a) against heaven, and b) against your parents? (You can answer in your heart.)
6. Why didn’t this young man intend to ask his Father to take him back as his son (19)?
What kind of people usually think that they are not worthy of being called God’s children (19)?
7. What may the Father have thought when seeing his son drag his feet on the road to the village, barefoot and in tatters (20)?
What made it possible for the Father to recognize his son from afar (20)? (See background information.)
What do you think the Father had been doing all those years with his son far away (20)?
8. Why didn’t the son tell his Father all the things he had planned to say to him (18b-19 and 21)?
What did the words and the behavior of the father convey to his son (22-23)?
When did the father forgive his son? Mention the verse.
When did the son start believing in the love and forgiveness of his father? Mention the verse.
What did the father mean by his words in verse 24?
9. How does the love of God differ from the love of men?
What does this parable teach about conversion?
10. THE GLAD TIDINGS QUESTIONS: “My son was dead, but is alive again.” Jesus, too, left the house of his Father and came to this earth, not to rebel against the will of his Father, but to fulfill it. When returning home, the door of heaven was slammed against his face, and he had to cry: “My God, my God, why did you forsake me?” Why was the son in the parable welcomed in the way Jesus should have been welcomed? And why was Jesus rejected in the way this son should have been rejected?
(For everyone to answer): What was the most important thing you learned from the text this time?