Lesson: Three Parables (Luke 15)

February 21, 2011

for Saturday, 26 February 2011 —

Volunteers: Colleen, Lorene, Alyssa, Allyson

Driving: Nora

Topics: lost sheep, lost coin, ‘prodigal’ son

Memory Verse: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11; NIV)


  • (10:00am) together: Matthew 6 “Lord’s prayer
  • review class rules —
  • Sing — [note: Josie is preparing Hymn 34:2 for this week or next]
  • Lorene and Allyson to little lambs room with the 6 or so younger kids. Colleen and Alyssa stay in catechism room with the older group
  • Lesson — (see below)
  • memory verse (see above)
  • Younger group return to catechism room
  • Activities — see below
  • (11:00 am) SNACK/BREAK–
  • (11:20 am) two-team review relay game with questions from today’s class
  • crafts/activities — continued
  • stickers/bookmarks (in bin)
  • Sing
  • Praying: [Colleen or Lorene]
  • (11:50 am) tidy

Extra Materials

  • Lorene is topping up our food supplies: cheese, juice, marshmallows
  • Lorene or Colleen, bring printouts of coloring pages and worksheet from paul
  • New song print and memory verse: Josie
  • Gold chocolate coins for activity: Colleen

Lesson and Discussion

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9; NLT)

1. Background

  • Jesus taught these parables after He had sent the twelve apostles, but before the miracle of Lazarus raised from the tomb
  • Note: the NIRV isn’t clear on this: the reason Jesus told these three parables is because the Pharisees and teachers of the law were grumbling about Jesus receiving sinners and eating with them
  • For this reason, you may wish to remind the kids how Jesus ate dinner at Matthew’s house, after He called Matthew, and there the Pharisees complained about Him associating with sinners

Note: Use Luke 15 (NIRV) as lesson text… only discussion topics are listed below.

2. Discussion Topics

a.) General

  • tax collectors — as we learned in the lesson about the twelve apostles: when Jesus was on the earth, Canaan was under Roman rule — a tax collector was someone who worked for the Romans — these were known to often cheat people; i.e., collect extra money to keep for themselves; what tax collector did we learn about? Matthew, one of the twelve, who Jesus called when he was sitting at the tax collector’s booth/table near the Sea of Galilee — later, Jesus had dinner at Matthew’s house, and other tax collectors were there — these Jewish tax collectors were not well liked, because they often collected more than was reasonable, and probably also because they were collaborating with the Romans
  • why was Jesus hanging around with sinners? — the parables in today’s lesson have a good answer to that question — there is much joy in heaven over a sinner who repents — when Jesus was at Matthew’s house for dinner, He answered that question like this: […] “Those who are healthy don’t need a doctor. Sick people do […] I have not come to get those who think they are right with God to follow me. I have come to get sinners to follow me.” (Matthew 9:12-13; NIRV) — also note that these “sinners” had chosen to gather around Jesus — never had they been accepted by a rabbi as his students!
  • Parable: a short story that has a deeper meaning — Jesus used parables to teach important things; the prophet said, “I will open my mouth and tell stories. I will speak about things that were hidden since the world was made.” (Psalm 78:2)
  • Possible opening discussion: Have you ever been lost? Have you ever lost something precious?

b.) The story of the lost sheep

  • what dangers might await a sheep who wanders away from the flock? — predators, dangerous terrain, thieves
  • what dangers do we face? — Satan, temptation, sin, judgment — what about dangers to God’s message in our hearts? from the story of the farmer/soils, we learned that Satan steals God’s message from some people’s hearts before they even believe, that others fall away from the faith when there is trouble or suffering because of the message, and that some others do not produce fruit, because worries and riches choke out God’s message
  • a sinner who repents — remember John the Baptizer told people to repent; what does it mean to repent? change your mind and change your life — start to live a new life, and that for Christ, because He is Lord — examples of repentance in earlier Bible lessons? yes: we saw Jacob learning and changing a lot, especially starting around when he admitted how much God had helped him when he worked for Laban; who did not repent? Sodom! — what happens to sinners who do not repent? we learned from John the Baptist in an earlier lesson: “God will judge those who do not repent of their sins; yes, He will chop with an ax every tree that does not produce good fruit, and He will throw them into the fire!”
  • that God paid so almighty a price (recall lessons last Easter) to save us, how ought we behave? — it is only reasonable that we worship and obey God forever now — Jesus said, I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11; NIV)
  • do you think it’s difficult or painful for a sheep to be rescued, lifted on the shoulders of the shepherd?Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30; NIV)

c.) The story of the lost coin

Greek silver drachm -- from commons

Greek tetradrachm, from commons (click thru to source)

  • what’s the big deal about losing one silver coin? the drachma was about a day’s wage — and the woman in the story only had ten
  • “she will light a lamp and sweep the house” — what might this look like?
  • how much is a lost coin worth? — zero dollars — While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (from Romans 5:8; NIV)
  • was the coin able to help the woman find it? — no… and so we too depend entirely on the power of Christ to save us

d.) The story of the “lost son”

  • Why was the father waiting for his son? Why did he run to his son? — the Reformation Study Bible indicates that “it was undignified for an older man to lift up his robes and run” — this father had much love and compassion for his son
  • What does this parable teach us about God? — He is willing to forgive — He loves us, even though we have turned away from Him
  • [“my share of the family property” — a cross-reference (Deuteronomy 21:17) shows that the younger son would not receive as much as the firstborn]
  • the attitude of the older son — reminds us of the attitude of the Pharisees who were grumbling about sinners in verse 2 — and were they not sinners also? they just weren’t officially sinners(!); i.e., they ought to have been righteous teachers
  • did the father also love the older son? — yes, for he says, “you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours”

Not long after teaching these three parables, Jesus would visit the house of another tax collector, Zacchaeus, and people would once again grumble about Him associating with sinners.
Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to your house. You are a member of Abraham’s family line. The Son of Man came to look for the lost and save them.” (Luke 19:9-10; NIRV)

  • Today’s three parables apply very well to Zacchaeus and the rest of us like him; notice how Luke 19:10 contrasts with hackneyed “found Jesus” dogmas — indeed, all of these parables show heaven reaching down — false attempts at humility underestimate Christ’s work for us

“Jesus wasn’t lost, I was. I didn’t find Jesus, He found me.” – Kirk Cameron

  • What do you think the Pharisees might have thought when they heard these three stories? — “he loves these ‘sinners'”; “maybe it is possible for these sinners to be saved”
  • Jesus did not explain the deeper meaning of this story — but here we see, as with the first two stories, the joy in heaven over a sinner who repents — we also see God’s love for us — and as the father ran to the son, so we see our Lord coming to this earth to meet us (and that unworthy)

Review Questions

  1. Who heard these stories that Jesus told? (the disciples, tax collectors / sinners, Pharisees / teachers of the law)
  2. What were the Pharisees whispering or grumbling about? (that Jesus welcomed sinners and ate with them)
  3. What did Jesus say would be normal for somebody to do if he lost one of his sheep? (leave the rest to look for the one lost)
  4. Act out the joy of the shepherd who found his lost sheep.
  5. What is the deeper meaning of the parable of the lost sheep? (“There will be great joy when one sinner turns away from sin.”)
  6. What will a woman do when she finds the silver coin that she lost? (She will call her friends and neighbors to celebrate with her.)
  7. What did the younger son do once he got his share of the family property from his father? (He went far away / wasted his money on wild living / spent all of it)
  8. Draw a picture of a pig.
  9. In the story of the lost son, who does the father represent? Who does the son represent?
  10. Why did the younger son return to his father? (He was hungry / he ran out of money / he realized that his father’s servants were better off than he was)
  11. Why did the father run to his returning son? (“He was filled with tender love for his son.”)
  12. Act out the scene where the father welcomes the son home.
  13. Why was the older son irritated by the music and dancing? (He had obeyed his father for years and his father had never given him any special meal with his friends / now his father was holding a celebration for the son who had wasted his money)
  14. Act out the scene where the brother refuses to come in.
  15. What reason did the father give for having the celebration for the younger son? (“This brother of yours was dead. And now he is alive again. He was lost. And now he is found.”)
  16. What is a parable?
  17. What does repentance mean?

Activity/Craft Ideas

  • Colleen’s idea: hide gold chocolate coins and have the kids find them
  • lost sheep craft

2 Responses to “Lesson: Three Parables (Luke 15)”

  1. Grandma has family lessons on the lost sheep and the lost coin. You’ll find them at:

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