by Kelli and David Trujillo
Jesus: Who Do You Say I Am? – The Meaning of Allegiance
Editor’s Note: This is the third of a yearlong series of Bible studies that will help your teenagers answer Jesus’ profound question in Luke 9:18-20—”Who do you say I am?”
(You’ll need Bibles, children’s puzzles, a floor-length mirror, and a dry-erase marker. Use the dry-erase marker to draw jigsaw shapes on the mirror until it looks like a giant puzzle.
Photocopy a handout that reads:
A. Read Matthew 10:1-10. If you were a disciple, what questions would you have about Jesus’ instructions? How would following these instructions impact your normal, everyday life?
B. Jesus told the disciples [in Matthew 10:7] to tell people that the kingdom of heaven is near—what does it mean? (See also Matthew 4:17.)
C. How does this message relate to Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 10:8? Why do you think Jesus asked his disciples to perform these specific miracles?
D. Why do you think Jesus commanded his disciples not to bring any possessions with them on their journeys [Matthew 10:9-10]? How can this command relate to followers of Jesus today?
E. Read Matthew 8:18-22. What is Jesus’ main point? Why do you think the disciples were willing to adopt Jesus’ mission for their own lives, even though they had to give up so much?)
Have teenagers form foursomes—then give each group a children’s puzzle. Ask groups to dump out their puzzles and give them a few minutes to assemble them. Then ask foursomes to discuss this question: How was putting together this puzzle like or unlike what happens when someone commits his or her life to Jesus?
After a few minutes, say something like: Everyone must respond in some way to the claim: “Jesus is God.” For those who reject the idea that Jesus is God, their life continues as it always has, uninterrupted. But for those of us who believe the claim that Jesus is God, our normal life is blown into a million pieces. Slowly, as God begins to put the pieces back together, we see that he’s arranged them in a surprising way. We see a new identity, a new mind-set, and a new mission, all centered on Jesus.
Give a handout to each teenager. Explain that foursomes will have four minutes to discuss a question. When time’s up, you’ll shout “Switch!” and kids should immediately count off 1 through 4 in their group then run to corners 1, 2, 3, or 4. (Indicate the number for each corner of your room.) Teenagers should form new groups of four in the corner area (or with others nearby) and discuss the next question on the handout.
When everyone understands, assign question A and have groups get started. After four minutes, yell “Switch” and assign question B. Continue with this pattern until you’ve covered all the questions.
Ask teenagers to share their thoughts from the discussion; then invite a volunteer to read aloud Matthew 9:35-37. Ask: What is Jesus’ main point here? How does this teaching help you understand the mission of the disciples? Then say something like: Jesus’ mission was not just for the 12 disciples—he also gives us a very clear mission.
Have kids get together with a partner then read together Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8. Then have them discuss: What does this mission look like today? How can you be a harvest-worker for Jesus?
Set up the mirror you prepared before the study. Say something like: Like the disciples, when we recognize Jesus as our king, our “normal” lives are blown to pieces. And God puts them back together in a new way. We now see ourselves with an identity found in Jesus, a mind-set that reflects Jesus’ values, and a new mission. Jesus has a mission for you in this world.
One at a time, have students look at their reflection in the mirror, then use the dry-erase marker to write a word in one of the jigsaw shapes that represents how they’ll live out their mission. Have kids continue writing ideas until every jigsaw shape is filled with a word. Finish the study in prayer by reading aloud the words on the mirror and asking God to fulfill his mission in the world through your teenagers.
(You’ll need Bibles, foam darts, blue and black tempera paint in bowls, paper, pens, a CD player, and an ambient music CD. In addition, print out “History of Christian Martyrs to the First General Persecutions”—find it at http://www.ccel.org/f/foxe/martyrs/fox101.htm [or bring a copy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs]. You’ll also need a large poster with a red target drawn on it. Punch two holes at the top of the poster and tie a piece of yarn through the holes so that the poster can be worn like a sandwich board. Put newspaper on the floor and the wall; then hang the target poster on the wall.)
Invite teenagers to play darts by dipping the end of a foam dart in blue paint and then throwing it at the target poster to leave a paint mark.
After everyone’s had several tries, have the group sit down. Take down the poster and put it around your neck so that you’re wearing the target. Say something like: Sometimes we feel just like this—like we’re being targeted, like people are aiming at us and trying to nail us.
Have teenagers pair up; then discuss: When have you recently felt like a “target” of others? Why were they targeting you?
Have everyone individually read Matthew 10:11-23; then ask teenagers to share words or phrases in the passage that stand out to them. Contribute your own ideas as well.
Say something like: Let’s see what this harsh reality looked like for many first-century Christians. Have a teenager read aloud Hebrews 10:32-34; then say something like: Things got even worse. Ask another teenager to read some of the early martyrdom accounts from the Web printout—”History of Christian Martyrs to the First General Persecutions” (or Foxe’s Book of Martyrs). Then say something like: This is the price the disciples paid for their allegiance to Jesus.
Ask: Why was it “worth it” for the disciples? Why were they willing to live out Jesus’ mission even though they knew they’d face pain and suffering?
Have kids get back with their partners and return to Matthew 10:11-23; then discuss: Is Jesus’ description of the world’s response to Christians true today? See verse 16—What are the “wolves” in our society? See verse 22—Why did people “hate” Christians back then? Why do they hate them now? What advice does Jesus give here for dealing with persecution? What could this mean in today’s terms?
Gather back together and ask: What is it that the world can’t stand about a Christ-follower’s way of living and mind-set? What kingdom-of-God values are in opposition to the world’s values? Is it easy to be a true Christian in your world today? Have you felt targeted because of your faith? Why or why not? What might persecution look like at your school or in your social group?
Say something like: It’s important that we don’t make the mistake of measuring our faith by the degree of persecution we face—often that has a lot to do with a country’s government and culture. But following Jesus means we live differently and proclaim different values than the world—we don’t just blend in. And when we live differently, we will be targeted for persecution in some way, shape, or form.
Play an ambient song and instruct teenagers to quietly ask God to show them what “the cost of discipleship” means to them. Hang up the target poster and stand near it with a dart. Ask volunteers to read aloud the Scripture passages listed below. After each passage, dip the dart in black paint and loudly hit it onto the center of the target. Strategically place the black paint-marks so that at the end they’ll form a black cross in the center of the target. Have volunteers read these passages:
• 1 John 3:13
• Philippians 1:29
• John 15:18-20
• Philippians 3:10-11
• 1 Peter 4:12-16
• 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
• 2 Corinthians 12:10
• Matthew 5:10-12
• Romans 8:35-39
Ask kids to look at the cross as they quietly pray, focusing on their willingness to suffer hardship for the sake of Christ and praying about their desire to live out their faith boldly. (Save the target poster for use in later studies.)
(You’ll need Bibles, paper, pens, a CD player, the Passion Worship Band’s Passion: Hymns Ancient & Modern CD, copies of the hymn lyrics to “O Worship the King” [found at http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/o/w/owtking.htm], markers, and a large newsprint banner divided into two panels. Photocopy a handout that lists several superheroes [such as Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Flash Gordon, and The Incredible Hulk].
Also, photocopy a handout that reads:
1. Read Matthew 10:24-31. When you read this passage, what sticks out to you?
2. What does Matthew 10:24-31 say about Jesus’ power?
3. How do Jesus’ words address some of the thoughts or questions the disciples may have had as they prepared for their new mission [see Matthew 9:35-38, 10:7]? How does this relate to the reality of the hardships they’d face [see Matthew 10:17-23]?
4. Read Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10. What does “fear of the Lord” mean? How does this relate to Matthew 10:28?
5. What does Jesus offer us to help us live out our God-given mission and endure persecution?
6. Practically speaking, how do we really rely on Jesus’ power and not our own strength and abilities when we’re going through hardships?)
Have teenagers form small groups and pass out the superhero lists and pens. Challenge kids to work with their group members to rank the superheroes from most to least powerful.
Have groups explain their rankings and defend their rationale. Then ask: Why are some heroes considered more powerful than others?
Have small groups work together to write a one-sentence definition of “power.” Then ask: How does the idea of “power” compare or contrast with the idea of “authority?” Give groups five minutes to search through the gospels for examples of Jesus demonstrating his power or authority, taking notes together on the instances they find.
Gather together and ask each group to share two examples they found of Jesus’ power and authority. Then read aloud John 1:1-3 and 13:3. Say something like: Jesus is God. He had all the power in the universe! Ask students to prayerfully listen as you read aloud Psalm 104. Then point out the newsprint banner and invite teenagers to worship Jesus by using markers to write examples and descriptions of his power all over the first panel. While they’re writing, play the song “O Worship the King” (track 1) from the Passion Worship Band’s Passion: Hymns Ancient and Modern CD.
Have kids read what’s written on the panel; then ask: How does focusing on Jesus’ power and authority affect you?
Read aloud Matthew 10:1, 8; then ask: What does it mean that Jesus gave his disciples authority over sickness, death, and demons? What do you think went through their heads when they heard this?
Have teenagers get back in their small groups and work through the “Jesus’ Power” handout. Then gather everyone back together and ask kids to share their thoughts from questions five and six.
Say something like: It isn’t easy to live out our mission as Christians or to go through persecution, but we have the power of God on our side!
Read aloud Matthew 28:18-20; then say something like: Jesus is with us as we live for him. Let’s worship him for his power in our lives. Pass out the hymn lyrics and lead the group in reading stanzas one, two, and three aloud together.
Ask kids to quietly pray about their personal response to Jesus’ power and authority. How can they live in greater strength and courage because of Jesus’ power? What risks are they willing to take? While teenagers are praying, write, “Because of Jesus’ power and authority, I can…” on the top of the newsprint banner’s second panel.
When they’re done praying, invite kids to write on the second panel any commitments they want to make to complete the statement written at the top. Again play the song “O Worship the King” (track 1) while kids write. When everyone’s done, read aloud stanzas four, five, and six of the hymn as a closing prayer.
(You’ll need Bibles, Community Chest and Chance cards from a Monopoly game, paper, pens, play money bills [not from Monopoly, as they’ll be destroyed], and a paper shredder or garbage can. Review the Community Chest and Chance cards and pull out any that don’t detail a gain or loss of a specific amount of money. Create bookmarks that read: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”—Jim Elliot. On one side of the room, post a sign reading:
Matthew 10:32-42; 16:24-25
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
On the other side of the room, post a sign reading:
Romans 5:1-5; 6:19-23; 15:13
Philippians 3:7-14; 4:11-13
1 Timothy 6:6-12
Have teenagers form pairs and give each duo paper, a pen, and a $500 play-money bill. At the top of the paper, have pairs write “$500” and then create two columns, labeled “Gains” and “Losses.” Distribute a Monopoly card to each pair. Teenagers should then record their gain (such as +75) or loss (such as -50) in the appropriate column. If a card instructs its holder to collect money from every player, have each pair deduct that amount as a loss and have the card-holding pair add the total amount as a gain. Collect and reshuffle the cards; then repeat this pattern for four more rounds. Afterward, direct pairs to tally up their gains and losses and add or subtract them from $500 to get their final total.
Ask: Who gained the most? Who lost the most? How is this activity like or unlike real life? How is it like following Jesus? Then say something like: When we follow Jesus as our king, we experience both gains and losses.
Collect all the play money, and then have teenagers form groups of four. Have groups read Matthew 10:32-42 and discuss: What’s your initial reaction to this passage? Which verse or phrase stands out to you? What does this have to do with gains or losses?
Ask foursomes to split in half, each sending one pair to either Area 1 or Area 2. Have each pair grab a new piece of paper and again draw Gains and Losses columns. Instruct pairs to read and discuss the Scriptures posted in their area; then take notes in the columns summarizing the gains or losses described in the passages. After 10 minutes, have pairs switch sides and repeat the exercise using the new Scripture passages. After 10 more minutes, have kids get back in their foursomes and compare their Gains and Losses lists.
Ask groups to discuss these questions and add items to their lists: What are other losses that Christians in the world today endure? What are some other gains? What are additional losses or gains that you’ve personally experienced because of your faith in Jesus?
Gather kids together and ask: How does this tally up—as a net loss or a net gain? Which gains stand out to you most and make all the losses worth it?
Say something like: Following Jesus as our king is not just about gaining entrance to heaven—it also means making serious sacrifices. But on the other hand, being a Christian is not about giving up fun and joy. Following Jesus brings the greatest gains on earth, totally incomparable with the temporary pleasures of this world.
Pass out a play-money bill to each student and ask teenagers to find a private space in the room where they can pray, focusing on what they’re willing to give up or lose for the sake of Jesus. Have teenagers each write one thing they’ve prayed about on the back of their bills; then invite them to come to the center of the room and put their bills through a paper shredder (or into a garbage can) to represent that loss. After teenagers each shred a bill, give them a prepared bookmark.
Ask kids to read their bookmarks; then ask: What gain that you have in Christ means the most to you right now? Why is it worth it to be a follower of Jesus? Pray together, praising God for the gains they have in him.
Kelli (a writer and editor) and David (a Bible and theology teacher) Trujillo are the authors of Jesus—The Life Changer (Group Publishing, Inc.). In their spare time they study literature (Kelli), coach basketball (David), and potty-train their son Davis (both). They live in Indianapolis.
This Bible study was originally published in a 2006 issue of Group Magazine.