This parable told by Jesus is a third part to the two that precede it, the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin. In all three something or someone is lost, looked for, found and then rejoiced over. In this story the son represents the lost sinner who repents, the father represents our compassionate God, and the brother represents the attitude of the Pharisees. It is important for us to understand that God has compassion for everyone, no matter how bad/lost they have been. Anyone can be forgiven if they truly repent. Likewise, we who have also experienced forgiveness and life in Christ should rejoice when others come to Christ.
“In his great mercy he has given us… an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you!”
– 1 Peter 1.3a, 4 (NIV) Continue reading The Prodigal Son
God has given each of us resources and opportunities to serve him and to live our lives for him. Each one of us can choose to live our lives for him or to waste our opportunities like the foolish servant did in this story. Whatever gift God has given you should be used to glorify him.
- God wants us to be faithful with what he’s given us.
- It’s not about how much you’ve been given, it’s what you do with it.
Continue reading The 3 Stewards (Matt 25.14-30)
One day Jesus will return and his kingdom will be revealed in it’s fullness. It will be a wonderful time of celebration for those who have trusted in Jesus, but the door will be closed for those who have refused to acknowledge him. Without Jesus it’s impossible to be ready. With him, and the empowering gift of the Holy Spirit, we can be ready, and have our lamps burning when he returns!
- God wants us to be prepared for the day of his return.
- Trusting in Jesus is the best way to be ready.
Continue reading Waiting for the Wedding (Matt. 25.1-13)
Forgiveness plays a huge role in our relationship with God, and our relationship with others. The way we treat those around us is a reflection of our relationship with our King. This parable shines a light on the huge disconnect that exists when we fail to acknowledge how God has extended his great mercy toward us. We want the children to see that part of kingdom living is having the freedom in Christ to let go of grudges and forgive those who sin against us.
- God forgives those who come to him and ask for mercy.
- It’s foolish to refuse to forgive someone when God has forgiven us.
Continue reading The Unmerciful Servant (Matt. 18.21-35)
- All believers are recipients of God’s riches in Christ.
- We should be grateful for God’s generosity toward us.
Our shortsighted tendency is to only value others for what they can accomplish for us, or how they can benefit us. The world reveres those who have wealth and have influence. In Matthew 19 Jesus debunks the perceived merit of wealth and influence; firstly by inviting the children to come to him and then by stating how hard it is for the wealthy to enter the kingdom. He goes on to tell the parable of the generous Master, showing that God loves all people and graciously offers grace and kindness to everyone who responds to his invitation, not just those who are esteemed in the eyes of the world.
Continue reading Workers and Wages (Matt. 20.1-16)
God loves his children and it brings him joy to have us close to him. Jesus told this really simple parable to show us that God diligently pursues those who are far from him and and that he celebrates when we are restored to relationship with him! In this lesson we’ve sandwiched the parable between two variations of the parable that are more relatable from a child’s perspective.
- Some people are lost because they have walked away from God.
- God still loves those people and celebrates when they turn back to him!
Continue reading The Lost Coin (Luke 15.4-10)
There are times when a life-changing opportunity comes your way that would be foolish to pass up. Jesus uses two examples of people coming across items of untold value and then trading everything they had to lay hold of those things. There is nothing as valuable or important as accepting Jesus as our king and faithfully following him. When we understand the value of the kingdom we see everything as an opportunity to see God’s kingdom come. We want our children to understand that following Jesus affects every area of their lives!
- Nothing is more valuable or more important than God’s kingdom.
- Jesus gave everything so that we could have relationship with God.
Continue reading Finding Treasure (Matt. 13.44-46)
The parable of the sower is the only parable for which Jesus offered an in-depth interpretation. The main point at the end of the parable is that our response to God’s word depends on the condition of the soil of our hearts. When our hearts are committed to Jesus then his teachings take root and we become fruitful. We all want the children that we teach to receive God’s word in faith and to grow in their relationship with the Lord. This is a great opportunity to help them see that they can nurture their faith by being aware of the things that interfere with spiritual growth.
- Our relationship with Jesus grows like a seed.
- We respond to God’s word by hearing and following Jesus.
Continue reading Seeds and Soils (Luke 8.4-15)
Jesus helps his followers understand that gathering material wealth doesn’t gain you anything in the kingdom of heaven. It’s possible to have material wealthy but have a heart that is far from God. God’s intention for us is that we would be rich toward him, meaning that we don’t base our decisions purely on what we can gain and we don’t put our confidence in material possessions. We want to communicate to the children that the things we have are a gift from God and should be used in a way that honors God.
- Being rich toward God is more important than the stuff we have.
- Everything we have is a gift from God.
Continue reading The Rich Fool (Luke 12.13-21)
Jesus helps his followers understand that the kingdom of God isn’t driven by religious ritual but rather by love. Sometimes we try to look for excuses to not love and care for others. God wants us to see that there are no limits to who should be our neighbor. Imagine a world in which everybody treated others in the way that they would want to be treated! This lesson is designed for elementary aged kids.
- Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
- God wants us to love all people.
Continue reading The Good Samaritan (Luke 10.25-37)