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

        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

      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

      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

      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

      3. Tell me about the state of his sibling
        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

      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”

  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

    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

        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

        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

      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
        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