By Luke Johnson | January 1, 2013
What is the single most coolest experience you’ve ever had in your life? (Like, “This one time I went to the Grand Canyon and saw an alien wrestling with a kangaroo…”) Tell us about it.
If you had a million dollars right now and could do anything you want with it, what would you do? Where would you go? What would you buy?
READ Luke 15:11-32
Did anything pop out at you as you read this story?
The younger son in this story (let’s call him “Bad Decision Bill”) was given a huge amount of money. What did he do with it?
What happened next that made his exciting life fall apart?
What about you? Have you ever had something great going only to have the rug pulled out from under you? Tell us about it.
What plan did Bad Decision Bill make to fix his situation?
What did Bill think his dad would do when he got home?
Have you ever been afraid your dad (or mom) would be really angry with you? What happened?
How did Bad Decision Bill’s dad actually react when Bill came home?
What got Bill’s older brother (let’s call him “Big Brother Bob”) so angry? How does Big Brother Bob justify his anger?
Why do you think Luke tells this story? Who do you think “Bad Decision Bill” and “Big Brother Bob” represent in this story? (Hint: look at Luke 15:1-2)
Jesus is talking to the people who are supposed to understand God - the Pharisees and teachers of the law. They’re grumbling against Jesus because he hangs out with people who don’t seem to care about obeying God’s laws. Jesus tells this story to remind these grumblers that God cares very deeply for even the tax collectors and “sinners,” and is willing to go to pretty wild ends to show his love for them. (Keep Bad Decision Bill’s story in your mind as we read the next passage…)
READ Colossians 1:21-23
What sticks out in your mind when you read this passage?
What do you think being “alienated” means?
What do you think about the phrase “you were God’s enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior”? What kind of behavior makes you enemies with God?
In verse 22, Paul said that God “reconciled you” by Christ’s physical body. What does “reconcile” mean? (Think about Bad Decision Bill…)
What is Paul talking about when he refers to “Christ’s physical body”?
Something huge just happened! In verse 21 we were God’s enemies, but at the end of verse 22 we became “holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” What caused this change?
Does anything about this remind you of the Bad Decision Bill story we read in Luke?
How is Bill’s father similar to God? What does God do in Colossians (1:22) that sounds like what Bill’s father did?
Bill’s story could’ve had a really bad ending. He was starving. If he refused to acknowledge how much he needed his dad’s help, he would’ve died of hunger while watching the pigs eat their fill.
Do you think Bill’s dad ever stopped loving him while he was out in the world, wasting the money he gave him? (Think about how Bill’s dad greeted him when he came back home.)
How do you think God feels about us when we mess up and do something mean or wrong?
(Is he really angry with us?)
How can we learn from Bad Decision Bill?
What’s our job when we realize we’re far away from God and into a bunch of bad stuff?
What can we expect from God when we turn around and ‘head home’ like Bill did?
The season of Lent is all about turning around and following after Jesus again. It’s really easy to get distracted or lost. Sometimes it is extremely difficult to follow Jesus, because sometimes being a Christian is unpopular or just plain hard. But no matter how far you wander away, God is always waiting for you to come back, and ready to party to celebrate you coming home again.