1. When the younger son tells his father, “Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me,” he is essentially saying, “Father, you are dead to me. I don't care about you, but I want your property and your money.” This was an extremely disrespectful, hurtful thing for a son to tell his father.
2. The father gives his son the money and allows him to go on his way. Jesus does not tell us that the father argues with his son or tries to change his mind. The father would have recognized the uselessness of such efforts. So despite the hurt, he lets the young man go.
3. The son wastes everything...his entire inheritance. That shows a strong commitment to “a life of dissipation.” The Greek word for “dissipation” is asōtōs, which refers to a life spent in riotous excess. The word is an adverb that derives from the adjective asōtos, meaning not savable or abandoned. This young man is living a life of wild abandonment, a life that seems beyond salvation.
4. Finally, with all his money gone, the son falls on hard times. He has nothing, no money, no family, no job, no income, no food, no friends, not even his self respect, for he has hired himself out to a local citizen, who sent him to tend the swine. He is as low as a young man can get.
5. The young man is so hungry that he wants to eat the pigs' food, but no one gives him any. Why doesn't he just take some of these husks (probably edible pods from the carob tree)? Does he, even after all his sins, still have some sense of morality, some level of honor?
6. Finally, the starving son decides to take some action. He remembers how his father's hired men had plenty to eat, so he decides to return to his father. He plans to go to him, acknowledge his sins, and take a new position in his father's household, not as a son but as a hired worker. Is the young man really sorry for his sins, or is he merely so hungry that he's forced to take the only action he can think of? Does he have mixed motives?
7. The father must have been keeping watch for his son, for he notices him from a long way off. He has never given up the hope that he might someday return.
8. The father runs to his son. This would have been shocking to Jesus' hearers. Distinguished adult men simply did not run. The father doesn't care what he looks like, for he has caught sight of his son.
9. The father doesn't even wait for his son to speak. He is already filled with compassion. He embraces his son and kisses him. When the son finally gets out the words he has planned to say, the father completely ignores him. He is already ordering the servants to prepare for a welcome-home celebration.
10. The older son is definitely peeved when he comes home to discover a party in honor of his brother well underway. He feels slighted, left out, like all his obedience and respect has been in vain. He will not even enter the house, so his father comes out and pleads with him. The father reminds his eldest son that everything he has is and has always been his son's, too, and he encourages him to recognize that his brother was once dead but now is alive, was lost but now is found.
11. Does the older brother enter the house? Does his father finally convince him? What would you have done?
12. Which character in the parable do you identify with the most? Why?