Parable of the Prodigal Son Sunday School Lesson for Kids -
God Welcomes the Lost
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Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach kids about how God forgives us and how we should forgive others.
Needed: Bibles, Bible trivia questions, Forgiveness vs. Judgment cards
Intro Game: Forgiven MuchIn this game show, you’ll divide your students into two teams. The first student from each team comes forward to answer a question. You’ll read the question, and listen for both of their answers. They can each answer one time.
The first student to get the correct answer incurs no negative points for their team. If one or both of the students answer incorrectly, or if one student answered correctly but not fast enough to answer first, they roll a die. The number on the die represents how many sins the team has against them. Write the number on the board.
The first student to answer correctly can then roll a die to see how many sins their team is forgiven of. Deduct this number of points from their total on the board.
If either of the students answered incorrectly, they can also roll a die and deduct that number of sins from their total.
Play until every student has had a chance to answer and roll. The team with the lowest number of sins on the board wins.
LessonRead Luke 15:11-24, or summarize it with the following story.
Summary StoryJesus told a story that went something like this: There once was a rich man who had two sons. Both of the sons would get half of the father’s money when he died.
But the younger son said he didn’t want to wait until his father died. He wanted his half of the money now. So, the father gave it to him.
The younger son took his half of the money and went to another country. He used his money to throw parties and to drink too much beer and do all sorts of other bad things. Then, he ran out of money. He had spent it all and didn’t know what to do. He didn’t even have enough money to buy food so that he could eat.
He went and got a job on a farm, taking care of pigs. It was a gross job because the pigs were always so dirty and smelly. But the younger son was so hungry that he wanted to eat the pigs’ food.
Finally, he decided, “I’m going to go back to my father. I’ll tell him, ‘Father, I’m sorry I went away and wasted all of the money you gave me. I don’t deserve to be your son anymore, but can I please work for you?”
So, the son started walking back home. When he was almost there, his father saw him coming and ran down the road to meet him. His father hugged him and kissed him because he was so glad that his son had come home.
Then, the son said, “Father, I’m sorry I went away and wasted all of the money you gave me. I don’t deserve to be your son anymore.”
But the father said, “Quick! Someone get the best robe and put it on my son. Put a ring on his finger and give him sandals for his feet. And let’s celebrate tonight! My son was dead, but now he’s alive again. He was lost, but now he’s found.”
Sometimes, we’re like the younger son who went away and did all those bad things, because we do bad things too. But what did the father do when the son came home? (He ran to meet him, hugged and kissed him, gave him the best clothes to wear, and threw a party to welcome him home.)
Was the father mad at the son, or did the father forgive the son? (He forgave him and was happy that he came home.)
Jesus said that’s how God is with us. Sometimes, we go away from God and do wrong things, but when we come back to God and say we’re sorry, God forgives us, just like the father in the story forgave his son. God is always happy when we come back to Him.
Story continues...Read Luke 15:25-32 or summarize it with the following story.
Summary Story (part 2)Everyone was celebrating the younger son coming home, but the older son was still out working in the farm field. When he got close to the house, he heard the sound of music and celebrating. He asked one of the workers, “What is going one?”
The worker said, “Your younger brother came back home, and everyone is celebrating.”
The older brother got mad then and wouldn’t go in the house. The father came out and asked the older son what was wrong. The older son said, “I’ve always been a good son, but you never threw a party for me. But now that your bad son has come home, you’re throwing a party for him! It’s not fair.”
The father said, “I know you’re a good son, and I’m glad to have you, but I had to throw a party because I was so happy that your brother came home.”
Did the father forgive the younger son when he came home? (Yes.)
Do you think the older son should forgive his younger brother? (Yes.)
Just like God forgives us, He wants us to forgive other people too. He wants everyone to forgive everyone and not to fight anymore.
So, if we believe in God, we have to forgive people when they do wrong things to us, just like the older brother has to forgive the younger brother in the story.
Game: Forgiveness vs. JudgmentPrint out or write the words Forgiveness or Judgment on a set of index cards. You should have an equal number of cards that say Faith as Fear.
Divide students into two teams, and have the teams line up on separate sides of the room in single file lines. Mix up the cards and give each student a card that says Forgiveness or Judgment. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes, depending on how many students you have. When you say, “Go!” the first two students run toward each and show each other their cards.
If one says Forgiveness and the other says Judgment, the student with Forgiveness scores a point for their team. The person with Judgment does not score. If both say Forgiveness, both score a point, and if both say Judgment, neither does. Both return to the back of their lines and trade their cards for a new card.
As soon as they leave the center, the second two players run up and do the same thing. Play continues until the timer runs out. The team with the most points at the end wins.
Prayer Activity: Praying for Our EnemiesLead students in praying for one person they consider an enemy. Guide them in moving through these steps in their silent prayer time:
1. Tell Jesus what the person did that made you not like them.
2. Ask Jesus to help you forgive that person.
3. Pray for that person.
4. Ask Jesus to help you think of something nice you can do for that person.
Closing PrayerFather God, we thank You for forgiving us when we do something wrong, just like the father in the story forgave his son. And we pray that You’ll help us to forgive other people when they do wrong things too. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Recommended ExtrasThe Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible – for telling the stories with beautiful artwork and Biblical accuracy
The Beginner’s Bible: Timeless Stories for Children – for telling the stories to younger children
Jesus in the Spotlight and Jesus – Awesome Power, Awesome Love (Discover 4 Yourself series) – in-depth Bible study books for older children based on John 1-10 and John 11-16
The Lost Son – free coloring and activity pages
Three Wishes – free object lesson, along with free coloring and activity pages