Sunday School Lesson – “The Resurrection Message” Luke 24:1-9, 44-48; Acts 2:36

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VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 24:1-9, 44-48; Acts 2:36 (KJV, Public Domain)

In describing Himself as the Good Shepherd to His disciples, Jesus once taught them, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:17-18). 

When Jesus stood before Pilate, he marveled that Jesus would not speak up for Himself or answer the charges of His accusers (Mark 15:3-5), or beg for His life.  And at one point during His trial, Pilate told Jesus, “Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?” (John 19:10). 

Pilate fancied himself to be in charge of the affairs that day, but Jesus quickly schooled him on his supposed power.  Jesus said, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above. . .” (John 19:11).

Before He ever faced Pilate or any of the illegal trials that took place on that night, when the band of men arrived in the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus, and Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the servants of the high priest (Matthew 26:51), Jesus spoke these words: “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:53-54; emphasis mine, more on this later).

Jesus always had the power to avoid that painful moment.  Although man was the instrument that would lead Him to the cross, none of them: not Judas Iscariot, not the chief priests and scribes, and not even Pilate, had the power to put Him on the cross.  That power remained under Jesus’ full control, and with that power at His disposal, harnessing great restraint against using any of it for His personal benefit, relief, or escape, He laid Himself down on the cross: “I lay it down of myself” (John 10:18).  He allowed the crucifixion to take place so that, “the scriptures be fulfilled” (Matthew 26:54; Philippians 2:6-8).

Thus, Jesus laid Himself down and became the sacrificial Lamb once and for all (click here for more information on that subject from previous lessons).

But this story did not end with Jesus in the tomb permanently.  Remember the words He spoke: “I have the power to lay it down, and the power to take it again” (John 10:18; emphasis mine).

Several times, Jesus foretold His resurrection (see Matthew 8:31; 9:9, 30-32; 12:40; 16:21; John 219-22).  Sometimes, Jesus used very exact and descriptive words to tell what would occur: “Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again” (Mark 10:33-34). 

The third day is here, my friends!  That moment in history that all were waiting for, even if they didn’t know they were waiting for it, has arrived.

Jesus Christ has RISEN!  And because He is risen, we have this promise that we who believe one day shall be raised also (2 Corinthians 4:14; read 1 Corinthians 15:12-26).  Because He is risen, the message for the whole world now is that we have an eternal hope (1 Corinthians 15:19-20) which is found in our true King, Christ Jesus our Lord.

 The Angels’ Resurrection Message: “He is Risen!”

Luke 24:1 “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.”

The women carefully watched where and how the body of Jesus was laid (Luke 23:55).  There was no time now.  The day of preparation was here, and the Sabbath would soon be upon them (Luke 23:54; John 19:42), but they would be ready on the third day to do for Jesus’ body according to custom.

Joseph of Arimathea already carefully dislodged the body of Jesus from the cross, wrapping Him in linen, and laid Him in a new tomb (Luke 23:50-53).  Nicodemus also was with him.  He was the same one who asked Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old?” (John 3:4), and Jesus spent time teaching him of the love of God for the world (John 3:16) and of His death (John 3:14), and much more.

This Nicodemus brought his own contribution to the burial of Jesus.  He “brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight” (John 19:39).

There, in that place of a garden, where He was crucified, they laid Jesus (John 19:41-42), and the women watched, then went home, prepared, and waited for the third day.

Now, “the first day of the week,” Sunday, was here.  The third day has come and “very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre.” 

Why did they come to the sepulchre?  Because that’s where Jesus was laid.  That’s where you go to find the dead.  At the “sepulchre” is where they fully expected to find the lifeless body of Jesus and do for Him as was their custom, “bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.”

As they were coming, they wondered, “Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?” (Mark 16:3).  To get to the body of Jesus, they had to get behind the stone.  Being possibly about a ton in weight, the stone would be a hindrance to the love they wanted to bestow on the body of Christ.  These few women would not have the muscle or might to undo what took many men to put into place.

So, they wondered, and in their wondering, they kept moving, in hope, toward the place where they saw Jesus was laid.

Luke 24:2-3 “And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.  And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.”

They didn’t have to wonder at the performance of such a feat for very long because heaven already responded: “And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it” (Matthew 28:2).

The issue of the stone was taken care of and there would be no issues with the “keepers” either.  For, when they saw the countenance of the angel, they were overcome with “fear” and fell down like “dead men” (Matthew 28:3-4).

When the women arrived at the tomb, “they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.”  No obstacles remained before them and they easily “entered in.”

I wonder what that was like for them, to enter the tomb of Jesus.  In that day, and in that culture, they may have had the opportunity to enter tombs before.  But this was Jesus’ tomb.  Were they nervous?  Were their hearts filled with trepidation over what they were about to see?

As they stood outside, and then “entered in,” had the sorrow they felt developed a knot in their throats over what was ahead inside?  Regardless, none of those feelings would stop them from honoring the Lord’s body.

They went in for the Lord’s body, but once in, they found nobody.  Literally, they “found not the body of the Lord Jesus.”  The women didn’t understand what they saw or didn’t see, I should say.

John even tells us that poor Mary Magdalene was utterly distraught when she was faced with the reality of what occurred at the tomb.  She ran to Peter and John and said, most likely, in a hysterical fashion, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him” (20:2).

Luke 24:4-9 “And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?  He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.  And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.”

“Perplexed” about the lack of the Lord’s body, the women realized quickly they were not alone: “Behold, two men stood by them in shining garments.”  These “men” were verified to be angels when these verses are cross-referenced with the parallel accounts found in Matthew 28:2-5 and John 20:12.

Here, in Luke’s account, they were described as having “shining garments.”  The other gospels support this with their descriptions: “His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow” (Matthew 28:3); “clothed in a long white garment” (Mark 16:5); and John’s version says, “two angels in white” (John 20:12).

Viewing this, “they were afraid.”  Their appearance was a frightening thing to behold (compare Matthew 28:4 and Mark 16:5).  The sight of angels often had this effect on people.

The angels then speak, “Why seek ye the living among the dead?”  But that’s just it, isn’t it?  The women came to the tomb to seek the dead among the dead.  Their eyes witnessed His death and burial.  Coming to the tomb, their eyes were also planning on seeing the dead body of Jesus, but this third-day experience was already turning out to be something extraordinarily special.

“Why seek ye the living among the dead?”  That question, along with emphasis on that word “living” – could it be?  Are they saying what we’re hoping they are saying?

The message of the angels is, Jesus is ALIVE!  To be alive means there is life.  To have life means one is “living.”  This is the opposite of the death they came to see.  They came to prepare a body to stay dead in the grave.  They came to say their final goodbyes to the man in the grave.  But the Bible tells us that it was not possible for death to hold H+im (Acts 2:24).  They came with spices for the flesh, but His flesh would see no corruption (Acts 2:31) as was prophesied in Psalm 16:10.

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).

To the women, they speak, “He is not here, but is risen!”  While the women were still trying to grasp the situation and form a response to the angels’ question, the angels themselves gave the answer.  You cannot find Him here, because “He is not here.”  The place of the dead was meant to hold the dead but, “He is risen.” 

In the introduction of this lesson, I listed verses where Jesus foretold of His resurrection.  Here, the angels say to the women, “Remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”  By pointing out that He is “risen,” the angels were verifying that since everything else occurred as Jesus said it would, the resurrection portion He foretold them of, had also come to pass.

He is RISEN!  The promise of the resurrection of Christ has been fulfilled!  As He told Martha previously, “I am the resurrection, and the life. . .” (John 11:25).

Their understanding wasn’t long in coming.  “They remembered his words.”  Hearts were enlightened as the flood of memories, the flood of “his words” came back to them.  Jesus promised His disciples earlier, “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:25-26).  When time is spent listening to Jesus, those words, “his words,” will come back as a source of promise, revelation, and comfort when needed the most.

To the “eleven” remaining disciples (minus Judas Iscariot), “and to all the rest,” the women delivered the message of the angels, this Good News (Romans 1:1-4).  Jesus is alive!  Jesus has risen just like He said He would!

Jesus’ Resurrection Message, pt.1: “All Things Must Be Fulfilled”

Luke 24:44-45 “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.  Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,”

Along with the testimony of the women, others had the privilege of experiencing seeing the resurrected Christ.

Two fellows, walking on the road to Emmaus, encountered the risen Lord.  They walked with Jesus and talked with Jesus without the understanding of who this was in their midst (Luke 24:13-29).

It wasn’t until they sat to eat with Jesus, did they recognize Him by the actions of His breaking the bread (Luke 24:30-31).  Within that same hour, they rose and returned to Jerusalem to tell the disciples (Luke 24:33) this Good News: “The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon” (Luke 24:34; see also 1 Corinthians 15:1-5; more on the Emmaus Road trip can be found in the Explore section of the PDF or by searching “Recognizing Jesus” on-site).

Then, Jesus, Himself, appears to the disciples (Luke 24:36).  After encouraging their hearts that He wasn’t a spirit (Luke 34:37-43), He delivered His own message to His disciples.

As the women were called to remember the words Jesus had spoken previously, here Jesus wants to draw His disciples’ hearts to the understanding of what He taught them “while I was yet with you.”

“All things must be fulfilled,” He said.  The word “must” is a key component here.  Like a command, it is sent out to fulfill the instruction it was given.  It had to happen!  As horrific as the cross was, it came to produce a glorious salvation, with a glorious message.  These men, who would be responsible for carrying the gospel message to the world, had to know and believe, that every step of the way, God was sovereignly in control.

The events that occurred were according to His holy timetable until they reached the point of manifestation on the cross.  Whatever God says, it will happen: “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19; see also Numbers 14:35; Psalm 89:34; 110:4; Isaiah 40:8; 55:11; Hebrews 6:18).

From the time of the Fall of man, God has spoken of the Messiah who would come and free mankind from the tyranny of sin.  In Genesis 3:15, God speaks, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”  These, and many more promises like it, with many more references and prophecies about the Messiah, “were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.”

So, Jesus “opened their understanding.”  Forever the teacher, Jesus does not leave them confused and frustrated with a lack of understanding.  He delves into it with them.  He spends time with them, with the Word, “that they might understand the scriptures.”

For them to become the powerhouses of being the first Church leaders, they themselves would need to be fully enlightened.  The baton was being passed.  His mission would become their mission and they needed to know all the who’s, what’s, where’s, when’s, how’s, and why’s.  They needed to know how prophecy became fulfilled in Christ and be readily able to teach it to others.

Jesus’ Resurrection Message, pt.2: “Repentance and Remission Should Be Preached in His Name”

Luke 24:46-48 “And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  And ye are witnesses of these things.”

“It behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.”  Now, people have a chance to be free from their sins.  The story of the cross speaks of the fulfillment of everything Christ did for humanity.  Pass it on.

“That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name.”  When one is talking of “repentance” they are basically speaking of making a U-turn in life.  You are sorry for the sin and have determined to turn away from it, denouncing it, and the wrong attached to it.  Then, redirecting oneself purposely towards what is right in God’s eyes.  It is making a complete change in one’s life, actions, heart, and mind.  This is part of the message they would preach.

Another focus of their preaching would be the “remission of sins,” or forgiveness.  In Christ, God forgives: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7; along with many more verses).

All of Isaiah 53 prophesied of this Messiah by whom sins would be forgiven: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him . . . thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin. . .” (Isaiah 53:10).

They were instructed to carry this message “among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”  God’s intention was always for all the families and peoples of the earth, all ethnicities, and backgrounds, be exposed to this offer of salvation (see Genesis 12:1-3).  “It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6; compare Matthew 28:18-20).

“And ye are witnesses of these things.”  As eyewitnesses by walking with Jesus for these past three years, the apostles could not only relate the words of Jesus but the experience of being with the Lord.  The truth, mixed with that experience, along with the witness of the resurrection, would cause these men to turn the world upside down in spreading the faith of Jesus Christ.  They would go forward, never turning back.  Most would lose their own lives in the process of the preaching.  But Jesus’ resurrection message was too important to keep to themselves: “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name.”  Souls were out there.  And those souls needed to hear the gospel and be saved.

Peter’s Resurrection Message: “Jesus is Lord!”

 Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

On the day of Pentecost, after being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4), Peter preached a powerful message supporting the Kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Testifying of Jesus of Nazareth and the “miracles and wonders and signs” He did (Acts 2:22), Peter, with all the boldness of the Holy Spirit in him, also testified against those wicked men whose hands have “crucified” the Lord (Acts 2:23).

But God would have the final say: “Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Acts 2:24; emphasis mine).  The same one that God “raised up” is the same one who occupies the throne of David as King forever, as was prophesied from Psalm 110:1 (compare Acts 2:34-35).

Peter pointed out also that David, who wrote these particular psalms/prophecies referenced here, had long been dead.  But, before he died God gave him a promise “that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne” (Acts 2:30; emphasis mine).  This is seen in Psalm 132:11, where identical wording is used, saying, “The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.”  A promise, Peter declared, was fulfilled by Jesus (compare and read Acts 2:22-36).

The long-awaited Messiah, the true King forever, was expected to come by that covenant promise given to David (read 2 Samuel 7:1-16): “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (2 Samuel 7:16).  Peter presented his case that Jesus Christ completely fulfilled and filled all the requirements as the risen King, saying, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

Because He is Lord, and because the people needed to know what to do now that their hearts were “pricked” with this message (Acts 2:37), Peter went on to preach the same resurrection message Jesus instructed His disciples to deliver, “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name” (see above notes), by saying, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).

The Lamb who was slain has risen as King, and the message still stands today, the Good News, all who seek Him, who believe, and accept Him as their Savior, can find forgiveness from their sins and a chance to walk in a new life through our risen Lord, Jesus Christ our King.  That’s the resurrection message!

PDF Full Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – The Resurrection Message

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page:  Adult Journal Page – The Resurrection Message

Kid’s Journal Page:  Kid’s Journal Page – The Resurrection Message

Blank Journal Pages: These pages, one designed for adults and one for children, can be used to bring out, remember, or write a particular part of the lesson you wish for you and/or your class to focus on.  Click>>Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages to access the journal pages.

Acrostic Poem: He is Risen Acrostic

Draw the Scene:  The Resurrection Message Draw the Scene

He is Risen Draw the Scene: The Resurrection Message Draw the Scene 2

Coloring Page: The Ressurection Message Coloring Sheet

Activity Page:  The Resurrection Message Activity Page

Memory Verse:  The Resurrection Message Memory Verse

Word Search:  The Resurrection Message Word Search  Answers:  The Resurrection Message Word Search Answers

Crossword:  The Resurrection Message Crossword  Answers:  The Resurrection Message Crossword Answers

Word Scramble:  The Resurrection Message Word Scramble  Answers: The Resurrection Message Word Scramble Answers

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Sunday School Lesson – “The Passover Lamb is Crucified” Luke 23:33-46; John 3:16

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 23:33-46; John 3:16 (KJV, Public Domain)

At twilight, at six o’clock that evening (being the time the Jewish day started), the celebration of Passover would begin, and the lamb of the Last Supper would have been killed for the feast (compare Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22: 7-13).  Before twenty-four hours would pass, before this very time the next day, Jesus Christ would hang on the cross and be sacrificed as the Passover Lamb once and for all: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

Many things have happened between Jesus’ last Passover with His disciples and His journey to the cross.  Following Luke’s account, not long after that Last Supper, after exposing there is a betrayer among them and squashing arguments of who is the greatest (Luke 22:24), Jesus soon found Himself on the Mount of Olives, in that garden called Gethsemane, where He battled in prayer (Luke 22:39-46).

Soon after, the betrayer arrived in the garden with “a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees” (John 18:3).  The price had been paid, and Judas Iscariot would fully follow through on his part as an informant for the enemy, double-crossing Jesus with a kiss (Luke 22:47-48).

After His arrest and the desertion of His disciples (Matthew 26:56), and the denial of Peter (Luke 22:54-62), Jesus stood before Pilate, a man condemned, and yet not condemned.  Not condemned, because there was no sin attached to Jesus or in Jesus that would condemn Him (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5).  Even Pilate’s own mouth voiced His innocence with these words: “Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:  No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him” (Luke 23:14-15).

Yet, the Bible tells us, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).  For that to happen, the Passover Lamb had to be crucified.

Pilate passed his sentence and condemned to death (Luke 23:24) He that came to bring life (John 10:10). 

Stripped and beaten, crowned with thorns and spit upon, scourged and mocked (Matthew 27:27-31; Mark 15:16-20; John 19:1), he “Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.  And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha” (John 19:16-17).

Jesus and the Cross

Luke 23:33-38 “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.  Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.  And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.  And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.  And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, This Is The King Of The Jews.”

This was His destiny if we want to call it that.  This was the appointed time for Jesus to arrive at this place, this place called “Calvary, this place in history.

“Calvary” was more than a lovely thought in the hymns we sing and the story we pass down, it was a real place, where real pain and sacrifice were experienced.  It was a real place where love would win the ultimate victory.

Before He left heaven, this place, carrying out this plan of salvation was already determined: “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world…” (1 Peter 1:19-20; see also Acts 2:23; Hebrews 9:26; Revelation 13:8).  The very details of His crucifixion were recorded in Psalm 22 many years before it happened.

Calvary would be the place where God would satisfy the greatest need humanity has ever known: salvation.  Calvary is the place where “they crucified him,” where Jesus laid down His life on the cross (John 10:18).

Submitting to the Father’s will on the cross would mean things would forever be different.  He had done more than come to change the world, He had come to change the hearts and lives of men.  He had come to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:40).  He had come to reconcile broken humanity back to the Father (Colossians 1:20; 2 Corinthians 5:18).  The cross made the way for that to happen.

With that, the act of crucifixion commenced.  As His body was forced to lie on that rugged beam, being held in place, the nails were driven in His flesh to secure Him, to punish Him, to kill Him.  Being lifted high, with the weight of His body pulling and being jarred against the tearing of flesh and the pain of the wound of the scourging, He was hung between two “malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left” (we will talk more on them later).

This symbol of our Lord’s cross, posted between two others, is another real symbol in history testifying to the realness this moment demanded.  Our Lord’s death is not a fairy tale or a wonderful read of something lovely someone did for us.  His story is real, with incredibly real details that support the account of what He did for you and me.

Hanging there, Jesus wastes no time in speaking His first words from the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”  Jesus refuses to let pain speak for Him.  He refuses to let resentment, bitterness, or anger have a word here.  Instead, love speaks.  The same love that drove Him to the cross (John 15:13) is the same love that is pleading for their forgiveness.  When the course of these events is over and Jesus ascends back to the Father, all who believe in Him will find life and forgiveness (John 14:6; 3:16; Acts 3:19; 2:38).

Earlier, Jesus prayed for His disciples (John 17), and here He prays for the executioners, the nailers, the mockers, the whippers, and for them who yelled, “Crucify Him!” (Luke 23:21).

In an article I previously published titled, Focus Shift, I wrote:

Instead of ranting and raving, Jesus, in His agony and pain sought the betterment of the very ones who were killing Him.  He knew He would die.  He knew the pain would not cease until He did.  This plan was going to go forth.  Yet, He focused on the needs of others rather than Himself.

How awesome is that?  Often, we hear these words during a Seven Last Words service on Good Friday, but can we even begin to imagine the strength and willpower it took for Jesus not to focus on Himself during that time?  For Him to look beyond what He was currently going through to care for and about others?  I don’t think we have a clue.  He immediately pleaded with the Father for their forgiveness.” (©WordforLifeSays)

So, thus, He prayed.

As they “cast lots” for His garment, fulfilling even more prophecies (Psalm 22:18), the response of the very people Jesus just prayed for while in agony was startling.  They “derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.”

The “soldiers” too “mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar.”  That old phrase, “rubbing salt into an open wound,” comes to mind when I read these words.

Love lays down on the cross.  Love prays for His transgressors.  Love bleeds in the place of man.  Yet, love is scorned and mocked with wagging heads (Matthew 27:39; compare Psalm 22:7-8), tormenting Jesus with more than the nails in His flesh.  The hurting words of the people must have pierced His heart in a way a sword never could.

Yet, He refused their taunts.  He refused the temptation to leave this appointed place.  He refused to save Himself from this hour (John 12:27).  Remember what He said in the garden?  “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:53-54).

Therefore, He hung, with Pilate’s “superscription. . . over him”, written in “Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

Why was Pilate so adamant about keeping his superscription as it was?  The Jewish leaders insisted that he revise the wording by saying, “Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews” (John 19:21).  But Pilate refused and stated, “What I have written I have written” (John 19:22).  What was meant to be a written charge of the condemned became a written testimony for all to see.

Pilate knew they handed Jesus over by unjust means (Matthew 27:18), and they had no real evidence to condemn Him.  Even more startling was his wife’s interruption of the proceedings to send a private message to him, straightly telling him, “Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him” (Matthew 27:19).

He spoke twice in Luke, “I find no fault in him” (Luke 23:4, 14).  Was his conscience bothering him?  That, mixed with the warning from his wife, could have stirred something inside of him, but not enough to totally release Jesus from this fate.

Was he making a point?  Who really knows his thoughts behind the process, but the words of the superscription, written in the three main languages of the day and region, would stand to proclaim, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

Jesus and the Thief

Luke 23:39-43 “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

So, there Jesus hung in between the two thieves (Mark 15:27), fulfilling scripture once again, being “numbered with the transgressors” (Mark 15:28; Isaiah 53:12).

Originally, both thieves had a thing or two to speak out against and challenged our Lord, and “reviled him” (Matthew 27:44; Mark 15:32).  Jesus was truly taking a battering on the cross.  There would not even be a camaraderie with His fellow condemned.  As His body bled and writhed in agony, would He be forsaken by all?

The challenge picked up in intensity as the pain and feeling of hopelessness crept in for one of the thieves.  He “railed. . . If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.”  In his railing against the Lord, he probably wasn’t as much concerned with Jesus and His claim to deity, and saving Himself, as he was for his own life being spared.  Out of fear for his life and his own pain, he made this selfish request.

But, challenging his challenge, the other thief spoke up, “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?”  Being this close to the end of his life may have awakened a reality in this man that the other seemed to miss.  None of them would leave these crosses alive.  The Roman soldiers would make sure of that (John 19:31-34).  All of them faced the same outcome.  Or did they?

Was there no fear of God in the first thief, even in this late hour of life?

As the prodigal son did in the pigpen (Luke 15:17), had this second thief finally come to himself and realize the wrongs that undid his life?  Did he question the choices he made that led him to Calvary as well?  Did he see something in Jesus, even in this late hour of his own life –  the man who speaks forgiveness from the place of pain, that he wanted for his own life, what little of it was left?

We don’t have all the answers to the questions or thoughts this man was struggling with on the cross, but we do know that he recognized two things.  First, he recognized his own undone state, that he “justly” was suffering for his “deeds.”  Recognizing personal sin is the first step to true repentance.  Jesus may have been nailed next to him, but he knew what Pilate and Herod already knew: “this man hath done nothing amiss.”

I don’t know how much of Jesus this thief could see physically with his eyes, but with his heart, it appears he had seen enough to believe that even now something better can come from his wasted life.  “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”

Others were jeering, mocking, and cursing Him, but this dying thief recognized Jesus by what others missed, addressing Him as “Lord.”  He would die as a consequence of his actions, of this, he was sure, and he accepted that.  At the same time, he also accepted that the One who hung next to him was “Lord.”

To the “Lord” he prayed, “remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”  He didn’t rile.  He didn’t even suggest to Jesus to be released from his cross.  But when his story was done on this earth, he wanted to be where Jesus was, in His “kingdom.”  As the minutes passed, and the struggle to breathe and endure the pain and humiliation of the cross were getting extremely harder, this thief was looking ahead, with hope, for something better.

His late hour faith in Christ was rewarded with these words from our dying Lord: “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”  Today, Jesus promised him, this will all be over.  Today, this man would be saved once and for all.  Today, Jesus would carry this precious soul to heaven with Him.

Jesus and the Father

Luke 23:44-46 “And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.  And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.  And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”

Earth responded to the Lord being crucified.  From noon, “the sixth hour”, to three o’clock in the afternoon, “the ninth hour”, “darkness” covered the “earth” (see Amos 8:9).

At this “ninth hour” Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).  The nails, the taunts, the pain were incomparable to this feeling of separation between Himself and the Father, a feeling He had never experienced before.  These very words were prophesied to be voiced at this time (Psalm 22:1), as the sin of the world laid literally on the shoulders of Jesus.

Heaven also responded to the crucifixion of our Lord when “the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.”  The need for further sacrifices was no longer there.  Through Jesus Christ, God was making a new way for believing souls to gain access to Him.

Before the cross, Jesus taught that He was the “way” (John 14:6) and the “door of the sheep” (John 10:7).  In John 10:9, Jesus says, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”  There was no longer the need for “the veil of the temple.”  The Good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep (John 10:11), and heaven tore the “veil” because the way has been made:

“God made a way through the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.  To the life that will turn their heart and soul over to Him, He made a way.  “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” (John 14:6).  He is our access key.  He is the one who paved the pathway for us in righteousness and through His blood provided a space for us in His heavenly realm.  If we are His and have turned to Him, there is a place with your name on it in heaven.  A place waiting and wanting to be filled by you, but you must come through Jesus Christ only.” (God Made a Way/WordforLifeSays.com)

Seeing that all was done, every prophecy and command fulfilled, Jesus, spoke, “It is finished” (John 19:30).  Then, to the Father, Jesus cried out, echoing the words of Psalm 31:5, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”  There was nothing left for Him to do.  This portion of His story was written, and written perfectly well, and now it was time for the ending.  The work of the cross was finished.  The Passover Lamb had been crucified.  The price for sin has been paid (Romans 5:8; 6:23; Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

Jesus and the World

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16 isn’t just a wonderful sentiment.  It’s more than a good word spoken to a seeking man by the name of Nicodemus.  John 3:16 was the expressed saving power of God on display in one verse, and Jesus knew that when He died on the cross, when He was lifted “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness” (John 3:14), through His sacrifice, those who believe will find “eternal life” (John 3:15) in Him.  “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17).

Why?  Because, “God so loved the world.” 

Love is God’s great motivation for everything.  From the calling of everything into existence to His moving through history, in all of it, God has operated in the sphere of love.

There is a popular quote that you may have heard before touting, “Love makes people do strange things.”  While love, or man’s idea of love, may have tripped people up and caused confusion over what love really is or how to respond to it, God never had any misgivings.  Anything and everything He did for love was an on-purpose act with a direct point of what He wanted to accomplish, even the death of Christ on the cross.

Love doesn’t make God do strange things.  God’s love does impossible things that only His perfect heart can do.  Although some may not understand the act of sacrificing Your perfect Son for the most unworthy of people, and they may view it through the eyes of limited human knowledge, thinking it strange, God sees it as the only way out for mankind to have a renewed relationship with Him.  God knows that for any man, woman, or child to be redeemed, they need to be reconciled to Him.  Only what Jesus did through the cross, as our Passover Lamb, can do this.  Only God’s love put Jesus there for us, for the “world”, to hang on Calvary’s tree: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16; emphasis mine).

Because of what Jesus Christ has done, we now have “access by faith into this grace,” and we have a reason to “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).  Through His sacrifice of blood, He bought the key that would give us an open door to our heavenly Father.  And with everything we face in this life, our promise through Christ stands, and we who “believeth in him” shall have “everlasting life.” 

Thank God for the Lamb!

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

“Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” 1 Corinthians 5:7

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Sunday School Lesson – “Jesus’ Last Passover with His Disciples” Luke 22:14-22

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VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 22:14-22 (KJV, Public Domain)

Jesus’ time on this earth was ending.  On this night, He would be betrayed.  From there, the course of events will move quickly toward the cross where the Passover Lamb will be sacrificed for the sin of the world.

Before we arrive at that point in history, let us review the specifics of Jesus’ last Passover celebration with the disciples that we now refer to as the Lord’s Supper.

The Hour has Come

Luke 22:14 “And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.”

At the beginning of chapter 22, we see a more detailed telling of events that lead to our opening verse.

Verse 1 plainly tells us, “Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.” (For more on the original Passover view this lesson here).  It is also during this time that the hunt for Jesus’ life is in full swing (vs. 2) and Judas Iscariot was all too happy to oblige them with the means and opportunity, for the right price, of course (Vss. 3-6; see also Matthew 26:14-16)

“Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed,” (Luke 22:7).  And I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but before all these events would conclude, Christ Himself will be identified as our ultimate Passover Lamb sacrifice (1 Corinthians 5:7).

As the time drew near to kill the lamb, Peter and John were sent to prepare for and make “ready the passover” (Luke 22:13; read Vss. 7-13).

Opening to the first verse of our lesson text, we see, “And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.”

To me, the phrase “the hour was come” is so pivotal in the story of Jesus.  Although here it is referring to the hour of the meal that according to Jewish times would have been at twilight, or just after sunset, or evening (compare Matthew 26:20; see also Leviticus 23:5), I think of those times when Jesus voiced, “My hour has not yet come” (see John 2:4; 7:6).  As Jesus was entering in the “hour” of the feast, He was also entering into the “hour” of His suffering, also referred to as His passion (Acts 1:3; compare to John 13:1) that would bring the hope of salvation of the world.

As Jesus was entering into the “hour” of the feast, He was entering the “hour” of long-awaited prophecies being fulfilled concerning Him and the world He would finish on the cross (compare John 13:1).

After this sacred meal, Jesus would be arrested and led as a “lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7).  As they led Him to Calvary, He would be “numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).  As He hung on the cross, Messianic psalms such as Psalm 22 would become so scarily read as it outlines centuries before the crucifixion of Christ in exact detail.

Yes, I believe this hour is very pivotal.

Thus, “he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.”  Yes, all “twelve apostles” joined Jesus in this final Passover feast, including Judas Iscariot, the Lord’s betrayer (which we will discuss in greater detail a little later).

Luke 22:15-16 “And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus never hid the reality of the suffering He would face from His disciples.  There were many times when Jesus tried to prepare their hearts for this time (see Matthew 16:21; 20:17-19; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:21-22; 13:33; 18:31-33).  But, as Luke 18:34 reminds us, the truth of what Jesus was trying to convey to them regarding His suffering often escaped the disciples understanding: “And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.”

Therefore, Jesus told them, “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer”.  Although the time and significance of everything that was about to transpire was lost on His disciples, Jesus knew and held this occasion very near to His heart.  He knew that after this day He would not eat of this feast anymore “until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 

Despite what the chief priests and those who sought His life thought of Him, Jesus knew where He was going.  After everything pertaining to His mission on earth and every prophecy fulfilled, Jesus knew that He would return to the Father, “the kingdom of God,” and one day His saints would join Him in the ultimate celebration of celebrations.

Do This in Remembrance of Me

Luke 22:17-20 “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.  And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.  Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”

May we not overlook the taking of the cups here.  While this cup was one of several in the part of the regular Passover feasts celebration, I can’t help but be reminded that in a little while our Lord will be on His knees praying in that sacred garden for a certain cup to pass Him by. But with a heart of submission and acceptance, He takes on the full role the Father has ordained for Him, “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus will suffer.  He will be crucified on a criminal’s cross.  He will die, but for the joy of being in fellowship with His disciples, at this moment, He gives thanks.  He keeps His eyes and His heart heaven focused.  He goes through the rituals and prescriptions of the Passover meal, without missing a beat, and still giving thanks.

With that same emphasis given toward the “kingdom of God shall come” as He did in verse 16, Jesus knows that He will not “drink of the fruit of the vine” in this celebratory manner until that great and glorious day.

He hasn’t returned yet, so our Lord is still waiting for His celebratory feast.

With His focus on spiritual and heavenly things, Jesus sets about a new way for His disciples and all who would accept Him as Savior to remember Him as they approached this sacred meal.

Taking the “bread” and giving thanks and breaking it, distributing it to His disciples, Jesus speaks these words: “This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.”

This Passover bread would have broken easily considering it was without yeast as formerly instructed to the people (Exodus 12:8; Deuteronomy 16:3-4).  With its maybe flat and cracker-like structure (as we know it today), it would have easily snapped and been susceptible to breaking or tearing, causing much harm.  Jesus took much harm on His body when He died for our sins.

The bread being broken was a symbol of what His “body which is given for you” would endure.  Isaiah prophesied of His suffering body, saying, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed,” (53:4-5).

His “body” was given for our sins (Galatians 1:4).  When we partake of this holy meal, we are remembering, by faith, everything Jesus endured for us.  We are remembering the sacrifice “given for you”; given for all of us (John 3:16).

Of the “cup” He speaks, “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”  Hebrews 9:22 reminds us that, “Without shedding of blood is no remission.”  The symbol of the cup would be the symbol of His life being poured out “for you”, for us all.

In the book of the Law, in Leviticus 17:11, we read, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”

If I had space and time, I would break that one verse down with those four phrases, each having its own space of explanation: 1) Life of the flesh is in the blood, 2) I have given it to you upon the altar, 3) To make an atonement for your souls, 4) For it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

The blood was sacred.  Then, it was for the purpose of sacrifice on the altar, and the blood that would be represented in the cup that would be forever remembered in the same sacred way, only more so, because He who gave His life on the altar of the cross is so much more and He blood has done so much more.

Taking our minds back to the Old Testament altar, we see it not only as a place of worship but also as a place of sacrifice.  It is where one could find atonement for sins and wrongs committed.  It was the center of reconciliation between God and man from the time of Noah when he “builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar” (Genesis 8:20).

That was then.  That was a picture of what was to come.  On this night, Jesus would give us a new picture, with a new, fulfilling meaning of blood shed, sacrifice, and altar.

Throughout the New Testament we see this new picture of where our reconciliation and hope now lies: in Christ.  Hebrews 9:11-15 tells us,

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”

He, with the cup in His hand.  He, the mediator of the “new testament”, verifies what has already been stated: this is “my blood, which is shed for you.”

For love, He would perform every bit of the Father’s will

For love, He will lay down His life (John 15:13).

For love, His blood will be shed for you and me.

Going back to the previous verse – “This do in remembrance of me” we recognize we could never save ourselves (Ephesians 2:8).  Every soul on planet earth – past, present, and future would need what Jesus would offer on the cross through His blood: reconciliation.

“This do in remembrance of me” were the words that came that left no question as to why this would be celebrated from henceforth.  It would be done and carried out to remember what Jesus did on that cross, to remember, in its truest form, the sacrifice He became when He allowed Himself to become the Passover Lamb.  As the original Passover was a memorial to celebrate the children of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt (see Exodus 12:14), so too would this “supper” celebrate our deliverance from the captivity of sin through the brokenness of Jesus Christ.

To some, the cup may just be a cup to hold a drink for the evening, but for us who believe, that cup became an everlasting symbol of the new that God would initiate through His holy Son.

My Betrayer is With Me

Luke 22:21-22 “But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.  And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!”

After announcing that it would be His very blood that would usher in the new testament, the new covenant, there is the “but” thrown in the mix.

As much as Jesus desired to share this meal with His disciples, it would be one of them who would betray Him as was prophesied many years prior: “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9).

Earlier, in verse 14, we noted that as Jesus sat down, all twelve apostles were with Him, including Judas Iscariot.  And Jesus plainly states here in verse 21, “the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.” 

One, an apostle, welcomed to dine with Jesus as a friend, is also a betrayer.  And although many voices rose to question, “Lord, is it I?” (Matthew 26:21), both Jesus and Judas Iscariot knew the answer to that question.

Redemption for mankind will come, and Jesus will fulfill His role and purpose for being born on this earth: “The Son of man goeth, as it was determined,” but that does not absolve Judas Iscariot’s guilt from the part he played, for Jesus said, “But woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!”

His name always appears in the last position of the disciples in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and not at all in Acts 1:13.  And, his name is always identified by what he did.

It was he that went to the chief priests, and asked, “What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you?” (Matthew 26:15).  It was he that would later come to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed in great distress, and betrayed our Lord with a kiss (Matthew 26:15; 27:3).  And it was he who joined the Lord at the “table” commemorating this Last Supper.

Although the events that would come at the end of this supper, at the end of this night would be painful in more ways than one, Jesus desired to have this time with His disciples and to share this meal.

They, and Christians following, would look back on the events of this Last Supper as a time to reflect, examine, be grateful, and remember all that our Lord Jesus Christ has done for each of us.

PDF Full Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Jesus’ Last Passover with His Disciples

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Sunday School Lesson – “The First Passover” Exodus 12:1-14

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VERSE DISCOVERY: Exodus 12:1-14 (KJV, Public Domain)

How fast are we to remember where God delivered us from, our personal journey to salvation? This lesson marks an exciting time of deliverance for God’s people, the children of Israel. From their bondage, He would crush the head of the enemy that oppressed them and deliver them with His mighty arm. In the process, God establishes a holy day, a feast for the people to remember and celebrate this special time of deliverance. Passover was to be forever a national time of remembrance and celebration for God’s people, and before they would step one foot out of Egypt, God already instituted it.

 Instituting This Holy Day

Exodus 12:1-2 “And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.”

God’s purpose in Moses returning to Egypt was to be the leader who would initiate and conduct His plan of deliverance for His people (Exodus 3:1-10).  God heard the cries of His people, He remembered His covenant with their forefathers, and set the plan in motion for their release from bondage (Exodus 2:23-25; 3:11-22).

All events leading up to the Exodus were done except for one major, final event. Pharaoh has resisted Moses’ warnings repeatedly, and in doing so, he has resisted God Himself.  All warnings to let His people go have fallen on spiritually deaf ears and hardened hearts.  God has issued plague after plague; everything from turning water to blood, to lice and frogs overtaking the land and the people, to darkness so deep it could be felt, and so on.  God’s power has been manifested, and the Egyptians saw enough of it that it should have compelled them to repent of their evil ways before God and release His people.

Alas, it was not to be so. One more plague was forthcoming.  This was to be the worst of all.  This would not only liberate God’s people, but it would humble the Egyptians under the mighty hand of God.

So sure was God that this would be the last straw for the Egyptians that He had to now get these lifetime slaves in a state of readiness with a mindset to be a people who will be free. In doing so, the first thing He announces, speaking to “Moses and Aaron” (Moses’ older brother who has been used as a mouthpiece of Moses and God), “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months” (see also Exodus 13:4).

Their lives were about to take a dramatic change for the good. The day of their freedom was now going to be a mark of remembrance and celebration for the Israelites.  This would be the “beginning,” the starting point of their new journey in life according to God’s plan.

Note: Do you know, my friend, that God has a plan for your life too (see Psalm 138:8 and Philippians 1:6)?   The Bible has so many verses that give us this assurance.  But God’s plan for your deliverance will only and always have a starting point with making Jesus Christ your Savior (John 3:16; 14:6).  If you have not done so already, I urge you to do it today.

God’s Word says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end,” (Jeremiah 29:11).  But, before anyone can reach an “expected end” they must have a starting point, and that starting point for God’s people would begin with the instituting of this holy day, a day set apart to remember where God brought them from.

Instructions for This Holy Day

Exodus 12:3-4 “Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.”

“Speak unto the congregation of Israel.” As the mouthpiece of God and His chosen leader for this mission, Moses was instructed to relay God’s mandates to His people.  Moses would hear from God, and God would teach Moses what needed to be done.  In return, Moses would teach and show the people God’s expectations and how to follow His instructions for this holy day.

“In the tenth day of the month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers.” Every Israelite, every man, every house was to participate in this feast that God was instituting. There is a revelation in the fact that God wanted ALL His people covered.  God wanted ALL His people celebrating on the same page.

This is where unity comes to play a key role in their national deliverance. Jesus teaches His disciples in the New Testament that, “If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand,” (Mark 3:25).  God wanted all His people free, standing, and marching victoriously out of the land of Egypt.  For that to occur they ALL had to be covered.

“And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it.” We are so used to doing our grocery shopping the modern way. I go to the store, and I get exactly what my family needs for a particular recipe (ex. 1 ½ lbs. of ground beef for meatloaf, 3 lbs. of chicken if I am in a fried chicken mood, and so on).  During Moses’ day, the measurements were not so exact for meat.  To slaughter a whole animal for only 4-6 people would be extremely wasteful.  So, in these instructions, a community effort of sharing their resources comes into play.  If an animal was much too large for one family, rather than let it go to waste, they were to share it with their “neighbor.”

Exodus 12:5-7 “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.”

“Your lamb shall be without blemish.” “blemish” is a flaw.  It means it is not in its most perfect state.  There is something wrong with it.  This kind of animal may be okay for a regular Sunday dinner or a weekday supper, but this day was going to be a holy day with great spiritual significance attached to it, and there could be nothing wrong with the “lamb.”

Another reason there could be no “blemish” is that not only was this “lamb” part of the celebration meal, but this little guy was also a symbol of sacrifice.  His “blood” would be used to cover the people, so to speak, on that fateful night to come: “And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.”

What a beautiful picture of salvation represented here. 1 Peter 1:19 shows Jesus “as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,” whose precious blood bought us and covered us.

Exodus 12:8-11 “And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover.”

Not only had God given extremely specific details in the choosing of the lamb, but he also gave very clear instructions on how it was to be prepared, cooked, and eaten.

They were to “eat the flesh in that night.” Everything was to be kept in the purest, freshest state possible.  God left no room for contamination or impurities to enter this sacrifice.  It had to be cooked: “roast with fire,” and then eaten immediately.

“Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire.” This is the second time He emphasized that it be “roast with fire.” Any other way of preparing or eating it would be a violation of the way God prescribed for this special sacrificial meal and therefore it would be rendered unacceptable (read Malachi 1:7-8, 12-14 for the chastisement of using unacceptable sacrifices).

God further instructed that everything be kept intact: “his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.”

In keeping everything in the purest state possible, they were also instructed to “let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.” There were to be no leftovers.  No lamb sandwiches for the road the next day.  Remember, this is not wastefulness, rather this lamb, as opposed to others for normal dinners, was a lamb of sacrifice and deliverance.  He was a special lamb, for a special night, with a special purpose.  Therefore, anything remaining they had to “burn.”

And they were to “eat it in haste.” God was going to do something amazing in that land that He had never done before, and He already knew how it would turn out.  He already knew that His people would be free on this night.  The people had to prepare themselves in faith as God was instructing them as if they too were, anticipating their own freedom.  They had to eat with “loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand.” They were to eat in readiness to move no matter what time it would occur.

I rode past a firehouse once, and they had their doors opened for all to see. There on the floor, I could see, positioned by the trucks, were their boots and gear just like you see on tv.  When the alarm sounds, they run to the truck, step in the boots, pull the gear up, and go.  They are always in a state of readiness to move, if necessary, day or night.  This is similar to the idea of God instructing the people to eat with “loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand.”

They were to be ready because their deliverance was surely coming!

Exodus 12:12 “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.”

“For I will pass through the land . . . this night.”  God was passing through with a purpose. On “this night” those of ancient Egypt will be humbled once and for all, and God’s people will gain their long-awaited deliverance.  There is a “firstborn” in every family, in every house, and in every field.  This meant there would not be a home that would not experience the horror that would be unleashed on “this night.” No Egyptian would be able to turn a blind eye any longer.  They will feel the affliction for their own selves.  They all will taste the wrath of the Lord on “this night.”

And every false idea about the supremacy of any false gods would be killed along with the firstborn. God will “execute judgment” and show, once and for all, that He is the only God.  “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible…” (Deuteronomy 10:17).  For He says, “I am the LORD.” And, after this night, all arguments against His deity will be put to rest (see also Numbers 33:4).

Exodus 12:13 “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.”

“When I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you.” Had they have not followed God’s instructions in the way God prescribed, surely then, they too would have tasted the fate of the Egyptians that night. God only promised to “pass over” them when He saw the unblemished “blood” of the lamb on the doorposts.  When He saw that they obeyed His instructions in readiness, then they would experience true deliverance.

That is a lesson for many to take for themselves today.  Jesus, Himself spoke, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).  There are not numerous ways to experience the freedom and deliverance of true salvation.  Jesus is the only way.  He is not one path to follow in the choice of multiple paths, but He said, “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  The book of Acts supports this great truth by letting us know that “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (4:12).

To be truly delivered must be done God’s way, in obedience to what He says.  We cannot save ourselves.  It cannot be according to our own plan or what we feel is the right way.  Here, God told them the right way and the only way they would be able to walk out in freedom – the only way they would experience this great Passover, and that was through the blood of the lamb on the doorpost.

Remembering This Holy Day

Exodus 12:14 “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.”

“This day shall be unto you for a memorial.” This “feast to the LORD,” this day was to be commemorated “throughout your generations.” Passover was not about God’s people; it was about what God did for His people.  It was a “feast to the LORD.”

The story and celebration of how God delivered them and brought them out of Egyptian bondage were to be passed down always like a treasured family heirloom. So much so God institutes it as law “by an ordinance for ever.” When Jesus Christ died for all mankind, He became our Passover lamb.  “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us,” is what 1 Corinthians 5:7 tells us.

We all have a starting point of when and where God saved us and brought us out of our own bondage to sin. Our job is not to forget what He has done for us either; rather, we are to remember with great appreciation and reverence our day of deliverance.

PDF Full Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes and other ideas available.): Sunday School Lesson – The First Passover

Suggested Activities:

Opening Lesson Idea:

Bring to class different decorations from different holidays and display them around the room. As your students come in, they may be somewhat confused about all the decorations.

Have fun with it and ask them, Aren’t you ready to celebrate!  At the same time, point to the different decorations and comment that it is time to celebrate that particular holiday.  Your class will no doubt correct you.

Ask, So, what are your favorite holidays to celebrate and why?

Say, Did you know the word holiday used to mean holy day?  A holy day is a special day set apart and observed for a special reason.  In today’s lesson, we are going to learn about a special holy day of remembrance God institutes for His people, the children of Israel.  You may not be that familiar with this day.  It may not have been on your list of favorite holidays to celebrate, but this day was especially important to God and His people.

Note: if your students did put Easter on their list of favorites you can link that with today’s lesson.  Today’s lesson talks about the first Passover celebration.  But did you know Jesus plays a key role in the Passover too?

Let’s learn a little more about Passover and tell me if you can pick up on the areas where you see Jesus come in. (For young children, you can make this a game.  Using party favors that you blow or something similar, every time the lesson comes to a part where Jesus is mentioned, they can blow their party favors in celebration.)

Adult Journal Page – Adult Journal Page – The First Passover

Kid’s Journal Page – Kid’s Journal Page – The First Passover

Blank Journal Pages – Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Word Search: The First Passover Word Search  Answers: The First Passover Word Search Answers

Crossword: The First Passover Crossword  Answers: The First Passover Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: The First Passover Word Scramble  Answers: The First Passover Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: The First Passover Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: The First Passover Memory Verse

How Many Words: The First Passover How Many Words

Passover Lamb Activity Sheet: The First Passover Activity Sheet

Sunday School Lesson – “The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles” John 2:1-12

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VERSE DISCOVERY: John 2:1-12 (KJV, Public Domain)

As romance filled the air and the town rejoiced in the jubilant affair, the birthing of miracles was about to take place.

Brides and grooms have many different ideas and wishes for their special day. Some people like nighttime candle-lit themes, while others like weddings outside at the beach. For some, the ceremony is short and sweet. For others, like the Jews in Jesus’ day, it could be a weeklong celebratory event involving everyone they knew.

No matter the weddings you have seen or even dreamed of, this wedding in Cana, on that day, was set apart from the rest as an absolute original, never to be repeated again. It became more than the wedding of the century. It became one whose story has been told time and time again. 

What marked this wedding as a worthy-to-be-passed-down story had nothing to do with design, theme, or the expense of the affair. But, because the extraordinary happened during this seemingly ordinary event, this wedding is remembered forever in history.

Take it to Jesus

John 2:1-4 “And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.  And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.”

At this wedding, “the mother of Jesus was there” in attendance already, supposed by some that she was personally involved in the celebration. It could be that she was a relative or a close friend of the family who had members that were to be married that day. Jesus also was “called, and his disciples, to the marriage” giving even more reason to believe that Mary and Jesus had close ties with these newlyweds. As the festivities got underway, at some point, Mary and supposedly the hosts of the affair realized there was a shortage of an essential staple present at these events, the “wine.”

This family in this remote village (where purchasing more wine in abundance, at a moment’s notice, was probably not an option) would know no small embarrassment at the lack of wine during such an auspicious occasion. This could be viewed as a huge social blunder and a reason for scorn and derision for the family involved. Not to mention the possibility of the bridegroom and his bride being mocked on what was supposed to be the happiest day of their life.

They are the ones who were to be celebrated that day, yet because of this misstep in failing to carefully plan for the event and the number of people in attendance, they would be ridiculed, to say the least. Such an error in a culture known for these elaborate feasts and gatherings (weddings during that time could last up to a week), where hospitality was key, would not soon be forgotten. They had social obligations and expectations from those in attendance that needed to be filled.

Mary, whom we are already supposing to have close ties to the family with the dilemma, does what any good Christian should do when facing a crisis: she took the problem to Jesus.

She approached Him and said, what seems to be in a pretty straightforward fashion, “They have no wine.” Can one image her wringing her hands as she realizes the scorn this family could face when the blunder becomes known? Then, could it be that the worry lines that started to stretch across her face began to disappear as she laid eyes on her son, the Son of God, who held all the answers she needed?

Why else did she seek out Jesus? She knew He could do something to remedy the situation. There is an old saying that “familiarity breeds contempt,” meaning those closest to you do not respect you as much as others would because they know too much about you. But, in this case, it is because Mary knew emphatically the realness of who Jesus is and His true identity, that she had no qualms about seeking His help in the time of this desperate situation.

Jesus respectfully replied to His mother’s query for help, saying, “Woman, what have it to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come,” (vs. 4). There is a right time and season for all things. Isn’t that what the book of Ecclesiastes tells us (see Ecc. 3)? Therefore, would not He who was present before time began and will be present when time on this earth comes to an end have a good handle on when it is the right time for Him to act or not?

Jesus has always had a keen idea on His “hour” (compare Matthew 26:18, 45 and John 12:23). What He was asked to do and what He was about to do would usher in a no turning back moment, propelling Him full speed ahead into His earthly ministry toward that end result found on Calvary’s hill. Everything had to be done precisely and according to His “hour.” This would be a visually identifying moment for Him that would begin to reveal, publicly, His true identity not only to His mother but to the world in wait for the Messiah to appear.

Do What He Says

John 2:5-8 “His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.  And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.  Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.  And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.”

His mother was not put off or dismayed at His response. In fact, she acted confidently in faith that He would offer some solution to the problem at hand. Turning to the servants who were present with her, she simply stated, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it” (vs. 5).

Did she overstep herself? I don’t believe so. I believe if she had, Jesus would have simply chosen not to perform the miracle at all. In fact, I think she acted with the boldness of all she knew Him to be.

From time to time, throughout His life growing up, she must have pondered the time when she received the news from the angel Gabriel of the Child she would give birth to. Back when he initially spoke to her, informing her that He “shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:32). Back when he spoke, “that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35), her mind must have traveled from time to time. It may be possible that thoughts such as these have carried her through some difficult days and gave her pause to remember that He, her Son, being the “Son of God,” was everything that God was and is.

Social obligations and expectations aside, she knew in her heart that He could fix the problem at hand because of who He was and confidently told those in service to follow His orders. With that, we are supposing she went on about the business of helping out with the wedding, leaving everything in the hands of Jesus.

If you will allow me to interject here for a moment, didn’t Mary do exactly what the Word encourages saints to do with every problem: take it to Jesus and leave it there? Are we not told in Psalm 55:22 and 1 Peter 5:7 to “cast” our burdens and cares on the Lord? Give Him what is troubling us because He cares about the problems we face? Mary became a great, real-life illustration of how to do just that.

Now, back to our lesson.

Jesus answered her request. Noticing the “six waterpots of stone” at hand for ceremonial “purifying of the Jews,” Jesus instructed the servants to “Fill the waterpots with water.”

Each of these vessels held about 20-30 gallons of fluid, depending on the size and shape of the vessel. They were there for the purpose of ritual washings. Here, they may have been made available for guest to wash their hands before eating. Possibly water from these vessels would be poured out and used for some guests who may have had their feet washed upon entering the house, as we see explained in other Bible stories (ex. Jesus washing the disciples feet at the Last Supper).

No matter the reason they were there, now they would become vessels for the Master’s use. Jesus was going to employ these ordinary containers to hold and pour out a miracle for people to enjoy.

The first step toward that miracle is to do exactly as Mary said. To reiterate, she said, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” The servants who would carry out the details of this miracle had to obey the voice of Jesus. No obedience = no miracle. (Side note: This almost became a hindrance in Naaman receiving his healing from leprosy when he initially refused to do as instructed until one of his own men pushed the idea that he should follow and obey the voice of the prophet – see 2 Kings 5 for full story).

Obedience enjoined with faith equals miracles. On many occasions of performing miracles, Jesus just did what needed to be done and healed, delivered, or set free. At the same time, on other occasions, His instructions being followed was pivotal in receiving said miracle (see John 9:7). Therefore, “they filled them up to the brim,” (vs. 7). The servants carried out Jesus’ commands leaving no room at the top. Jesus said fill them up and fill them up they did.

Jesus then instructed them to “Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast.” We do not know if the servants could visibly, at this point, still see water in the pots or if they saw wine. The “governor of the feast” was the man in charge of all that was taking place during the celebration. Were the servants actually being asked to serve the governor water to drink from a cleansing pot? They may have wondered.

Experience the Results

John 2:9-12 “When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.  This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.  After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.”

I personally believe that there still appeared to be water in the pots to the servant, and this too was a step of faith in obedience. The reason I believe this is because verse 9 tells us, “but the servants which drew the water knew,” indicating that it was still water when they took it out of the vessels and gave it to the governor. They, and the governor, were astonished at the results (even though the governor did not previously know where the wine came from – vs. 9).

Pulling the “bridegroom” aside, the governor exclaimed, “Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now,” (vs. 10). The governor was under the impression that the bridegroom had kept the best for last. But this wasn’t the case at all. The bridegroom and his party ran out of supplies to keep the celebration in full operation. They were finished and set up to be a social embarrassment.

Jesus stepped in to rescue and remedied the situation in what is noted as the “beginning of miracles” He did in “Cana of Galilee.” Jesus did not save the best for last. He totally transformed the ordinary into the extraordinary, making water become the best wine anyone had ever tasted. This, my friends, is a bonafide miracle. He supernaturally made what wasn’t into what was before them now.

The real end result was not to get the best tasting wine possible. Rather, when those disciples who were with Him saw what He did, it encouraged and strengthened their faith in Him, and they “believed on him” all the more.

In what seems to be a minor miracle (I think not) to some, compared to others that would shortly follow, really was something terrific that “manifested forth his glory” to those around Him. Jesus was not a mere man trying to gain a crowd to follow Him. These men witnessed His power in action for the first time, and it was astounding. No one who was not approved by God, no one who was not God in the flesh could alter the structure of something as simple as water, and create it to be something totally different as wine.

We must keep in mind that what was given to the governor was not water that tasted like wine; rather, it was real, and official wine. Normally, this comes about through the grapevines with fruit that has been harvested and pressed and aged for a time. But when Jesus gets ahold of simple H2O, He created it to be something it wasn’t or didn’t have the structure to be. That’s a miracle!

No wonder their faith was encouraged by what they saw. This was one of the purposes for the miracles that Jesus did. They validated Him to the world seeking a Savior. Later in John 10:38, Jesus says, “Though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.”

Only the Son of God can do such things as these, and that’s a cause for belief in Him, all by itself.

After the wedding celebration, Jesus “went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days,” (vs. 12). From this point on, Jesus became fully engulfed in His earthly ministry.

“Capernaum,” at this time, was a respite before heading to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration (see John 2:13).

It was there at Jerusalem where Jesus became displeased and angry over what was going on in His Father’s house and flipped the tables of the merchants (see John 2:16). The disciples that were with Him at this time were clued in even more to His true identity by what they witnessed (see John 2:17), and even more miracles were performed that attested to the fact of who He really was (see John 2:23).

“Capernaum” later would serve as a major place of activity during His earthly ministry, including more miracles. It was there where the centurion asked for help for his servant, and Jesus sent healing his way (see Matthew 8:5-13). It was there, where Peter was instructed to look in the mouth of a fish for money to pay tribute (see Matthew 17:24-27).

What started with wine would eventually end with His blood flowing from Calvary’s cross. The truest of all miracles performed by the Lord who washed our black sins whiter than snow through His red blood offered as a Lamb sacrificed in our place.

Amazing!

PDF Full Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes and other ideas available.): Sunday School Lesson – The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles

Suggested Activities:

Believe or Don’t Believe game opener. Do an internet search of extreme or what would seem to be unbelievable facts.  Have ideas that are real and some that are false.  These ideas can be from multiple sources such as unusual or weird stories (within reason), different weather events, historical facts or clothing, natural phenomenon, and so forth. Things that may seem outrageous but are hard to tell if it’s true or not.

Make paddles to use for this game. It can be something as simple as paper plates attached to large craft sticks, or you can use the paddle printable found below.  Have enough to give each student or team two paddles each.  On one paddle, have the word Believe written on it, and on the other paddle write the words Don’t Believe.

On a chart, chalkboard, or whiteboard write the name of your students (or teams if you have a larger class) to keep score.  Start presenting the ideas you found from your internet search.  Ask your students on the count of three to show, using their paddles, if they believe or don’t believe the statement you just made.  The student or team who has the most correct answers at the end of the game wins.

Lead into the lesson:  When discussing the miracles of Jesus that are recorded in the Word of God, we must believe that they are one hundred percent true.  Many who came to Jesus for their special needs to be met knew that He could do something to remedy their situation.  Today, we hold on to the truth of those wonderful miracles He performed, and we let them encourage our own faith walk.

Believe Don’t Believe Paddles: Printables found here.  Printing on cardstock is best or glue paddles to construction paper for stability before attaching to craft sticks.

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles

Blank Journal Page: These pages, one designed for adults and one for children, can be used to bring out, remember, or write a particular part of the lesson you wish for you and/or your class to focus on.  Click>>Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages to access the journal pages.

Draw the Scene: The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles Memory Verse

Word Search: The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles Word Search  Answers: The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles Word Search Answers

Crossword: The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles Crossword  Answers: The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles Word Scramble  Answers: The Beginning of Jesus’ Miracles Word Scramble Answers

 

 

Sunday School Lesson – “4 Ways to Use Words Better” James 3:1-12; Isaiah 50:4

4 ways to use words better - pagemodo pic

4 Ways to Use Words Better Title pic-001

Our words are powerful!  As this lesson shows, they can be used to hurt or to heal; to edify or to tear down.  James wants us to choose life with the words that we speak.

VERSE DISCOVERY: James 3:1-12; Isaiah 50:4 (KJV, Public Domain)

Simon says, “Close your mouth!”  We all know the game.  Whatever Simon tells us to do, we do it lest we fear being counted out.  Oh, if only it were that easy to take command of some of our loose actions in life, such as ones that regard the mouth.  And yet, throughout the Bible, we are commanded to use our speech patterns in healthy and productive ways.  Not to be instruments for destruction and tearing one another down.

There is so much power bound up in the way that we talk.  Proverbs 18:21 tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”  Whatever is produced from our lips generates fruit.  Stuff grows, for the good or the bad, from what we say.

James is admonishing us to be mindful of the words that come out of our mouth for with them we can lift someone’s day, or we can emotionally kill them. 

What we say makes a difference in the lives of others.  Our mouths are vessels of influence. 

James 3 unpacks the truth of the power of the tongue and how people of faith should be cautious in how they unleash it. 

Using Isaiah 50:4 as a companion Scripture with those found in James 3, this lesson will uncover four ways all of us can strive to use our words better.

 1. Realizing the Weight of Your Words

James 3:1 “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.”

At the beginning of this lesson, I believe this is where many of us drop the ball, so to speak, in trying to improve our speech patterns toward others.  Many do not realize the weight of the words they speak and the impact those very words can have on the hearers.  Even if one is not trying to be purposely offensive, they would do well to think before speaking, asking oneself if the words that are about to come out of my mouth, necessary and/or helpful.  This step none can overlook, whether they are leaders or laypeople.  The responsibility of our words is just that, our responsibility.

So, starting with the leaders, James teaches, “Be not many masters.”  When it comes to bearing any title of leadership, often many will focus on prestige and tend to overlook the responsibility that comes with the job.  The Bible warns us, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48).  There is a higher level of accountability for “masters” or “teachers.”  Those endued with the power to magnify the gospel in such a way must be particularly careful in how they use words.

Words are powerful and need to be measured out carefully.  One of the devices that Jesus’s enemies tried to employ against Him was to catch or trap Him in what He said.  Matthew 22:15 says, “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.”  One’s words can testify for or against an individual.  “Masters” and those in leadership carry the added weight of accountability for their words for the increased impact they can make.

This office is not to be taken lightly, for James said, “Knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.”  At this level, there is a higher standard of living expected for the one who bears the title, and James included himself in this by saying, “we”.  Proverbs 10:11 says, “The mouth of the righteous man is a well of life.”  Those who belong to God and work at sharing His word must especially be careful that what is coming out of them is speaking “life” to the ears of the hearers (more on this later).

James 3:2 “For in many things we offend all.  If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” 

In your mind, raise your hand if you have ever messed up or “offend” another.  One of the easiest ways to “offend” and harm another is through the mouth.  People often speak rashly in the heat of the moment and without carefully considering the impact their words have on another.  These emotional outbursts cause us to come up with phrases like “My mouth ran away with me” and so forth.  On those occasions, the use of the mouth was not employed as a tool for edifying, rather just the opposite.

But the one that can control his speech is considered “a perfect man.”  Since the tongue is often known as “running away” on its own, the one that exercises great restraint over this defiant member is considered “able also to bridle the whole body.”  It is the taming of what some view as being untamable.   He or she who can moderate or put limits on something so difficult to deal with can often show great restraint in other areas of life.  “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth His life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction,” is what we find in Proverbs 13:3a.  If one can keep their mouth under control, they can often hold tight elsewhere, avoiding destructive patterns that would work to tear them down.

In both verses quoted above, we see the weight of words and their impact is the sole responsibility of the one speaking, regardless of their title or not.  What we say out of our mouths carries so much with it and, it would behoove us to use our words wisely, chew on it a bit before we say it, and think critically, if what we are about to say is needful for that particular moment.

2. Learn to Tame the Tongue

James 3:3-4 “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths,  that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.  Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.”

James gives us the best possible illustrations on the power of the tongue by referencing it to two things his readers, as well as modern-day readers, can easily understand.  Through these two examples: one of a horse and another of a ship, James shows that man has, down through the years, discovered ways to bring these powerful objects under control.  For the horse, it is using a “bit” in its mouth and, for a ship, “a very small helm.” 

Both instruments are used for controlling other things.  They both direct the course of which way the operator wants each to go, be it a rider or “the governor.”  Both are great examples of how these large, and strong objects, can be made to comply with the will of the one who is controlling that little, vital piece.  If there are these little things that can move great objects into obeisance at its master’s will, what more of the little tongue?

James 3:5-6 “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.”

Just as those little instruments are applied to the horse and ships, the body has a little thing that tries to control it also: “the tongue.” 

First, it “boasteth great things.”  The tongue edifies itself.  It magnifies the capabilities of its owner whether or not they really can do something.  The tongue is swollen with pride.  Have you ever seen an owner walk a little tiny dog with the biggest yipper on it, tugging and tugging the leash?  Or have you walked past a yard to the tune of relentless barking thanks to a peewee-sized dog?  These little ones are tenacious in letting you know who they are.  These pint-sized sweeties have no problem in letting the world know that they are here, and they mean business.

Our tongues often act in the same way.  It is so small, and it has so much to bark about.  Yet, this barking, used in a nonproductive and selfish way, makes a lot of noise, and can lead to great destruction.

Secondly, James taught, “how great a matter a little fire kindleth!  And the tongue is a fire.”  It only takes a small flame to bring on a raging inferno.  I often watch coverage on the news of fires that burn uncontrollably.  They are huge.  They are massive walls of orange-red destruction, eating and devouring everything in its path.  But they never start out that big.  Their origin is relatively small in comparison to the size they have grown to be.

James said, “And the tongue is a fire.”  The tongue can be the source of destruction that wreaks havoc on the things that get in its way.  It can chop and devour until it has consumed some with sorrow and some with despair when wrongly used.  The tongue can lash out and cause irreparable damage to the ears of its hearer if not used properly.

James described it as “a world of iniquity.”  Proverbs 10:19 says, “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.”  A lot of running off at the mouth gives many opportunities for sin to rear its ugly head.  When the tongue is let loose, it lashes about without regard for hurt, feelings, or the devastation it leaves behind.  Like a whirling tornado, it ravishes, spinning around and around in sinfulness, wiping out all in its path.

Without restraint, all it knows how to do is upheaval.  Without being restrained, the tongue “defileth the whole body.”  Jesus taught, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh,” (Luke 6:45).  With that, we see that whatever comes out of the mouth, gives evidence to what already resides in the heart or the “body.” 

James 3:7-8 “For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:  But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”

Man, through the blessed ingenuity that God has given him, has developed ways to tame just about everything.  Yes, our lesson focuses on the taming of animals and birds, right down to the taming of serpents.  But, when we think about it, man has been able to take control of or tame many more things.  Since the Bible days, man has even found ways to harness energy through many means, including using the sun’s power.  Man has developed many ways to use the power of nature, such as wind and water, to harness their energies to benefit humanity.

Though he has been able to do so many feats (think of all the inventions through the years), the Bible says, “the tongue can no man tame.” It speaks to the “unruly evil” that it truly is.  It testifies to the power that it holds in its little self.  It is liken as being “full of deadly poison.”  Its work can destroy to the point of no return.  No wonder James’s warning is so strong and so severe.  Christians must learn how to put reins on this evil and stop its destructive ways.

Taming the tongue begins with not only monitoring one’s mouth but the things in the heart.  For the mouth cannot speak what the heart is not feeling.  Proverbs commands us, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (4:23).  The word “keep” can be used in the same sense as “guard” or “monitor.”  When the heart is kept and dealt with rightly, so too will the words which flow from it.

One day, each one of us will give an account for everything that proceeds from our mouths (Matthew 12:36-37).  As God’s children, we must not be reckless in the use of our words.  Taming the tongue means working hard to make sure your mouth is as a “well of life” (Proverbs 10:11) and that the words we speak be words of grace and helpful to the hearers thereof (Colossians 4:6; see also Ephesians 4:29).

3. Speak to Give Life

James 3:9-10 “Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.  Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.  My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”

In the beginning, God spoke His most beautiful words of creation: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26).  Verse 27 goes on to say, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”  These words professed the climax of His creation.  These words speak volumes of the love relationship that God wanted to have with man who was made “in his own image,” or as today’s lesson says, “after the similitude of God.” 

“Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.”  The conundrum of man is that we love the Lord and seek to bless Him, but sometimes our attitude toward His creation, our fellow man, can cause us to have disgruntled feelings that may turn to cursing.  “These things ought not so to be,” James said.  That is not the way we are to behave toward one another.

1 John 4:20 says it like this, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”  Love for God and hate toward man equals “blessing” and “cursing.” Those two cannot, and should not, exist together.  They are incompatible roommates.  They are not a good fit to dwell in the same domain with each other.

James 3:11-12 “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?  Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.”

To further illustrate this puzzling aspect of man to try and bless and curse from the same vessel, James points out things in nature that cannot happen, that are incompatible.  First, he uses “water” to demonstrate.  Can a water fountain bring sweet water and bitter from the same place?  Can a fountain have both salt water and fresh water?  The answer is an obvious no.  The same is true for looking for olives on the fig tree or figs on a vine where grapes would be.  It does not happen.

Nature is not confused about what it is to produce.  A fig tree is designed by God to bear fig fruit.  The same is true for olives and such.  If nature knows what it should produce, so should the Christians to whom James is writing.  They are to not act out of character to the way that God designed them.

In dealing with our speech toward others, we must be mindful of building up rather than tearing down.  Proverbs 15:4 reminds us that, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life…” Think about that for a minute.  The words that we speak about and to one another can bring healing to a hurting soul.  That is powerful!  Our speech goes beyond just saying words; they exhibit and send forth “life.”

Who are we raising to “life” with a timely and sincere word?  Are people enriched for the good when they sit down to have a chat with us or do they walk away feeling extra heavy and burdened down?  These things make a difference.  Not only do they make a difference to the one whom we are conversing with, but they also speak for us how closely we are walking in tune with our Savior and how He dealt with individuals daily.  On that note, on to our fourth point in this lesson.

4. Mimic the Speech of Jesus

Isaiah 50:4 “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.”

If one seems to come short of all other attempts to use productive and positive speech patterns, all you have to do is look at Jesus and see what He did and how He communicated to those He came into contact with.

If one is going to learn how to use the tongue healthily, the best example is that of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus had all the right words at the right time.  He knew how to speak compassion when it was needed most.  He knew how to speak conviction in truth without berating another.  And Jesus knew how to speak life.

Jumping out of the New Testament and going back to the old, there we see the prophesied Servant, whom we know to be the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ, and in Isaiah 50:4, He talks about the words He uses and the way He uses them to speak.  There He says, “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary…” 

It amazes me how many people think they have something to offer and are quick to verbalize those very thoughts and ideas.  Never do we see Jesus in the Bible using words in a frivolous or lackadaisical manner.  We have already expressed the preciousness of words and how they are used, and Jesus, just as His Father, knew the value of words and used them as such.

Jesus’ heart was always, and I do mean always, to do the will of the Father (John 6:38).  In everything, right down to going to the cross, God’s will was His number one priority (Luke 22:42).  With the will of God governing His whole life and ministry, even the words He spoke had to be what “The Lord GOD hath given me.” 

In Isaiah, that which was given is described as “the tongue of the learned”; as one who had been taught by God what to say and how to say it.  You can speak something true, but how the message is delivered can affect how one receives it or not.

In John 12:50, Jesus said, “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.  And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.”

Jesus never used words in a fly-away fashion.  With everything He spoke, it was either with a purpose, for a purpose, or to fulfill a purpose – or all three in one.

When we think of “with a purpose”, we can think along the lines of healing, miracles, and deliverances.  Jesus, in those instances, spoke with the intent to deliver an individual from some illness, spiritual oppression, or to perform a miracle such as the feeding of the five thousand.

When we think in terms of “for a purpose”, we can think along the lines of the parables He taught.  In those instances, He spoke for His audience to gain a greater understanding of something, particularly Kingdom principles.

And, when we think in terms of Jesus speaking to “fulfill a purpose”, we can easily associate this with prophecies such as the one He spoke from the cross: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).  Those exact words open the Messianic psalm found in Psalm 22:1.

By the way, the verses quoted above in John 12:49, 50 could also be looked at in a fulfilling fashion because they fulfilled our verse of study in Isaiah 50:4 regarding the use of His speech.

Jesus used His words with exactness and preciseness.  Back in Isaiah, we see His words were carefully chosen “that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.”  The right words at the right time, especially for the weary worn, are a special kind of sweetness to a soul that dreadfully needs it.  Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones,” and nobody could do this better than the Lord Jesus Christ.  He said, “…the word that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life,” (John 6:63).

Then, in Isaiah, He goes on to explain, “he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.”  It was a daily thing for Jesus to have His ear tuned into the Father’s mouth, to hear what He has to say and express the very words He “learned.” 

In concluding this lesson, this last section may seem overwhelming in learning to speak like Jesus in this manner.  But, if we take everything into consideration and then look at what James taught earlier in his book: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” (James 1:19), following this, may help us to learn to have an ear as the Servant (Jesus), and be able to speak with words of grace (Ephesians 4:29).

Our words are powerful!  As this lesson shows, they can be used to hurt or to heal; to edify or to tear down.  James wants us to choose life with the words that we speak.  He wants us to take the high road and control of what is coming out of our mouths.  If we need help, we can pray the prayer of the psalmist and say, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Ps. 141:3).

What we say and how we talk to one another really does matter.  It is all about how we use our words and to learn daily to use them better.

PDF Full Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes and other ideas available.): Sunday School Lesson – 4 Ways to Use Words Better

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Speaking Collage Craft: This craft is perfect if you have old newspaper comics strips laying around.  Just cut them out and glue onto construction paper to make a collage of many different ones together (I prefer the ones with word balloons on them to demonstrate speaking).  In the middle, attach our cut-out picture verse printable for James 3:10 declaring, “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be”  found here.

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Sunday School Lesson – “Pursuing the Good Fight of Faith” 1 Timothy 6:11-21

Pursuing the Good Fight of Faith title pic-001

VERSE DISCOVERY: 1 Timothy 6:11-21 (KJV, Public Domain)

In case you didn’t know, we are in a competition like no other.  The world, as God originally designed it, was good.  But through the course of time, as evil entered the world, this place that we call our physical home has become a contentious place.  It has become a battleground where a spiritual war is being waged every day and the target of the main attacks is our faith.

If you have ever heard someone use phrases of exasperation over the struggles they are facing, you get the sense that what they are involved in at that moment or what they are dealing with is extremely hard.  The way they are trying to go or the thing they are trying to accomplish at that time is not easy; rather, it comes with the press of extra effort to get done what they need to get done to make it through.

No truer is this than in the adherence of and the push to maintain our Christian faith.  In a world bent on opposing us with its lack of values and moral character, and with spiritual enemies all around, we are in a fight to keep firm in what we believe.

But keep firm we must.  We are called to be proactive in protecting and walking in our faith.  We must be diligent in our obedience to God as we hold on to our confession and confidence in the One who “…hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son,” (Colossians 1:13). 

What God has given us through Jesus Christ is too good to let go of now and the reward up ahead is greater than one can imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9) and it is eternal.  We must strive to not let the flow of this world influence us or make us waver in our faith.

This lesson is a bold message for us to hold on to what we believe.  To pursue after and fight the good fight of faith, and never let it go.  Pursuing the good fight of faith requires something from us.  In this lesson, I will cover six specific topics of personal accountability for the one who is pressing forth and pursuing the good fight of faith.

 1. Our Inward Commitment

1 Timothy 6:11 “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”

In the verses leading up to the lesson text, Paul, in his letter to Timothy, encourages him in his role as pastor of the church of Ephesus.  In this role of leadership, Timothy would be responsible for how things are ordered or conducted in the church.  As one to whom others would look up to, spiritual discipline would be of the highest order because it not only testifies of the leader before the congregation, but it teaches the congregation how to act before the world.  All with the end purpose of drawing more people to believe in Jesus Christ through their living testimonies.

In chapter 6 particularly, some of the issues Paul points out for teaching edification revolves around the idea of contentment, erroneous teaching and beliefs, and the warning of the love of money and how it has already caused some to “err from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).  For these, Paul wants Timothy to be on guard from these practices while pursuing and protecting his faith.

“But thou, O man of God.”  Let us pause here for a moment and pay attention to that word “but.”  In contrast to what Paul has already described as the wrong way some are following, the word “but” serves as a sifting agent for the one whose identity is tied up in God.  In baking, sifting is used to separate, and as a “man of God,” Timothy particularly had to make sure his actions were separated from the things that would dim his testimony before the world instead of edifying the God he served.  In other words, he was saying, “Timothy, you are different, and I want you to act differently, talk differently and walk differently in the pursuit of your faith.  Don’t do what they are doing but let your testimony before God and the world be of truer stuff.”  For that to happen, Paul lays out some specifics for Timothy, and those in Christ, to follow.

“Flee these things.”  Disassociate yourself from the wrongdoings of others.  The word “flee” gives great urgency to get away from there.  High tail it out of there like never before!  Do not give opportunity for the seed of evil that comes from hanging around that stuff to have a chance to plant in you.  In other words, “RUN!”

The effects of hanging around these sinful behaviors or pondering them in one’s heart, if continually being exposed to it, can ravage the faith of a believer.  If you touch fire, you are going to get burned.  The best way to avoid getting burned is to not expose yourself to the fire in the first place. Many don’t realize it, but in pursuing the good fight of faith, it means one needs to take themselves away from things that can cripple their walk with the Lord.

While Timothy is to turn away from those things that can be damaging to one’s faith, Paul counterbalances his teachings for the things Timothy should be seeking because what one is turning to is just as important as what one is turning away from.

Timothy and every Christian’s life will be characterized by what they “follow after”; by the things they pursue.  Rather than going after the things others are going after like money and materialistic things that those in the world are looking for, Paul teaches Timothy and us what are the better things to seek in our lives.

With that, he makes this list of things to pursue: “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness,” all designed to govern our relationship with God and with each other.  They not only show the inner commitment we are to have toward God in the right things we pursue, keeping His ways as a priority in all that we do in our lives, to believe in them and adhere to them through it all, but they also show us how to respond to circumstances and people through the production of the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).

2. Our Upward Focus

1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”

So, Paul teaches, “Fight the good fight of faith.”  Fighting the good fight of faith is not about putting your dukes up.  It is all about putting your faith up.  It is more about taking a stand than taking a punch.  It’s ordering one’s life and steps according to the will of God for our lives (Psalms 119:133).  It is running the race of this Christian life and competing in this spiritual contest, pushing toward the finish line with every ounce of effort one possesses because there is a wonderful goal up ahead.

While we are pushing forth in the defense and protection and adherence to what we believe, we are doing so with the intent of laying hold of a prize.  Our prize is the “eternal life” we are living in hopes of.  At the end of any contest, at the end of the struggle, there is something wonderful we are looking forward to.  Our stand through all we are facing here is in light of the victory we are promised to gain in the end: “eternal life.”

Heaven belongs to the believers.  Life eternal is the ultimate prize for the one who refuses to give in or give up; to the one who does not get entangled by the things of this world others are chasing after (compare 2 Timothy 2:4).  That’s why Jesus once taught, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life…” (John 6:27).  We have something better than money; we have something better than the materialistic things and social status’ down here to lay hold of.

Our purpose in being “called” and of having this “profession” of faith, is to pursue the things of God.  To be God-focused and heaven-focused, not world-focused and getting caught up in the things we presently see.  It is pushing past every contention here while keeping an upward focus for our future.

3. Our Outward Responsibility

1 Timothy 6:13 “I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;”

Our testimony before others matters and it is our responsibility to represent our Lord well. Therefore, in the strongest terms, Paul tells Timothy, “I give thee charge in the sight of God.”  If you have ever attended a graduation ceremony you may hear the word “charge” being used during the occasion when the higher-ups of the learning institution instruct the graduating class on how to apply their newfound knowledge with responsibility.  This is a word that Paul has chosen to use several times in his letter to Timothy to invoke the seriousness of all he is relaying to him.

And, to punctuate his statement even more with its importance, he is delivering this message before the same All-Mighty, Sovereign, and Supreme God of all the universe that breathes life into every being (“quickeneth”) and “Christ Jesus” who stood blameless with His “good confession” before “Pontius Pilate”, never wavering in what He spoke or knew was the truth.  Our Lord never raised the white flag of surrender, not even through the most difficult thing He would ever face.  Timothy, and all Christians alike, are to follow the example of our Lord with that same fierceness of our “good confession”. 

1 Timothy 6:14 “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:”

With that, Paul continues to encourage Timothy to “keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable.”  Continue forth in the press of your faith; continue to live a life above reproach and accusation.  When Jesus comes back at His “appearing” (second coming), He’s coming back for a church “not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish,” (Ephesians 5:27).

Yes, that might not meld well with the current culture of the world, but in Christ, we are not living to please the culture of this world; rather, we are living for a higher life and that requires the discipline of maintaining and keeping the faith without fail against all adversaries, including the flesh.  We who are called by His name are called to live like Him.  “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked,” (1 John 2:6, see also 1 Peter 1:13-25; Matthew 5:48).  Our faith is on display as an example of the Christ we follow.  What people see being performed outwardly in our lives will speak volumes more than any message we could ever preach verbally.

4. Our Spiritual Readiness

1 Timothy 6:15-16 “Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;  Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”

For when He comes “in his times,” all will see Him as He truly is.  We do not know the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36), but Peter teaches us, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…” (2 Peter 3:10).

Once, I wrote:

“Preoccupation with this world has so many in its clutches and has lulled multitudes into a false sense of security.  How many of our waking hours are spent on the temporary trappings of now instead of the glory that awaits our future?  Our time on this earthly sojourn is not infinite.  Time will pass.  Days will turn to night and eventually, at our proper time, we will step into eternity or as the older folk used to say, when Jesus cracks the sky – it will all be over.

Will we be ready or caught unawares?” (I Come Quickly/Word for Life Says)

Paul wants Timothy, and every Christian, to be aware of not only the life they are living, but the times they are living in, and the time they are living for.  Be ready.

Know that is God the Father is the “only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords,” meaning He, as noted above in verse 13, is supremely Sovereign, with all authority over all (Revelation 19:6).  The Lord reigns, the Bible tells us (Psalms 93:1; 97:1; 99:1)!  He is “the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple,” (Isaiah 66:1).  He is God alone!

Scripture shows us that the Lord Jesus Christ is also known and called by the same description/title (noted above) being attributed to Him (Revelation 17:14; 19:16), and the Bible also encourages us in His power and authority (compare Colossians 2:10) and that we can take heart because our faith is complete in Him!  We are told, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth; And every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Phil. 2:10-11).  He will be acknowledged as King forever.  The everlasting King will rule forever, and all will “bow the knee” in honor and recognition of who He really is!

God “hath immortality” meaning death and everything that comes with it can never be imposed on Him or appropriated to Him as to others.  Not that He simply just cannot die, but the very fact that His immortality is who He is, He is explicitly incapable of doing what is against the very nature and make up of Himself.    “From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God,” (Psalm 90:2).  As God in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16; see also John 1:14, 1 John 1:2), Jesus Christ is conqueror over death.  2 Timothy 1:10 tells us, “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  Life everlasting is found in Christ who lives forever (see Hebrews 7:24).  Hold on to your faith that you may live eternally with Him!

God is He who is that “light which no man can approach unto.”  The Bible reminds us of the story of Moses asking to see God’s face, His glory, just how impossible this was (read Exodus 33:18-20).  Christ is where God is in that glorious place and it is God’s glory that illuminates all of heaven (see Revelation 21:23).  It is a place too wonderful for man to obtain on his/her own; whom without Christ, we would not be admitted into the presence of God.  Keep pursuing and fighting the good fight of faith that you may be able to enter in to be with Him “whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”

5. Our Quest for the Greater Gain

1 Timothy 6:17-19 “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;  That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;  Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches.”  In light of all of this, teach people what is the greater gain, Timothy!  Wealth, notoriety, social status, and the things the world applauds are not what counts.  They are fleeting and will pass away.  “For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?” (Proverbs 27:24).  Nothing we accumulate here will last forever.  Therefore, don’t put your trust in things but put your trust in the God “who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;” who gave you those things in the first place.

And, when He blesses, use those blessings, not just for yourself, but turn them into “good works” by sharing and positively impacting the lives of others.  Part of fighting the good fight of faith is using what we have to lift others and offer help and support when and where it is needed; not be self-focused, but others-focused.

This, in turn, benefits us spiritually as well in the long run.  For we are “laying up in store… a good foundation against the time to come.”  With “eternal life” ever-present in the mind of the believer, that one lives with not only their own life of faith in their hearts but with the concern of others there as well.  What we do in the here and now impacts our future to come.

6. Our Standing in the Truth

1 Timothy 6:20-21 “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:  Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.”

Therefore, Timothy, “Keep that which is committed to thy trust.”  All that Paul is teaching Timothy, all that entails this life of faith, Timothy is to pursue it, fight for it, and guard against anything contaminating it such as “profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.”  There was a lot of talk with a lot of false teaching that Timothy was to guard himself and guard the faith against.  Everything that sounds good is not good.  Timothy, hold on to the truth and fight to stand in it!

Even though some “professing have erred concerning the faith,” meaning having been drawn away into believing what is false, you Timothy, continue in the good fight of faith.

The world today is full of false teachings that may sound right, but if it does not match up with the Word of God in its entirety, it is false, and we would do good to stay away from it, too.

As Timothy is, so are we to be just as diligent in our press for our faith.  Our prize for a race well-run is set in the Heavenlies where it will neither tarnish nor fade with time but will last into all eternity.  May we pursue after and fight the good fight of faith that we too may gain that greater reward.

PDF Full Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Pursuing the Good Fight of Faith

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Craft: Collage Craft: In the lesson, Paul described six practices for Timothy and all Christians to follow in verse 11. Find pictures from old magazine, books, comics, etc. and make a collage of examples of each of these practices being used.  For an alternate activity, use The Good Fight of Faith Comic Strip activity page for students to draw these examples instead.

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Sunday School Lesson – “The Whole Armor of God” Ephesians 6:10-20

VERSE DISCOVERY: Ephesians 6:10-20 (KJV, Public Domain)

Being caught unawares, is there anything worse?  Can we effectively stand against opposition when opposition seems to have all the fighting power?  How can we successfully be soldiers in the army of the Lord without any weapons?  Are we going to be ready, when, not if, the occasion arises to fight?  Are we openly prepared to enter this battle?

Know that what you want to accomplish will not easily be handed over to you in this Christian life, and while you are contending for it you will need some backup.  Make no mistake about it, we are in profoundly serious times.  More and more we find ourselves knowingly facing the oppressor of this world.  Are we ready for the challenge?  Are we armed and ready for this fight?

In serving God there will be times of contests and contentions, and to enter any field or times as uncertain as these, one needs weapons.  God has made provisions that we should have everything we need to fight, and to win.

Adversity will raise its head.  It is up to us to be properly equipped to counteract its rising.

This lesson looks at Ephesians 6:10-20, which is a familiar portion of Scripture.  Here, the Apostle Paul tells of what we can expect to be contending with and then he releases valuable information of all the powerful weapons/resources we can adorn ourselves with to have a victorious outcome.

Please Note:  Do not let the familiarity of these verses cause you to pass by on a great learning opportunity to gain more insight into this fight we are in.  In this lesson, there are powerful truths that can be applied to our lives and the spiritual battles we face.

Learning how to stand in and fight for our faith is a part of worship; it is a way of life that is to govern our Christian walk every day.

Your Strength

Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

“Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.”  Zechariah 4:6 tells us, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of Hosts.” With the many resources afforded to many in our modern-day culture, it is easy to get caught up in the attitude of self-sufficiency.  The Bible tells us, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” (2 Corinthians 3:5).

Right away, in dealing with this portion of Scripture, Paul wanted the church at Ephesus to know that God is not looking for them to do this Christian life or to be involved in any spiritual battle in their own strength.  They are to be dependent upon Him and the “power of his might.” 

I think this is where many drop the ball.  Our human inclinations are to try to figure stuff out on our own.  Come up with a plan for dealing with what is in front of us, execute that plan, and wait for the positive results we hope to see from that plan.

But life does not generally work that way.  We tend to run into more hiccups in our plans when our total reliance is on ourselves and we treat God as if He is the backup to our plan to pull out of our pocket when we cannot take it a moment more.

No.  From the first onset of anything we face, we recognize that “God, it is You I need in the midst of this adversity.  I may not understand everything I am dealing with or going through but help me to lean on You wholly, and completely depend upon your strength through it all.”

Your Fight

Ephesians 6:11-12 “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

With that, Paul encourages his readers to “put on the whole armour of God.”  We spend so much time speaking of the armor itself (and we will address each of the pieces later in this lesson) that we forget about the word “whole.” 

“Whole” speaks of completeness; not lacking in anything that is needed.  In this Christian life and dealing with the things that come against us due to this spiritual journey we are on, we cannot be half-way Christians for that will leave areas of exposure for the enemy to prod his way into our circumstances.

God has supplied a complete outfit for our defense and the ability to fight for our faith.  No parts were left unprotected.  To be successful in our campaigns we are to be garbed in all the Christian armament that He supplies.

It is only by being fully dressed; fully prepared that we will be able to “to stand against the wiles of the devil.”  God has beautiful and great, good plans for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11).  The devil’s main goal is to interrupt what God is trying to do; to try to stop His people from reaching any positive future here, and for eternity to come that He has in store for us.

1 Peter 5:8 warns us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” The word “vigilant” screams at us to be on guard!

Be on guard because the enemy is crafty; he has many tricks up his sleeve.  Paul warned the Corinthian church, “I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ,” (2 Corinthians 11:3).  And the Lord Jesus Christ reminds us, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…” (John 10:10a); and he does so by working his “wiles” through cunning and crafty schemes.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  One of the most effective tricks the enemy uses against the people of God is to divert their attention from his trickery and cause them to focus on each other; “against flesh and blood.”  This will effectively bring contentions and disunity where there is supposed to be peace and a spirit of brotherhood.

The only way to stop a thief is to proactively protect what is rightfully yours.  Wrong thinking will make some believe that things would be better in life were it not for certain things, people, and circumstances interfering with them. A lot of the time that part is not going to change but how one responds to each situation makes all the difference in the world.  Be on guard to recognize which is which.

These can be looked at as distractive influences.  How diligent then are we to stand against the evil working behind the scenes and not the people who are positioned in front?  Paul adamantly lets us know that our fight is not with each other.

Yes, they may hurt you, hate you, talk about you, criticize you and yes, even despitefully use you.  While those things may hurt us and bother us, sometimes even daily, there is a more important struggle pressing before us; those forces of evil which threaten our very being and our faith.  They are the behind-the-scenes predators like the “principalities… powers… the rulers of the darkness of this world… spiritual wickedness in high places.”  These have planned attacks and have meticulously plotted to rip away our very portion of the greater prize and reward in God.

Your Weapons

Ephesians 6:13-17 “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:”

Knowing where our true source of contentions lie, Paul once again admonishes the church to “take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  When properly dressed; when properly prepared and protected, God’s people will be able to “to stand” even in the “evil day.”

We are in the midst of very real spiritual warfare.  It is nothing to be taken lightly.  Where are our weapons?  What do we have to fight with?  In the following verses, Paul begins to list and layout all the pieces of the armor of God that we will ever need.

In order to be proficient in this fight against sin and this whole army of enemies, we must “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.”

What weapon that is formed against us can penetrate the defenses of “truth” and “righteousness?”  Can any snare that an enemy has set for you be effective when Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,” (John 8:32)?  Deception is one of the most powerful weapons the enemy employs against people.  It has worked from the time of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) causing people to lose out on the paradise that God offers.

Therefore, the first line of protection is “truth.”  “Truth” encompasses so much of our Christian walk.  It tells us who we are in Christ, it guides us on the right path to walk if we will but follow it, and it guards against the lies of the enemy.  This belt of “truth” supports our lives and supports all the other pieces of armament we are afforded.  Perhaps this is why Proverbs encourages us, “Buy the truth, and sell it not…” (23:23).  “Truth” will hold you up if you hold on to it!  Do not let it go and do not try to fight without it!

Then, Paul tells us to have a “breastplate of righteousness.”  The breastplate guards the heart in battle while “righteousness” should govern the heart for life.  “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law…” (Isaiah 51:7).  Righteousness is a heart thing.

This right way of living is an inner commitment to have God and His ways as a priority in all that we do.  Only a heart that is truly devoted to God; a heart that encourages one to be shielded in His holiness will lead you down the path to receive God’s blessings.  Anything not in His holy will, will lead to destruction.  Paul writes in Timothy, teaching his readers, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness…” (1 Timothy 6:11).

“And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”  As odd as it may sound, make sure your feet are covered and prepared as well.  People tend to think of the feet as really being insignificant in battle (besides the basic fact of needing them for walking and running).  All other care for them seems to be obsolete.

Not true.  If an enemy attacks, and takes your feet out from under you, then he takes away your established standing, causing you to lose your footing in the battle.  The Roman soldiers had something like spikes on the bottoms of their sandals to keep their footing sure and secure.  As part of our armament, we are to adorn ourselves with the readiness of the “gospel of peace” that will keep us founded in His truth and confidence as we march forward. 

“The gospel of peace” is the Good News.  When you are suited with the gospel of peace, covering your standing is the defense of everything that Jesus Christ has come to live, die, and now reign for.  Keeping your feet grounded in this truth will help the Christian to avoid all those slippery, hidden devices that the enemy throws at you to try to keep you from progressing toward your long-awaited victory.

With that readiness of protection is also the readiness to carry the message forth, even during times of battle.  Isaiah 52:7 says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”

No matter how you see it, keeping your feet covered with the gospel of peace can be for protection and mission purposes.  For protection, it serves to keep us in our foundation of faith when the fighting starts.  For mission, it gives us purpose, that even during the fight, we carry forth the message of all that Jesus has done and will do for the heart that believes.  The gospel is part of your equipment, but it also serves as your marching orders as well. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” (Mark 16:15).

“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”  “Above all;” most importantly – the most vital thing over top of everything else, Paul says, “I want you to grab hold of your shield of faith.”  Mount it up on your arm and make sure the fit is proper (we do not want it slipping when you need it the most) so that you will be capable of going out into action.  You will be capable of blocking attacks from the enemy.

Everything that the enemy can even imagine attacking you with can be blocked by the “shield of faith.”  Why?  When you are under the protection of faith you are not relying on the strength or wisdom from any man.  You are dependent upon the power of God (see 1 Corinthians 2:5).  With that being said, who can possibly come against the power of God and succeed?

With our shield mounted, we can step boldly on the battlefield, knowing with God on our side, and we will be alright.  This reminds us of the promise He gave to the children of Israel when He said, “There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the LORD your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon…” (Deuteronomy 11:25).  If God did it once for them, He has proven over and over again in His Word that He will do it again. He will come to the defense of His people, fight for them, and win even now!

We are under the shield of faith.  We are believing and hoping in the power of God during this fight.  What dart can penetrate this shield?  With assurance resting on our side, we continue forth in battle, moving forward and not backward.  We can “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12).  We have a destination of eternal life to march towards.  “Press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 3:14).

You can say, “With the shield of faith I have the power, through Christ, to quench and put out every one of those attacks by adversaries and deflect their advancement.”  Just as Jesus told the Centurion, “Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee,” (Matthew 8:13).  The same still applies today.  Believe it, have faith, and it shall be “done unto thee.”

“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  Along with all the other equipment, Paul said I want you to make sure you have something to cover your head: “the helmet of salvation.” 

This is the only helmet whose materials are not fashioned by the hands of man.  This helmet was made by the redeeming blood of the Lord Jesus Christ; the one who came to die for our sins.  For without this helmet, we will lose our spiritual battle.  “For there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,” (Acts 4:12).

It is only through the redemption that Jesus Christ has secured for us and through His name that sins can be removed.  Make sure you are covered.  Make sure you are under the saving grace of Jesus Christ before you even attempt to step out onto the battlefield.

Let the salvation that Christ secured for you guard your mind for this is where the real battle is fought.  If you are saved, then you belong to God, and that is a truth check that you can take to the spiritual bank and cash!  Here are some verses to help you know that you are now His (emphasis mine):

  • “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” (Romans 5:1-2).
  • “But we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement,” (Romans 5:11).
  • There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” (Romans 8:1).
  • “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,” (Galatians 2:20).
  • “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace,” (Ephesians 1:7; also see Colossians 1:14).

And I could really go on and on and on and on.  What a wonderful position we are now in when we are in Christ!

“And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  All the armor discussed so far was given for our protection.  They will be there to help you walk through your troubled times.  But now that you are well protected, there is one final weapon given that will allow you to effectively fight back: “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  This is the same weapon Jesus used when countering the attack of the enemy (see Matthew 4:4, 7, 10).

The Bible tells us, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart,” (Hebrews 4:12).

God’s Word is here to be put into action for you from the minute you open it up.  Wrapped in such a small package of sixty-six books it stands as the only weapon that will effectively penetrate all the forces of darkness.

Everything you need to help keep you strong in the battle is found in the Word of God.  Take up the Word of God in your heart and use it to fight.  God’s Word is a daily message to our hearts that we do not grow faint during the battle.  His Word is our assurance for the future.  In His Word, we can find all the promises laid up for those who continue to fight on the side of what is right before Him.

It does not matter what anybody else says, WHAT DOES THE WORD OF GOD SAY?

  • Depressed/broken heart? – “He healeth the broken heart, and bindeth up their wounds,” (Psalm 174:3).
  • Bound in troubles? – “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him,” (Nahum 1:7).
  • Heavy laden with financial burdens? – “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it,” (Proverbs 10:22).
  • Lonely and seeking comfort when it seems none can be found? – Jesus said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you,” (John 14:18).

That is just a small portion of how the Word of God can fight for you.  If you will just walk in His Word, and carry it in your heart, and let it encourage you toward a life of righteousness (Psalm 119:11), it will fight for you.  Can you take Him at His Word?

Your Prayers

Ephesians 6:18-20 “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel. For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”  I have covered the subject of prayer extensively in previous lessons and posts.  Prayer is something that is very near and dear to my heart.  It is something I wholeheartedly believe in and cannot live without.  No matter which way you look at it, we are to be a people of prayer.  It is written repeatedly in the Bible and it is consistently taught throughout.  We cannot be strong warriors without a strong prayer life.  We are called to pray “always… in the Spirit.”

We are instructed that our prayers are not just for us; rather, “for all saints.”  Brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to continually lift one another up in prayer!  If we don’t, who will?  We are all trying to reach the same eternal destination and we all need the power of one another praying us through.  (I encourage you to read my article titled  “Please, Pray Me Through to My Deliverance!” found on WordforLifeSays.com.)

Prayer is powerful!  Prayer is authoritative!  And prayer works!

Therefore Paul, chained in prison, admitted his need for prayer also.  While you are praying for the saints he said, “And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.” 

As an “ambassador” who was not free; rather, he abode in “bonds,” he needed to still be able to speak freely and “boldly” for He whom he represents.  There are many causes for when one is in “bonds” to keep the mouth shut, yet Paul wanted his voice and His message to still be heard.

This was a request for those in Acts who also wanted to remain faithful to the message that needed to be preached.  They prayed, “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,” (Acts 4:29).

If anything, during the battle the message of God’s saving grace still must go forth unhindered.  Sometimes, the ground on which we walk will not be favorable; rather, contentious.  Lord, grant us boldness to keep the truth of your message going.

It’s time to put on the whole armor of God!

PDF Full Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes):  Sunday School Lesson – The Whole Armor of God

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – The Whole Armor of God

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – The Whole Armor of God

Blanks Journal Page: These pages, one designed for adults and one for children, can be used to bring out, remember, or write a particular part of the lesson you wish for you and/or your class to focus on.  Click>>Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages to access the journal pages.

Review Sheet: The Whole Armor of God Review Sheet

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Crossword: The Whole Armor of God Crossword  Answers: The Whole Armor of God Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: The Whole Armor of God Word Scramble  Answers: The Whole Armor of God Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: The Whole Armor of God Draw the Scene

How Many Words: The Whole Armor of God How Many Words

Memory Verse: The Whole Armor of God Memory Verse

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Sunday School Lesson – “Jesus Blesses the Children” Mark 10:13-16

VERSE DISCOVERY: Mark 10:13-16 (KJV, Public Domain)

There is a familiar scene that plays out in many families between dad, mom, and the little ones.  It is the one where the father, playing with his children, tosses them into the air and catches them on a band of giggles coming from the child while the mother stands on the sidelines holding her breath.

The father with a sure grip and a steady hand has no qualms playing this innocent game.  The child, often young, just thinks it is absolutely hilarious to go for this free ride.  The child never worries about being caught.  The child never worries about being hurt.  The child only sees daddy.  Daddy loves me, daddy cares for me, I trust daddy and daddy will never let me fall.  Therefore, I will enjoy playing with daddy.

From the time that children are born, they have an innate capacity to trust.  They are literally at the whim of their caretakers and can do nothing for themselves.  Their dependency is constantly on others to feed, care for, and love them in their most vulnerable state.  In their innocence, they do not judge by anything outwardly but, only by the love they receive inwardly.

Children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3).  Children are our future.  These little ones will be the next carriers of God’s Word.  They will be the conduits through which generations after them will find their way to the Lord and His salvation.  At the same time, children can teach us so many things and one of the things they teach us is how to have faith.

Faith gets over-complicated in the adult way of thinking while children just simply receive, remain dependent, trust, and believe.  And that is all God asks from all His children, no matter what their age is.

 Parents Desire

Mark 10:13 “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.”

Teachings on the kingdom of God and examples of what true faith looks like were never far from Jesus’ vocabulary.  He took many times and opportunities to open the understanding of all who would listen and heed what God looks for in a true follower of His.

In this lesson, He gives us an undeniable example of both as parents in the crowd “brought young children to him.”  The desires of the parents in question are to have Jesus “touch” their children thereby blessing them. This was not an uncommon practice in this ancient culture.

The truth is parents always want what is best for their children.  If they find a good thing, naturally they would want their children exposed to it as much as possible.  Many modern-day parents spend an enormous amount of money each year to give their children the best clothes, education, housing… the best start in life, if and as they are each able to do.

The parents in today’s lesson saw Jesus teaching and healing and showing compassion to many people, many times over.  He was (and still is) the best thing they could give to their children.  Why would they not want their child exposed to Him?  Why would they not seek a “touch” from Jesus for their little ones if they could?

A child’s faith often starts with their parents (or guardian), and in the home.  It’s where God gave the command of responsibility to Moses for the parents to “teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house…” (Deuteronomy 6:7; see also Deut. 11:19).  There are many variables that go into raising a child.  Parents really must take into consideration and calculate what their children are exposed to on a daily basis and whether or not it is beneficial to their physical and spiritual wellbeing.  The guidelines given to Moses to pass down through the generations was to ensure that the most impressionable of society receive the proper exposure to the things of God; to what would benefit their children the most.  This would also ensure the longevity of the faith amongst the community as a whole.

Those in today’s lesson wanted to expose their children to Jesus.  They wanted Him to touch their little ones with a blessing.  They brought their children near to where Jesus was, giving them the opportunity to hear of His teaching and wisdom on life and the kingdom of God.  The Bible encourages us to, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” (Proverbs 22:6).  This stands as a strong lesson that if we want our children to be exposed to Jesus, then we, as parents, must take that responsibility and not depend on others to do it for us.  When it comes to our children’s faith there can be no complacent parenting.

“And his disciples rebuked those that brought them.”  The disciples didn’t have the same vision for the children as the parents did.  The Bible does not exactly state why their rebuke was so strong (although many speculate).  But they did prohibit the parents from bringing the children nearer to where Jesus was and made no attempts to hide their displeasure at the intrusion.

Did they think the children were unworthy of the Master’s time and consideration?  Maybe they believed Jesus was just too busy and important to deal with the likes of these.  Who knows?  Perhaps it would have been prudent for them to ask Jesus first instead of thinking to act on His behalf.  The fact of the matter is they stood in between Jesus and the children.  Something Jesus highly disapproved of.

Everyone MATTERs TO JESUS

Mark 10:14 “But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Jesus intervened.  Jesus has never turned away a desiring soul.  He has never told a mom or dad no who sought physical or spiritual healing for their child.  And He was not going to turn down or turn away those who desired a special spiritual blessing or touch for their children now.

One of the most precious things I love about our Lord is His ability to see value in everybody.  Those whom society thinks are the lesser, non-important, are magnificent in the eyes of our God.  The Bible teaches us, “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows,” (Luke 12:7).

To Him, it does not matter where you live, what your social status in life is, or anything else like that.  It does not matter if you are aged with wisdom or new and in the innocence of your years.  He that knows the days then, the days now, and the days to come and sees beyond all of that, straight down to the very soul He loves.  With that, He invites or allows (“suffer” as this lesson puts it) them to come unto Him.

Previously I wrote in another lesson, “The feet of faith walk forward believing God is, “and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” (Hebrews 11:6).  Faith in its highest form removes all worldly shackles and just rests in the truth that if it is His will, there is nothing that can hinder God from performing a miracle in one’s life.  Ethnicity, background, and prestige all fall away in the eyes of our Savior whose only view is that of an opened heart filled with belief,” (Word for Life Says/The Centurion’s Great Faith).  All are welcomed before Him: man, woman, and child.  Many are quick to write off young people, but our youths’ matter to Jesus, too!  Everyone matters to Him!

“Forbid them not,” Jesus commanded.  Do not prevent people, no matter who they are, from drawing nearer to Christ.  The constraints that society then and now may put on some people are not recognized by God.

Youths especially come packed with potential.  For example, Samuel was dedicated to God as an incredibly young child (1 Sam. 1:21-28) and became a righteous judge of God’s people.  Josiah, became king at the tender age of 8 (2 Chr. 34:1), and “in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images,” (2 Chr. 34:3) and eventually went on to make great reformations for God’s people in turning them back to true worship (2 Chr. 34-35) which all started while he was still young.  Timothy learned from his grandmother and mother about true faith and helped the apostle Paul during his missionary journeys and in the establishing of new churches (2 Tim. 1:5).  And, let us not forget our Lord Jesus Christ who was found at the age of 12 in the temple with the “doctors”, amazing all who saw Him and heard “his understanding and answers,” (Luke 2:41-52).   It is far better that potential is tapped in young people for the glory of God than for the things of this world.

I am sure the disciples thought they were doing their best in providing protection and care for their Master.  Yet, Jesus has always had an open-door policy when it comes to people.  People matter to our Savior, even the littlest people – the kiddos.  Jesus always had a heart that burned for drawing people near and exposing to them the kingdom of God.  He loves people.  He loves children.  And He loves you, too!

“For of such is the kingdom of God.”  God’s kingdom is made of those who trust Him with total abandon and are dependent without inhibitions; that have faith and just believe as through the eyes of an innocent child.  Too many adults are hindered in their faith due to life experiences.  But children just accept and believe and love and trust.  They are prime examples of how His sheep come to the Shepherd and humbly follow His lead.

Faith as a Child

Mark 10:15 “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

Continuing His line of teaching on the kingdom of God, Jesus reiterates the one who wishes to enter in must “receive” it “as a little child.”  Those who choose not, forfeit their right to “enter therein.”

Why? Because the same characteristics that made that celebrated faith like a child acceptable in heaven are not found in those who refuse to receive it.  In fact, the exact opposite is usually what is present.  Instead of trusting, one may see self-sufficiency, and instead of a heart surrendered in faith, one may see it being lifted in pride.  Of course, one does not have to go far in realizing these are things God opposes.  They are not found in His children, the accessors of that heavenly kingdom, therefore to them who refuse to receive it as a child, access is denied.

The promise of heaven awaits any and all who will humble themselves as these children do and put on those same traits.  Walking in a lifestyle that opposes the fruit of the Spirit which is often found in these little ones is to oppose the working of the Spirit in that life.  Flesh wins and carnality overtakes that individual prohibiting them an opened door into the heavenly realm.

Do not be like the children of Israel.  God led them through the wilderness, and they fell short of the promise that lay ahead of them.  Losing out on the spiritual blessings of entering heaven would be far worse with more significant eternal consequences than that of an earthly Promised Land.  Therefore, it is prudent that one takes on this faith, which He describes as being like a child in their trust and willingness to receive, that they may enter in.

Blessed by Jesus

Mark 10:16 “And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”

After His lesson on the benefits of having the same faith as these little ones that were brought before Him, Jesus granted the parent’s request and “blessed them.” 

Look at Jesus’ actions closely. He did not just speak a word over them as He could have.  He did not send one of the disciples to relay the blessings.  No.  He got personally involved with each child there in showing them the compassion of the Savior.  He lifted “them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”  I get the impression that He possibly took the time to lay hands on each child individually as any good father or spiritual leader would and speak a word of encouragement over each one of them (just my thoughts).

Remember our introduction: “The child never worries about being caught.  The child never worries about being hurt.  The child only sees daddy.  Daddy loves me, daddy cares for me, I trust daddy and daddy will never let me fall.  Therefore, I will enjoy playing with daddy.”  Jesus is calling for all of us to turn to Him with that same kind of innocent and trusting faith found in children.  Your heavenly Daddy loves you!  Turn to Him.

PDF Full Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Jesus Blesses the Children

Suggested Activities:

Lesson Opener:  If you tried to put a picture to the word faith, what would that picture look like? What would it show? (As you present the questions in the following paragraph to open the lesson, have pictures ready that depict the scenes being spoken of.)

Would we see one authoritatively speaking with power to the multitudes (show picture)?  Would we see miracles and signs being performed (show picture)?  Or would you see the face of an innocent child (show picture)?

When Jesus taught about what those who enter the kingdom of God and what they would be compared to, in this lesson, He likened them to the picture of an innocent child.

While all the others are very real signs of things being done by those who profess and walk in the faith – what it all boils down to is if one wants to enter His heavenly kingdom, they must, in faith, receive it as a child.

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Jesus Blesses the Children

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Jesus Blesses the Children

Blank Journal Pages: These pages, one designed for adults and one for children, can be used to bring out, remember, or write a particular part of the lesson you wish for you and/or your class to focus on.  Click>>Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages to access the journal pages.

Paper Bag Puppet Craft:  Younger students can also put together a paper bag puppet depicting themselves and, on the back, attach the phrase from the printable available on site which states, “Jesus Thinks I’m Special, Too!”  Click here for the printable PDF.

 

Draw the Scene: Jesus Blesses the Children Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: Jesus Blesses the Children Memory Verse

Word Search: Jesus Blesses the Children Word Search  Answers: Jesus Blesses the Children Word Search Answers

Crossword: Jesus Blesses the Children Crossword  Answers: Jesus Blesses the Children Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Jesus Blesses the Children Word Scramble  Answers: Jesus Blesses the Children Word Scramble Answers

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Sunday School Lesson – “Faith Without Works is Dead” James 2:14-26

VERSE DISCOVERY: James 2:14-26 (KJV, Public Domain)

Remember the days of “Show and Tell” at school?  It was an opportunity for one to not just talk about what they do or have, but to display visible evidence before their classmates of a possession or skill.

Jesus was a “Show and Tell” Savior.  He drew many crowds to Himself through the many miracles that He performed: feeding 5,000, healing the sick, raising the dead, and so on.  People would often marvel at what He could do.  He did more than just talk the talk or preach and lecture, He demonstrated the power of the Kingdom of God through Himself.

While you and I may not be multiplying a boy’s lunch to feed 5,000, we can through our actions and service toward one another, volunteer to feed some.  We may not be raising the dead or healing the sick (although, miracles really do still happen), we can volunteer to comfort and help those around us in need.  What this does is it shows that we are more than just talk; rather our faith is manifested in what we do.

James knew that people needed to see the church displaying tangible evidence of what they say they believe, especially when it comes down to how we treat one another.  Jesus, along with many others in the Bible, let their works speak for them.  And, how they worked showed what the real measure of their concern and faith was on the inside.

No Actions. No Proof.

 James 2:14 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

This section of verses picks up right where James left off his teaching against having respect of persons and dealing with how we treat people.

In my opinion, right at the beginning of this lesson, James seems to be questioning the validity of someone’s faith without works, without evidence.  He said, “What doth it profit?”  What does it profit you?  What does it profit for others around you?

For a man or woman to say they have faith or are in the faith without evidence to back it up is like saying one is a doctor without a degree to prove it.  When I go into a doctor’s office, I am one of those people who will read the accreditations on the wall.  This is proof that they can take care of me.  What I see before me is speaking up on behalf of the individual to whom I am submitting myself for care.  Those papers hanging on the walls are little, personal testimonies.

Faith that is worked out operates in the same manner.  Faith is not silent.  Faith is full of action.  Faith is alive.  Faith is shared through works to testify of its genuineness and sincerity.  Faith does more than move mountains.  If it is lived out in the lives of the men and women of God, it can help move hearts toward salvation!

When one is living a life of faith people should be able to look at their life, their actions, as signs of accreditation that we belong to God.  They should be able to tell by how we operate and carry ourselves through our display of service, that we live what we talk.

Where is the profit if there is no proof?  What can you and I show to a hurting world that we have their best interest in mind; that we genuinely care about them as a person?

James 2:15-16 “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?”

Is this one’s faith real or not?  Words without supplying to the physical, emotional, or spiritual comfort and support of another in distress are what these two verses speak of.  But, all too often, how many times have we heard or spoken of what should be done to help others without putting in some work to help society move toward that goal?

All that talking becomes useless speech.  Unless we move past the act of just talking and show that we care through the act of doing; unless we put some backbone and muscle behind our mouths, the world will never see the true love of Jesus Christ in action.

That is what it’s all about, isn’t it?  It is going beyond pulpits and church walls to work at meeting the needs of the communities that we are in, to put the love of Christ on display through our actions and not just our words.  Obviously, some people, churches, and communities can do more than others.  That is not what James is after here.  He just wants us to get up, move past complacency, and just do something.

James saw no positive effect for others in just words alone.  Speaking “peace” without lifting a finger to physically help satisfy the present need, to him it was not true faith.  True faith believes and then allows that belief to be put to work.  True faith has heavenly aspirations that work out to show good on earth.  So, he asked, “What doth it profit” without it?  What is each of us doing now that is benefiting his fellow man and the kingdom of heaven?

James 2:17-18 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”

What you profess and what you do together should match up to display a well-rounded Christian.  People cannot claim they are heaven bound and yet show no heavenly fruit in their lives.  Such claims to faith are “dead,” meaning there is nothing in it to prove it is alive and real.

Don’t you know, you can start today to make a difference?  You can start where you are and with what you have.  You do not need a personal invitation to love and serve others.  What are you waiting for?  Show the world that God is alive in you!  Put some action behind those words you speak!

One may say, “Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”  Our faith, which comes through hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17) should compel us to actively participate in the things that are written of or spoken through that Word; it should get us involved in the things that God is concerned about.  The faith that shows that the Word is working in us is the faith that can do more.  Therefore, faith and works do not go against each other, rather, they support one another in proving that Christ is alive and active on the inside of the believer (compare with James 2:22 notes below).

When that happens, this, in turn, shines a light to the world reflecting Him.  Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (emphasis mine).  This light shines by what it is doing; by “good works.”  This kind of faith can make a bigger impact in this world and draw more people to God.

James 2:19-20 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

One’s claim to faith goes beyond just believing in the very real fact that there is a one and only true living God.  It is living out that belief in one’s daily life.  It’s working His works.  James opened our perspective this way by saying that’s good; that’s a start, that’s right, “thou doest well” to believe.  Everything in our faith walk begins with believing.  But, where does it go from there?    

He goes on to say, “The devils also believe, and tremble,” but they’re still “devils.”  They know there is a God.  They believe He exists, but they are not bowing their selves to working His works.  They are not obeying Him.  They are not working His will.  They are not in a relationship with God; rather, they work against everything God is, loves, and stands for.

But, what of those who claim they are in a relationship with God through faith?  Where is the fruit of their faith?

Faith without fruit is not an operational faith.  It is stale.  It’s stagnated.  It does no good.  Real faith must act out what it is experiencing on the inside.  Real, genuine faith will not just be content in a life of mediocrity – never accomplishing or making a difference for His kingdom.  Real faith wants to see better in and for people’s lives.  Real faith shows itself and overflows to those around him or her.

Therefore, if faith is meant to be alive and active and shown to the world through works, then “faith without works is dead.”  The one who claims they believe without any evidence to support that proclamation is “vain,” useless, hollow, in other words, no good.

Rather, when we come to that great and glorious day, Jesus wants to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord,” (Matthew 25:23, emphasis mine).  Those who have put their faith into action and have “done” something with what He has given them can make a difference.  God can use people like this in the world.  But He cannot do that unless you work what He has given you.

If it is not working – it’s “dead.”  It’s lifeless with no functioning activities.  It is useless!

Much Action. Much Proof.

James 2:21-24 “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

Genesis 15:6 declares of Abram, “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”  This was after God told him to count the stars and see if he could number them.  God then told him, “So shall thy seed be,” (Genesis 15:5).

At another point, Abraham was forced to send Hagar and Ishmael away, but God gave him this promise: “for in Isaac shall thy seed be called,” (Genesis 21:12).

Then there came the day when Abraham’s faith was tested to see if he still believed in the God of those promises that were spoken unto him; to see if the faith and righteousness that was attributed to him was true on the inside and not just an outward, surface claim to faith.  By taking action to obey God in going forth with the procedure to offer “Isaac his son upon the altar,” he manifested through his works the very realness of his faith.  His faith, in turn, became a testimony before the whole world.  Abraham’s story does not just talk about faith, it shows how his faith was worked out (compare Hebrews 11:17-19).

His actions demonstrated his heart.  “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect.”  Pay attention to that word “with” (compare this to the notes above in James 2:18) which speaks to the accompanying factor of each coming alongside one another as agents together to show what he was really made of; to show his true belief in God alone, regardless of the way things outwardly appeared.  Jointly, they showed his true faith nature, and jointly, “by works was faith made perfect,” or complete.

“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.”  Referencing the above verse quote I noted earlier from Genesis 15:6, James saw a fulfilling of that verse through the actions of Abraham, through his obedience.  Abraham’s faith was real, and it was shown by what he did (compare Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6).

“And he was called a friend of God.”  Abraham’s experiences with God drew his heart closer to God in obedience and in turn, he was considered a friend of God (compare 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8), in such a way that God was even able to reveal to Abraham what His plans were for the destruction of Sodom (see Genesis 18:17-18).

Jesus once taught, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.  Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you,” (John 15:14-15).  As His Father revealed to Abraham, His friend, of His plans, so too does Jesus reveal the will of God to those disciples, to those who obey Him, for they are His friends, too.

James put the two together as in a great summation: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”  James was calling his readers to put their faith on display.  To show they had a lively faith.  To show the world that you are not just all talk, but the love of Christ is in you and manifesting through you to touch a world in need.  Put Him on display that when eyes see you, they might see Him.

The Apostle Paul put it like this, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ,” (1 Corinthians 11:1).  In the chapter before, he left off saying he was not seeking his own profit.  But in all that he did, he was seeking the “profit of many, that they might be saved,” (1 Corinthians 10:33).

While works cannot save us they show that we are saved, they are telling proof that we are “justified” and moving in the same direction as our Christ.  And, what we do, can, in fact, profit others (compare to Paul’s statement above from 1 Corinthians 10:33 regarding what he was doing was for the “profit of many” and James asking in the above verses (James 2:14-16), about what does it profit when the works are missing from the faith).

James 2:25 “Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?”

Here is another example of WHAT YOU DO MATTERS!  I cannot overemphasize those words enough.  Rahab could have lost her life if she had been found helping the enemy of her people.  But she heard about all God had done in delivering His people against their enemies (Joshua 2:10) and it made the people of Jericho’s hearts melt (Joshua 2:11).  But Rahab believed for more. She said, “I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us,” (Joshua 2:9). Not only did she express belief in all that God has done and was still doing, but she also went as far as to take these men in her home and personally sought for their care and safety.  That was a bold step for her.  Her faith was put into action.  To make a long story short, for those in her house, their lives were spared in the fall of Jericho because of her active, working faith which landed her in the hall of fame of faith (Hebrews 11:31).

James 2:26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

The body is a physical shell, so to speak, that houses the spirit.  At the time of death, the spirit departs and goes back to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7) leaving behind the lifeless shell that remains.  When we attend funerals and view our dearly departed all we see is what is left, the outer man, the shell.  “So faith without works is dead also.”  Faith, without the outward workings of tangible evidence, is just as dead as a body without a spirit.  Life is not represented there.

Our actions testify to the faith that we say we have in us.  What we do or how we live out our faith matters.  Jesus taught, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” (Matthew 25:40; read Matthew 25:31-46 for further explanation).

Let us remember, we are not saved by works: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Rather, works give proof to the faith living on the inside of you: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone,” (James 2:17).

No action.  No proof.  Much action.  Much proof.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Faith Without Works is Dead

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Faith Without Works is Dead

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Faith Without Works is Dead

Blank Journal Pages: These pages, one designed for adults and one for children, can be used to bring out, remember, or write a particular part of the lesson you wish for you and/or your class to focus on.  Click>>Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages to access the journal pages.

Draw the Scene: Faith Without Works is Dead Draw the Scene

In getting across the idea of “Faith Without Works is Dead” I used crafts incorporating the hands (as seen in previous lessons) since that’s what we use the most to show other’s love to and help them (see below). Enjoy!

LACE IT UP HANDPRINT:

One craft idea is to simply have students trace their handprint on cardstock or use this Handprint Craft Cutout printed on cardstock for this project because it’s sturdier, and then cut it out.   Using a hole punch, go around the outer edges of the picture of the hand (these will be for lacing).  Students can then decorate and lace with ribbon, colorful shoelaces, or yarn (note: if you use ribbon like I did, you may want to wrap the ends in tape to make a little aglet like on a shoelace to make it easier to navigate through the holes).  You or your students can even write a memory verse reference directly on your project. (Example pictured below)

 

HANDPRINT NECKLACE:

Continuing with our hand theme, students can make a Handprint Necklace (example pictured below – I used construction paper with tracing).  Students can trace their handprint onto construction paper or cardstock or use this Handprint Craft Cutout and cut out.  Punch one hole in the top.  Using ribbon or yarn and cut up straws, beads, or whatever you have laying around (even loop cereal).  Let them have fun and decorate it as they see fit. You or your students can even write a memory verse reference directly on your project.

Charades: To bring home the idea of “doing”, have students play a game of Charades.  But, for this game of charades, have ideas in the bucket that people can do to help others, make them feel loved, and show your faith (ex. Sweep the floor for someone, pick flowers to show love, wash the dishes to be helpful, visit the sick, welcome everyone, etc.)  Emphasize there are a lot of ways we can show our faith through our “doings”.  You can even have students come up with ideas to throw in the bucket and see if others can figure out what they wrote.

Card Match: Play any card matching game (or make your own using ideas from the lesson) to highlight the idea of how our actions should “match” the faith we say we have.  If you do not want to do a “Show and Tell” as a lesson opener (as listed in the PDF lesson packet), this activity would work well in its place as an object lesson.

Word Search: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Search  Answers: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Search Answers

Crossword: Faith Without Works is Dead Crossword  Answers: Faith Without Works is Dead Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Scramble  Answers: Faith Without Works is Dead Word Scramble Answers

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