|Sermon Studies

Small Group Sermon Series Parables Of Jesus - Session 2

Sermon: A Tale of Two Sons

Speaker: Rich Villodas

Date: August 6, 2017

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Luke 15:1-2, 11-26 [NIV]

1Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.

2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons.

12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.

14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.

15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.

16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!

18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’

20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.

24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.

26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.

27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’


Typically when we hear the word “parable” we think of an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. The word in Hebrew is “mashal” which has a range of meanings covering riddle, fables, proverbs, metaphors, and stories and really points to Jesus’ creativity in communication. Parables were used to offer words of grace and judgment. This well known parable of the prodigal son is often perceived to be a story of repentance and grace but the story is essentially about being dead and the importance of being dead. Grace only comes to dead people.

Opening Questions

  1. What thoughts or feelings come to mind when you think about death or dying? How did your family of origin respond to death and dying?
  2. Which character in the story do you most relate to in this season?

  1. The father, who the youngest son has essentially wished dead by demanding his share of the inheritance, runs towards and embraces his son who comes home disheveled, smelling of pigs. What a picture of grace! How have you seen God move towards you first before you were “cleaned up” or repentant?
  2. Where do you wrestle with believing God loves you like this father in the parable?

  1. Harvie Conn says, “The longer you are in the church the more you can resemble the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son.” If you have been a churchgoer for some time, how does this statement resonate with you?
  2. The prodigal son story is one about death. The father is dead in the sense of having given away his inheritance before death, the son has died in losing all claim to his father’s love by what he has done, the fatted calf is killed. How has death played a part in your journey of knowing and walking with God?
  3. In the sermon, Pastor Rich says “To be spiritually dead is an attempt to make ourselves alive on our own terms. To be spiritually alive is to make ourselves alive on God’s terms.”

To be dead is to lay down the false self we have constructed.

To be dead is to lay down our need for control.

To be dead is to be vulnerable, honest about our sin problem, refusing to have the values of the world to shape our lives.

To be dead is to refuse to be alive according to my own terms.

In our interactions with people, to be dead means often not having the last word.

  1. Are you dead? Where do you need to die or lay down your way so that you can open yourself up to God’s grace and power?


  1. Where and how have you seen life come out of dying to your self-will and following God’s will?
  2. Where do you want to let go of a sense of righteousness based on your works and embrace Jesus’ invitation to come and die?
  3. What practices will help you live as one spiritually alive rather than spiritually dead (see question 7 above)?

Pray Together

  • Take time for corporate confession of the ways you can be prone to resist Jesus’ invitation to die and be alive on your own terms.
  • Follow up on any pending prayer requests from the previous session and share any new prayer requests.