Youth Group Lesson The Prodigal Son’s Older Brother: Examining the Dangers of Self-Righteousness and the Need for Grace Luke 15:11-32

Today, we’re diving into a powerful parable from the Bible, the story of the Prodigal Son’s Older Brother. You might be thinking, “What can a story from ancient times teach us about our lives today?” Well, you’re about to find out!

Teenage years are a time of growth, self-discovery, and navigating the challenges of peer pressure, expectations, and identity. In the midst of all this, it’s easy to fall into the trap of self-righteousness, thinking we’ve got it all together while passing judgment on others. But Jesus’ parable reminds us that we all need grace and humility.

So, let’s explore this story together, and discover how it can help us grow in our faith and relationships with others.

The Prodigal Son’s Story (Luke 15:11-32)

Bible Reading: Luke 15:11-16

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.

Explanation For Teenagers:

  • In this story, we meet a younger son who wants his share of the inheritance and leaves his father’s house to live recklessly.
  • He squanders his wealth and eventually faces the consequences of his choices, working with pigs, a job considered unclean in his culture.

Youth Group Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever made a choice that you later regretted? What were the consequences?
  2. How do you think the younger son felt when he realized he had nothing left?

Bible Reading: Luke 15:17-24

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.

21 “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.

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

23 “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. 24 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.

Explanation For Teenagers:

  • The younger son realizes his mistakes and decides to return to his father, not as a son, but as a servant.
  • However, his father, full of love and compassion, welcomes him back with open arms and a grand celebration.

Youth Group Discussion Questions:

  1. How do you think the father’s response reflects God’s love and grace toward us when we repent?
  2. Why do you think the father was so quick to forgive and celebrate his son’s return?

The Older Brother’s Reaction (Luke 15:25-32)

Bible Reading: Luke 15:25-30

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.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

Explanation For Teenagers:

  • The older brother, unlike the father, reacts with anger and self-righteousness upon hearing of his brother’s return.
  • He resents the celebration and feels that his years of faithful service have been overlooked.

Youth Group Discussion Questions:

  1. Can you relate to the older brother’s feelings of anger or jealousy? When have you felt overlooked or unappreciated?
  2. What do you think Jesus is trying to teach us through the older brother’s reaction?

The Father’s Response (Luke 15:31-32)

Bible Reading: Luke 15:31-32

31 ” ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ “

Explanation For Teenagers:

  • The father reminds the older son that he has always had his love and blessings.
  • He emphasizes the importance of celebrating his brother’s return, as he was lost but now found.

Youth Group Discussion Questions:

  1. What can we learn from the father’s response to the older brother?
  2. How can we apply this lesson of grace and celebration to our own lives and relationships?

Youth Group Game: “Lost and Found Scavenger Hunt”

  • Hide small items around the church or youth group meeting area.
  • Divide into teams and provide clues to find the hidden items.
  • Emphasize the joy of finding something that was lost, mirroring the theme of the parable.

Closing Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for this time together, as we’ve explored the story of the Prodigal Son and his older brother. We’re grateful for the reminder of your unconditional love and grace. Help us, Lord, to avoid self-righteousness and to always extend grace to others, just as you do for us.

May we celebrate the “lost and found” moments in our lives and remember the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation. Bless each teenager here and guide us in our journey of faith. In Jesus’ name, we pray.


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