We all need to experience the grace and assurance that Jesus revealed in the parable of the prodigal son.
Pencils, writing paper, local phone book, a variety of printed mazes from www.mazes.org.uk (each member should receive a maze from each level: easy, intermediate, difficult)
Connecting with the Scripture Topic
- Have you ever gotten lost? Where were you going? How did you get off track? How did you find your way back? Briefly describe your experience to the group.
- Have you ever helped someone who was lost—physically or spiritually to find their way home? Without revealing any sensitive details, briefly share what you did or said to help this person find his or her way.
Sharing and Receiving Scripture
- Each group member should receive three mazes (easy, intermediate, and difficult). When the leader says “Go,” start working on the easy maze. When you finish the easy one, do the intermediate one and then the difficult one if time allows. After five minutes, stop wherever you are. Then tell the rest of the group how you think you did. Did you get lost easily? What challenges did you find in trying to get “unlost”?
- Thought Questions
Genesis tells us about Cain and Esau, who became lost and apparently never found their way back to God. Why didn’t they?
- They had no one to help them find their way back.
- It’s hard to swallow your pride and ask for help.
- God had rejected them.
- They had rejected God.
- They never considered themselves lost.
In Luke 15, Jesus told three “lost-and-found” stories because:
- Just as three legs are better than two, these stories establish a solid foundation for ministry to those who are searching.
- Jesus needed three different ways to describe the celebration that takes place when one lost soul is saved.
- The people could better understand the value of lost people if they first heard about lost possessions (sheep, coins).
- Jesus may not have told the stories at the same time, but Luke grouped these stories together.
- Christ was trying to change the Pharisees’hearts because of their comment in verse 2.
How does the wisdom of John 11:9-10 apply to the searchers we’ve seen so far?
- Cain and Esau were determined to resist the light, but the prodigal son finally saw it.
- When we sneak around in the dark, up to no good, that is when we stumble.
- Everybody stumbles like Cain, Esau, and the prodigal son; it’s part of being human.
- When we live our lives with accountability, we can walk securely.
- There is always enough light, but we may have to wait patiently through the night for it to arrive.
- It is given as a free gift—an incredible act of grace.
- It covers the filthy garments of a life lived apart from the Father.
- It represents a life of obedience, even though the receiver has been ultimately disobedient.
- It shows that no sin is beyond the forgiveness of the Father.
- “God’s abundant provision of grace” (Romans 5:17) overwhelms “the condemnation for all men” (v. 18).
Applying the Message of Scripture
Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. Then report back to the larger group when your facilitator says time is up.
- Option 1: Do you know someone who no longer fellowships with you and has possibly been forgotten by your congregation? Make a pact with your class to pray daily for that person. If you don’t see immediate results, don’t get discouraged; watch for openings to reconnect with that person in the coming weeks and months.
- Option 2: Think about the story of the prodigal son and make a list of things that may have led him away from his father. Next to that list, make another list of things that could have corrected his wayward path before he was too far gone. Is there something loving you can do to help someone at church now who is about to leave?
- Option 3: Look in the phone book to see if your community has a Big Brother/Big Sister program. If there is one, call and spend a few minutes gathering information on how to get involved (if no one answers, get as much information as possible from the voicemail greeting).
Valuing Scripture in Your Life
- For the next three minutes, quietly reflect on times when you’ve chosen to walk in darkness instead of light. What did you do or what are you doing to come back into the light?
- After three minutes, those who choose to may share their thoughts. Conclude with prayer.