Lesson 6

Sibling Rivalry

(Luke 10 & 15)
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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!

  1. The Rebel Son

    1. Read Luke 15:11-13. Based on your experience, how would you guess the relationship was between this younger son and his father?

      1. Was the younger son's request reasonable?

        1. What do you think about the tone of his request? ("Give me!")

      2. Was he acting like he wanted his father dead?

      3. Was he enjoying living with his father?

        1. 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.)

      4. Do you think the father wanted him to go? (Probably in part. No doubt this son was rebellious and a general pain.)

      5. Was the father making a mistake in giving the younger son his share and letting him go?

        1. Would you have done this for one of your children?

      6. What would happen if the older brother asked for the same thing?

        1. 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.)

      7. Our lesson is about sibling rivalry. How would you guess the relationship was between the older and younger sons?

      1. What kind of judgment did the younger son show when he got out on his own?

        1. Do you think this was in accord with what his Dad had taught him as he was growing up?

    1. Read Luke 15:14-16. Had this younger son carefully prepared for the future?

      1. How long did the money last that his Dad had worked all his life (so far) to accumulate? (It seems not long.)

      2. What kind of a job is pig feeding?

        1. Would Jesus' listeners think that tending pigs was productive work? (No! Pigs are unclean animals ( Leviticus 11:7), therefore this was completely unproductive work.)

      3. In light of all of this, how do you think the younger son now viewed his life?

  1. The Converted Son

    1. 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 hardship.)

      1. What does this teach us in dealing with our children?

      2. How has the attitude of the younger son changed? (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 God.)

      3. Tell me about the state of his sibling rivalry attitude now?

    2. Read Luke 15:20-24. What do you think the father thought the future held for his younger son when he left?

      1. Would you have reacted this way if you were the father?

      2. Notice verse 20 says the father was "filled with 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).)

      3. Did the father act appropriately?

      4. This picture that Jesus paints of this earthly father is representative of our Heavenly Father. What do you think about the Father in Heaven "running" towards sinners, "throwing arms" around them and "kissing" them?

  2. The Faithful Son

    1. Read Luke 15:25. What is the older son doing? (He is working! Always faithful!)

    2. Read Luke 15:26-30. Was the older son complaining about his own work and his own obedience?

      1. Do you think the older son envied the younger son?

      2. Is there sibling rivalry here in that the older son wished he had done what the younger son did?

        1. Did the younger son now wish he had the sense to do what the older son did?

      3. 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?

      4. What do you think was the older son's reason for 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.)

      5. 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?

      6. 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.)

    3. 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 yours.)

      1. Is that what our Heavenly Father offers to His faithful? (Yes!)

    4. 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?

      1. Do you have trouble believing you are a child of the Heavenly Father?

  3. A Tale of Two Sisters

    1. Read Luke 10:38-42. Imagine 13 men came to dinner at your house. How would you react?

    2. Who is more like the older son, Mary or Martha?

    3. 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!).)

      1. 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).

      2. Who do you identify with? Mary or Martha?

        1. 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 Mary.)

        2. Was Martha's complaint in verse 40 like the complaint of the older son? ("Don't you care?")

        3. How are Mary and the younger son alike? (They are both drawn to Jesus/the Father -- not out of a sense of obligation, but a sense of need.)

  4. The Lesson of the Siblings

    1. Is there a common lesson to be learned from these two stories?

      1. 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?

      2. 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?

      3. These lessons show our Heavenly Father's preoccupation with us turning to Him!

    2. 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?

  5. Next Week: Children Showcased

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