Introduction: Last weekend I was with my brother at a church picnic.
He lives at one end of the country and I live at the other. When one
of the fine members of his church said to us, “I’ve been wondering,
which of you is the oldest?”, it provoked an immediate protest from
my (younger) brother. Sibling rivalry is still alive at the half
century mark! Our lesson is about sibling rivalry in the Bible, so
let’s race our siblings to dive into our study!
- The Rebel Son
- Read Luke 15:11-13. Based on your experience, how would
you guess the relationship was between this younger son
and his father?
- Was the younger son’s request reasonable?
- What do you think about the tone of his request?
- Was he acting like he wanted his father dead?
- Was he enjoying living with his
- Why would he want to go (v.13) to a “distant
country?” (He wanted to get as far away from Dad
as possible. He wanted to do his own thing. His
intention was to go far away.)
- Do you think the father wanted him to go? (Probably
in part. No doubt this son was rebellious and a
- Was the father making a mistake in
giving the younger
son his share and letting him go?
- Would you have done this for one of your
- What would happen if the older brother asked for the
- What would you guess was the relationship
between the older brother and his father? (I
think they got along just fine. The older son
did not want to leave his father. No doubt the
father was grateful that the older son did not
request the same thing. The inference is that
they appreciated each other.)
- Our lesson is about sibling rivalry. How would you
guess the relationship was between the older and
- What kind of judgment did the younger son show when
he got out on his own?
- Do you think this was in accord with what his
Dad had taught him as he was growing up?
- Read Luke 15:14-16. Had this younger son carefully
prepared for the future?
- How long did the money last that his Dad had worked
all his life (so far) to accumulate? (It seems not
- What kind of a job is pig feeding?
- Would Jesus’ listeners think that tending pigs
was productive work? (No! Pigs are unclean
animals ( Leviticus 11:7), therefore this was
completely unproductive work.)
- In light of all of this, how do you think the younger
son now viewed his life?
- The Converted Son
- Read Luke 15:17-19. What brought the younger son to his
senses? Was it reading the Bible? A change in his
spiritual understanding? (This was not a change driven by
spiritual renewal. This is a change driven by hunger and
- What does this teach us in dealing with our children?
- How has the attitude of the younger
(What he previously demanded as his right, he now
calls a sin against his Dad. What he previously
aspired to as his life, he now calls a sin against
- Tell me about the state of his sibling
- Read Luke 15:20-24. What do you think the father thought
the future held for his younger son when he left?
- Would you have reacted this way if you were the
- Notice verse 20 says the father was
compassion for him.” Why is that? (This is preceded
by the statement that the father “saw him.” I think
he looked thin and ragged. He had no shoes (v.22).)
- Did the father act appropriately?
- This picture that Jesus paints of this
is representative of our Heavenly Father. What do you
think about the Father in Heaven “running” towards
sinners, “throwing arms” around them and “kissing”
- The Faithful Son
- Read Luke 15:25. What is the older son doing? (He is
working! Always faithful!)
- Read Luke 15:26-30. Was the older son
his own work and his own obedience?
- Do you think the older son envied the younger son?
- Is there sibling rivalry here in that
the older son
wished he had done what the younger son did?
- Did the younger son now wish he had the sense to
do what the older son did?
- Is there sibling rivalry here in that the older son
wanted to be held in higher honor because he had been
faithful? Should he have been held in higher honor?
- What do you think was the older son’s
complaining about this? (He is complaining that
things are not fair. He deserves greater respect and
“things” because he has been faithful. Yet, the
younger son is getting more at the moment.)
- Remember the parable in Matthew
20:1-15 of the
workers that came to work at different times, but all
got paid the same amount? Is the complaint of the
“early to arrive at work” workers the same as the
complaint of the older son?
- What do you think about the father
leaving the house
to go reason with his older son? (This again shows
God’s willingness to pursue us, to come to us.)
- Read Luke 15:31-32. Do you remember as a kid saying to
yourself, “I’ll go out and sin, and then I’ll come back to
God when I’m older?” What is the father saying is the
advantage of faithfulness? (You are with him. All he has
- Is that what our Heavenly Father offers to His
- Notice that in verse 19 the younger son decides he has
forfeited the right to be called a son. Notice also that
the older son in verses 29 and 30 says that the property
given to the younger son was really the father’s property,
and the property left was also the fathers. Do both sons
have trouble believing they are sons? Why is that?
- Do you have trouble believing you are a child of the
- A Tale of Two Sisters
- Read Luke 10:38-42. Imagine 13 men came to dinner at your
house. How would you react?
- Who is more like the older son, Mary or
- Focus on Luke 10:38, 40 and 41. Tell me
what you learn
about Martha? (She owned her own home. She invited Jesus.
She was working to make her home such that Jesus’ visit
would be “just right.” She needed help. She had the
attitude that her sister was “worthless” enough so that
she could not appeal directly to her for help, but would
have to go to “higher authority” – Jesus. She was
distressed about the whole thing coming off right. She was
worried about “many things” (13, to be exact!).)
- In contrast, what do we know about Mary? (She left
the work that needed to be done (v.40) and listened
to Jesus (v.39).
- Who do you identify with? Mary or
- Who do you think the older son would identify
with? (He was a faithful worker, like Martha.
However, he also stayed “with” his father, like
- Was Martha’s complaint in verse 40
complaint of the older son? (“Don’t you care?”)
- How are Mary and the younger son
are both drawn to Jesus/the Father — not out of
a sense of obligation, but a sense of need.)
- The Lesson of the Siblings
- Is there a common lesson to be learned from these two
- What are the dangers if you identify with the older
son and Martha? Do you have to carefully evaluate
your attitude? Are you serving God because of choice
or because of obligation?
- What are the dangers if you identify
with the younger
son and Mary? Could you be led to believe you are
less worth-while because of your past sins?
- These lessons show our Heavenly
preoccupation with us turning to Him!
- Friend, do you want God to ( Luke 15:20) run to you, throw
His arms around you and kiss you? God is waiting for you!
Will you turn to Him?
- Next Week: Children Showcased