The Prodigal Son

Age 5+: Read Luke 15:11-32 
Under 5: Read about the prodigal son from a children's story bible or the short summary below.

Preview: This story shows how sin can be an action or an attitude. The father in the story shows us what God is like. The brothers in the story show us what we are like. Jesus wanted to teach us that we all need forgiveness, those that break the rules, and even those who follow the rules.

Jesus told a story of a man with two sons. The younger son decided he wanted to leave home and go out on his own, so he told his father to give him his share of the family’s money. So his father gave it to him and he left. Soon he spent all the money and wasted it on wild living. He had to get a miserable job tending pigs just so he would make enough money to eat. One day, as he fed the pigs he thought, “My father’s servants have plenty of food, and here I am starving! I will go back to my father, tell him I have sinned, and ask to be one of his servants.”

 The father had missed his son, so when he saw him coming back home from far away, he ran to his son, hugged him, and kissed him. The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But his father would not listen. He told his servants to bring out a fine robe for his son, plan a big party, and they began to celebrate. When the older son heard what was happening, he was angry. He had always served his father, and yet his father had never given him a great party. But his father said, “You are always with me. We had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and now is found.”

Preschool questions:
Who told this story? Jesus. 
Was the father happy or angry when his son came back? Happy. 
Was the brother happy too? No, he was mad and jealous. 

Elementary questions:
What does prodigal mean? Wasteful, reckless, or wicked. 
What did the younger son do with the money his father gave him? He wasted it. 
What did the father do when he saw his son coming back home? He ran to him, hugged, and kissed him. 
Was the younger son sorry for what he had done? Yes. 
How do you know? He told his father he had sinned, and he was humbled and repentant (he thought he would no longer be acknowledged as a son, but instead as a slave). 

Preteen application:
What differences do we see in the brothers at the end of the story? Younger is humble and repentant, Older is proud and arrogant. 
Do you realize that both brothers are sinners in need of God’s grace? Yes, discuss. 
Who does the father in the story represent? God. 
How does the lost son’s father show God’s heart toward us? God, our Father, longs to wrap his arms around us and forgive us and save us. 

Memory Verse: 1 John 3:1 “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (NIV) 

Journal (age 8+) Copy the memory verse. Think of which brother you can identify with the most. Explain why. Write down any prayer requests.

Journal (age 3+) Draw and color a picture of the father hugging his son. Copy the memory verse if able.

Optional Activity: Play lost and found. Hide some objects and take turns finding them!

Prayer: Praise and thank God, ask for forgiveness, and submit any prayer requests.

Download a FREE copy of The Prodigal Son in PDF format.