Fourth Sunday in Lent

Sermon Text: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

Other readings: Isaiah 12:1-6, James 4:7-10


  1. This parable has been called the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Prodigal means “wasteful.” How was the younger son wasteful?


  1. Some people have flipped the title in question number 1 and say that this is the Parable of the Prodigal Father. In what sense might some people say the father was wasteful? How does that reflect our heavenly Father?


  1. Jesus leaves the end of the parable hanging. He doesn’t say how the older son responded to his father’s love. Why do you think he ends that way?


  1. This parable has inspired many great artists including the two paintings below. Which one do you prefer? Why?













(The painting on the top is The Return of the Prodigal Son by Bartolome Esteban Murillo. The painting on the bottom is The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt.)






  1. The younger son abused his father’s love by carelessly spending his money on “wild living” (v. 13), which his older brother thought most likely included prostitutes.


  1. The father gives his inheritance before his death and then goes all out on the celebration when the younger son returns. Then he offers that same generosity to the older son who disrespects him outside the house. In the same way, though we can abuse God’s grace and disrespect our Father, he still continues to offer his full grace in Christ.



  1. It’s a teaching tool. Jesus leaves the story hanging so that we are forced to ask ourselves, “Did he receive or reject his father’s love?” Then, we naturally ask ourselves, “Do we receive or reject our Father’s love when we pout about not getting what we think we deserve?”


  1. Answers will vary. While the race of the people in the pictures are inaccurate (Jews are not Anglo Saxons from Renaissance Europe), they both do capture key aspects of Jesus’ parable.