How to Save a Live
- sheets of paper, cut in quarters
- flip chart or newsprint
Overview: Luke 9:23-25-The path to life leads through death to self.
Open by playing Telephone Pictionary. Sit in a circle. Give every person a pen and a stack of quartered pieces of paper equal to the number of participants in the group (if you have eight people in your group, give each person eight sheets of paper). Tell them to each write a famous saying or phrase (for example, “A penny saved is a penny earned” or “It’s a small world after all”) on the top sheet of paper. Then, when everyone is done, have kids pass all their sheets of paper to the person on their left. The next person reads the saying on the top sheet, puts it on the bottom of the pile, and then draws a picture of the saying on the next sheet of paper. When everyone is done, have kids pass all their sheets of paper again to the left. The next person looks only at the picture on the top sheet, puts it on the bottom of the pile, and then writes what he or she thinks is the saying or phrase depicted on the top sheet. The game continues this way until kids each get their stack of original sheets back.
Have kids each read aloud their original phrase and compare it to the final “translation.” Then ask: Why did we get such crazy results with this? After kids respond, say something like: The picture got crazier the further away it got from the creator. The same is true for us. Our lives tend to get crazier the further away we get from our Creator. The more we listen to the way others “interpret” who we are, the more inaccurate a picture we get of ourselves.
Pull out a flip chart or tape a sheet of newsprint to a wall, and then say: Each one of us, including me, desperately wants to know the answer to this question: Who am I? Write the question on the top of the chart.
Ask: How are the voices around you-the influences in your life-telling you to answer this question? Write kids’ answers on the flip chart or newsprint. Possible answers include: You are what your gifts are; what others say you are; what your grades are; what you wear; what you eat; or what you think, say, and feel you are.
Say something like: The reason that none of the answers we wrote truly satisfies is that no one, not even us, has a completely accurate view of who we are. The only way to really get a true answer is to ask our Creator. That’s why the Bible says there’s one way to find the answer: Get to know Jesus. Follow him, and he’ll lead you to your true self. But I don’t want to give you a wrong impression about your journey with Jesus. If you truly follow Jesus, you’re going to die.
Pause to let what you’ve said sink in. Then say: You were born into a broken world. And like it or not, you’re broken too. You were born as a distorted version of your true self. And if Christ hadn’t come, you and I would live our whole lives never becoming what we were meant to be. Not just our whole lives, but eternity-we’d be eternally separated from God. Separation from God is another way to describe hell.
Read aloud Luke 9:23-25 as kids follow along. Then ask: What does Jesus mean when he says we have to lose our life to save it? How is it possible to do what Jesus is saying we need to do?
Read aloud verse 25 again; then say something like: Notice the last word-“self.” Jesus is saying that we could spend our whole lives serving our distorted selves, and even if we gained the entire world, it would not be enough make us who we truly are. But through Christ we have a choice. I guess the logical question is “What must we do?”
Ask: Look back at our Scripture passage (Luke 9:23-25)-how does Jesus answer the “What must we do?” question? What are specific examples of “denying ourselves” and “taking up our cross”?
After teenagers respond, say something like: Jesus says we can die to our distorted selves by denying that “self.” And it’s clear this will be a daily journey, not a one-time commitment. But all journeys begin with a first step.
Read aloud Galatians 2:20, and then say: We each have a choice-we can live our lives the way we think is best, or we can let our distorted selves die on the cross of Christ and trust Jesus that he will give us the new life that fuels our true identity.
Tell kids to find a quiet place to be alone so that they can really weigh the cost and consider making a choice. In 10 minutes or so, call them back and close in prayer.
- access to a computer and the Internet
- flip chart or newsprint
Overview: Mark 14:32-42-God’s will means choosing to do what he wants you to do.
Form two groups. Have a contest to see which group can come up with most (or all) of the Ten Commandments in two minutes. After two minutes, go back and forth between teams, crossing off duplicates until there’s a winner.
Reveal on a flip chart or covered sheet of newsprint a pre-written list of the Ten Commandments. Ask: It’s hard enough to remember the Ten Commandments, but what makes it really hard to actually obey them? After kids respond, go down the list explaining each one with relevant examples, if necessary.
Then ask: How many of these commandments do you think I’ve broken? After kids respond, say something like: Actually, I’ve broken more than you think. Go down the list of commandments and tell, without going into detail, any that you’re comfortable confessing. (When you get to murder, you can quote Jesus in Matthew 5:21-22. Likewise, with adultery, you can quote Matthew 5:27-28).
Say: Just in case you think you might be okay because you’ve kept one or two or five of the commandments, listen to what the Apostle James says: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10). The fact is we’ve all broken the law; we’re all guilty; we all desperately need a Savior. And that’s precisely why Jesus died on the cross-it was the only way that we could be saved.
Show kids a video montage of Passion of the Christ, found on YouTube at http://youtube.com/watch?v=Bw4ciqdynKY.
Then ask: What emotions do you feel after watching this video? Would those emotions be any different if you’d actually been one of Jesus’ disciples?
Say something like: In this study we’ll look at the moment Jesus denied himself and took up his cross. Jesus and the disciples had just finished their final dinner together. Judas had already left to betray him. And Jesus had taken his disciples to a garden called Gethsemane to pray about what was happening.
Read aloud Mark 14:32-42 as teenagers follow along.
Then ask: Based on what we’ve read, what do you think is going on inside Jesus? What do you notice about Jesus’ relationship with his Father from what we’ve read? Jesus says, “Not what I will, but what you will”-could this mean that Jesus and God want two different things? Why or why not?
Say something like: I think this is a picture of what denying self means. Jesus is showing us what doing God’s will means-he had a choice of giving in to the extreme emotions he was feeling, or doing what his Father asked him to do. This week, let’s live out God’s will. It will not come naturally. It will take continuous denial of self. But in Christ not only do we have an example, we also have the gift of his presence within us to help us.
Ask kids to get with a partner and brainstorm one way they can live out God’s will this week. Tell them to keep their ideas a secret until they can report back next week.
Looking for Trouble
- three computers that have Internet access
- work sheets
- quote handouts
Overview: John 15:18-25 and John 16:33-Suffering is part of our journey with Christ.
Form three teams and give each one a work sheet. Send Group 1 to a computer. Tell them to explore the Website persecutionblog.com and answer the questions on their work sheet. Send Group 2 to do the same thing their assigned Website – site-persecution.org. Send Group 3 to a third computer to read Chapter 1 of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs at ccel.org/f/foxe/martyrs/fox101.htm.
Answer the following questions.
- Write a brief summary of three stories of Christian persecution to share with the other groups.
- Why do you think these men and women were willing to put their lives on the line for Jesus?
- Where is Jesus and what is he doing when all this stuff is happening?
- Why does God allow persecution to happen?
- Why do so many people hate Christians so much?
Give teenagers 15 to 20 minutes to complete this activity. Then gather and have them share what they’ve learned and discussed.
Say something like: The Bible talks a lot about persecution. We don’t have time to look at everything Jesus says about it-he was always reminding his followers that they’d face suffering and persecution.
Read aloud John 15:18-25; then ask: What do you think verse 22 means? Why did God make people who he knew would hate him and persecute his followers? If we’re not suffering persecution, does that mean we’re not really following Jesus? Why or why not?
Read aloud the following quote from Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom: “You may never know that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have.”
Then ask: What does this quote mean? How do people who suffer relate to Jesus differently from those who don’t? Does suffering always lead to greater intimacy with Jesus? Why or why not?
Say something like: Jesus never promises a pain-free or easy life. In fact, he promises the opposite. If you follow Christ, you’ll suffer persecution, pain, trials, and trouble of all kinds. Guaranteed. It’s part of the deal. Trials will find us. And when they do, let’s fight the temptation to run. Instead, let’s stay there and meet with Jesus.
Close in prayer, thanking Jesus for suffering for us, praying that he would enter into our suffering.