EPISODE 04: God Will Forgive
Unit 02: Jesus & His Teachings
Luke 15:11-32; Romans 8:15

Jesus told His story about a loving father because some religious leaders were upset that Jesus spent so much time with sinners. People like … well, like us.

Like Jesus’ tax collector acquaintances, we’re sinners who, without Jesus, are lost. And when you’re lost and can’t find your way home, the degree to which you’re lost doesn’t really matter. You need help.

Today we’ll GET INTO what Jesus says about making our way home—and who and what are waiting for us there. After the video, we’ll TALK IT UP and ACT IT OUT, discovering that while God knows our sins, He’s more than a distant judge, cosmic power, or absentee landlord who made earth and then wandered off to work on other projects. He’s our Father. Our loving Father.

So, get comfortable and watch “A Loving Father.” It’s a story you’ll never forget!

Play Video

In today’s video Jesus teaches His disciples—and us—about forgiveness. Use these questions to TALK IT UP and dig into what Jesus, in God’s Word, tells us about forgiveness:

  • Given what you see in this story, how would you define forgiveness? Do you think everyone defines it the same way? Why or why not?
  • Where do you see forgiveness in this story? Where do you see a lack of forgiveness?
  • The younger son apologized to his father. How important is an apology when it comes to forgiving someone? Can you forgive someone who doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong?
  • The younger son says he’s sinned against both Heaven (God) and his earthly father. In what way is a sin against another person also a sin against God? What’s the connection?
  • At first glance who reminds you most of yourself: the father, the younger son, or the older son? Why?

There are a lot of moving parts in this story, so keep your eye on the father. He’s at the very heart of what’s happening in this family drama.

Jesus provides few details about the man. We know he’s wealthy enough to have servants and we know he has 2 grown sons, but that’s about it. Everything else we learn about him we learn through his actions.

The father is approached by his younger son who demands an inheritance, which is a little like saying “I wish you were dead, Dad.” Instead of kicking his kid to the curb, the father complies. The next time we see the father, he’s running to embrace his younger son in a flurry of hugs and kisses. A robe is brought, a feast prepared, and forgiveness given.

What was lost is returned. What was dead is alive again.

That’s a loving father—and the perfect picture of our Father God. Just like Jesus pays the price for our sins, this father pays the price for the younger son’s rebellion. That lost property and squandered money will never be returned. And just as God’s love is ever reaching out to us, this father never gives up hope for his son’s return; he’s quick to spot his son on the road.

Perhaps most important of all: this Father forgives, just as our heavenly Father can be trusted to forgive us when we confess (admit where we’re at fault) and repent (with God’s help, change our ways).

Through forgiveness, God is able to make something beautiful out of the most ruined life when given the chance. His forgiveness paves the way to new life and fresh beginnings.


Choose 1 (or more) of the following “forgiveness finders” and give it a try!

  • Think about someone you’ve wronged in some way. A harsh word. A harsh action. Whatever it was, go to the person and confess, just like the younger son confessed. Admit you’ve sinned against the person and God, and then ask to be forgiven.
  • Forgive someone who’s wronged you—even if the person doesn’t ask for forgiveness. If you suffered a loss (for instance, someone broke something of yours), don’t demand repayment.
  • Find or make a ring—even if it’s one made of yarn. Wear it for a few days and let it remind you of this: like the younger son who strayed but was welcomed home by his father, your heavenly Father welcomes you home too.
  • Discover how forgiveness can make something beautiful in your life! Curious? Gather with others to explore Forgiveness Crumples.
These questions will help you connect the Bible story to your own lives. Use all the questions or pick 1 or 2—your choice!
  • God promises to forgive people who repent of sin—who ask for His help to change what’s sinful in their lives. That’s a good thing! But are there people you think even God has trouble forgiving? If so, who and why?
  • Why do you think God is so forgiving? What, if anything, is in it for Him?
  • People have said, “never explain and never apologize or ask for forgiveness.” In your view, how good is that advice? Why do you answer as you do?
  • It can be awkward to ask for forgiveness. When you do, how do you go about it? What advice would you give others who ask for forgiveness?
  • When you forgive, how important is it that you feel like forgiving someone? Is it OK to just decide to do it no matter how you feel, or do you have to feel like doing it too?
  • Given what you’ve heard in this episode, what leads you to believe God will forgive you and others? What questions do you still have about God forgiving people?

Forgiveness matters! That’s why you’ll pray for people who forgive others, people who need forgiveness, and people who need to forgive others. You’ll pray for God to forgive you too.

Ask those who will be praying to spread out around the room and sit comfortably. Explain that you’ll be leading them in prayer by suggesting how they’ll position their hands and who they’ll silently pray for. (Note: This activity can be done individually or with partners.)

Lead the prayer time, giving these directions, one at a time. Pause between each prayer point to allow time for praying.

  • First, hold your hands up, as if praising God. Think of a person you know who forgives others. Praise God for the example of that person.
  • Form fists with your hands. Think of someone who needs to let go and forgive another person. Maybe someone who is angry with others and would be happier if he or she forgave others. Pray that the person chooses to forgive and finds freedom in forgiveness.
  • Next, press your hands together, palm to palm. Think of someone who needs to learn about God’s forgiveness. Ask God to help you tell the person about God’s love and His promise to forgive them.
  • Now cup your hands together as if you’re receiving something. Silently confess your sins to God and ask to receive His forgiveness. God will forgive you!
  • Finish by saying, “In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

God will forgive—just as the loving father in Jesus’ story forgave. We can come to God, admitting what we’ve done wrong and asking Him to help us change our ways. God will forgive, or erase, our sins. He’ll make us clean—like we’ve never had any sin at all (1 John 1:9). Wow!

Helping others discover what it means to receive God’s forgiveness is a gift to anyone who hears the message for the 1st time or the 5,000th time. Here are a few ideas for sharing with others what you’ve discovered about God forgiving us.

  • On a sheet of paper write: “Forgiveness Spoken Here. Knock to Talk.” Hang the paper on the door of your bedroom. Make sure you mean it—you don’t know who’ll show up or what you’ll hear. Ask God to give you a forgiving heart like the heart He has for you. Be ready to talk about your loving heavenly Father to anyone who asks what your sign means.
  • Sing a song about forgiveness. (“Amazing Grace” is a great option.) If you don’t know a forgiveness song, make one up. Invite others in your family or circle of friends to join you.
  • Using sidewalk chalk, write this message for anyone passing by to see: “God forgives!” Pray that God will lead people who need that truth to pass by where you’ve chalked it.
  • Find 1 John 1:9 in a Bible and print it on a piece of paper. Tape the paper to (or near) the shower door. What better place to remember that God is faithful to forgive our sins and to cleanse us of the things we’ve done that are wrong.

Use the hashtag #GodInAction so we can see how you’re sharing the good news of God’s forgiveness! (Though you’ll want to take a picture of the shower door before anyone’s washing up inside!)