Sunday School Lesson – “Jesus Sends His Followers” Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 1:8

VERSE DISCOVERY: Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 1:8 (KJV, Public Domain)

When Jesus called some of His disciples, He told them they would be “fishers of men,” (Matthew 4:19; see also Mark 1:17 and Luke 5:10).  In this lesson, He is instructing them to launch out into the deep of not the waters, but of the world, and catch people for the Kingdom of God.

Romans 10:13-15 tells us, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be savedHow then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (emphasis mine).

Salvation is the goal.  In order for that to happen, an unbeliever must be converted into a believer.  For that to happen, the unbeliever must hear a word that pushes their heart toward repentance and the offer of a new life in Christ.  But, if there is never a “preacher”; if there is never one “sent”; if there are never “beautiful… feet” preaching the “gospel of peace” and “glad tidings of good things”, then how can the original goal of salvation, of a sinner experiencing a new birth, become a reality?  How can that one become a saint?

Like dominos in a row, ready to fall into place and urge the other on to form the big picture, so too does Jesus command all His followers to take their places, to go out into the world, to fulfill the Great Commission.

All the commands in today’s text are red-lettered words in the Bible.  What that means is they are all words that came out of the mouth of Christ.  These were His marching orders when He sent His original disciples out to witness the world for the Kingdom of God, and they are still His marching orders for all His followers today.

 The Matthew 28:16-20 Command

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.  And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Other red-lettered words that are companion verses found in Luke show that in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts that the mission for Jesus’ followers is the same: go, be a witness, and evangelize the world.  Luke records these words of Christ: “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” (Luke 24:46-48; emphasis mine).

Christ suffered.  Christ died.  And here, as well as the verses in Matthew (our covered text), and beyond, we see that Christ rose.  Everything that the enemy tried to throw at Him, He overcame and was victorious.  As the prelude to today’s lesson shows, death could not hold Him down.

When “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” (Matthew 28:1) went to visit the tomb of Jesus, they found He wasn’t even there!  Being greeted by an “angel” they were told, “He is not here: for he is risen,” (Matthew 28:5-6).  Standing, in what must’ve been awe and wonder over everything they were witnessing, they were instructed by the same angel to “go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the death; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you,” (Matthew 28:7).

With many things occurring between that point and the point of where our lesson picks up, as we arrive at our text, the remaining “eleven disciples” are gathered in “Galilee,” into a mountain where “Jesus had appointed them.”

Their calling to that particular “mountain” had been by divine appointment.  The mission they were soon to be sent on was also a divine appointment.  When one is commissioned by Christ, their life is no longer their own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  They follow the marching orders of their Savior and go where and when He says go.  What He ordained and set must be followed through by His disciples.

When they gathered themselves where He “appointed them,” it was then “they saw him.”  And, when they saw Him, “they worshipped him.”  They bowed prostrate before their risen Lord.  They bowed in awe and wonder of His majesty who spoke of His life, saying, “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 10:18).

It is supposed by many that the group gathered there that day consisted not only of the eleven disciples/apostles but many others as well.  When the Apostle Paul stated and testified that many had seen the risen Lord, including “five hundred brethren at once,” (1 Corinthians 15:6), it is believed that it was on the occasion of this lesson when this account occurred, and why some gathered there may have “doubt.”

Jesus, not only bringing light to their confusion of who He is and on what has occurred, also is bringing light to their hearts regarding His own authority when He speaks these words unto them: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”  Wherever a king reigns, that’s where he has power.  Jesus reigns over all!  As a matter of fact, it was also the Apostle Paul who stated that God is the one who “hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name,” (Philippians 2:9).

And speaking of that power given to Him by God, he goes on to state, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Philippians 2:10-11).

What all that means is the same thing Jesus is asserting here in this text: He has been given, by God, “all power!”

All power means it, or He, cannot be contended with.  Jesus Christ has already gained the victory over everything (see John 16:33).  He has “everlasting dominion” over all (see Daniel 7:13-14).  Peter says that He has “gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him,” (1 Peter 3:22).  There’s no way around it – JESUS HAS BEEN GIVEN ALL POWER!

As the risen Lord is getting ready to commission His disciples into their next level of work for the Kingdom of God, He shows them that the mission is His to give.  The authority to command the work that is to be done is His.

With that, He lays out the grand work for what we have come to know as the Great Commission.  And the first words that Jesus speaks to them regarding this mission is, “Go!”

“Go” is a verb which means it requires action.  There is no such thing as a stagnant saint.  Our faith is not stale or at a standstill and neither should the declaring of our faith be.  We, who have an active relationship with the Lord, should be pursuing actively His purposes and mission.  And, the number one mission overall is the winning of souls for the Kingdom of God.  That is the top priority.  Days are short and eternity is long – we must “go!”

When Jesus says, “Go,” He wants you to get involved in His plan for reaching out to others.  He doesn’t save individuals for them to loiter around the church.  He wants us to stretch beyond the comfort of our own salvation; stretch beyond the comfort of the pews, to help save others.

“And teach all nations.”  Probably the most beloved and the most memorized verse in the Bible is 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.”  God’s mission and reasoning behind the crucifixion of Christ is for the whole “world” to have a chance to be saved.  There are no “nations” that are off limits for receiving the teaching of the gospel and what Jesus has done for them.  There are no restrictions to be placed on whom we deem worthy to be baptized in His name.  The command is not ours to give of who and who cannot be reached, but the command and mission is ours to follow – and He says for us to reach “all nations” with it.

“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”  When a baby is born, one doesn’t give them a bottle, wish them luck, and send them off on their own to figure this new life out.  No!  They are trained about the rights and wrongs of life.  They are raised with guidance, love, care, and instruction on all things necessary, and the Lord says that others whom we reach out to need the same care and attention.  They need to be taught in “all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”

“And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”  They were not in this mission alone. We are not on this mission alone.  Those whom Jesus was instructing, and those of the early church suffered much in order to spread the gospel throughout all regions of the world.  Many were dispersed from their homes, fled for their lives, suffered persecution, and even martyrdom.  Many today, in varied areas of the world, suffer tremendously for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  To spread His cause throughout the world, many feel physical pain, emotional distress, and more.  No, Jesus didn’t say it was going to be a bed of roses.  He didn’t say it would be easy, but His promise is that no matter what obstacles, hurts, and pressures one may face, He is there with you in the middle of it all.  We are not walking this world and fighting this fight on our own.  Our Savior has risen in victory, and although He has ascended to be with His Father, His presence, care, and love for us is still promised us.  “I am with you alway,” Jesus promised, “even unto the end of the world.”  Even until He comes back again, we are never alone.

The Mark 16:15-16 Command

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

Since verse 15 is very similar to what we covered in the previous section regarding the description of the Great Commission, I won’t elaborate on it further, but I did want to include it here that we might see those “command” words are still present and relevant in this section.

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”  Here we see that the original goal of the calling and sending of disciples, that souls would be “saved.”  People are not called and sent for themselves.  Nor is it for popularity and the like.  The followers of Christ are sent that someone else might hear the Good News, believe in the Good News, and be “saved!”

To be saved means to be “delivered.”  While there are a variety of things for people to be delivered from, the main thing they need to be delivered from is sin.  That deliverance will not come to pass because of you or me, but we are messengers that are sent to tell them about He who can save.

Do you remember when you were first born again, or got “saved”?  Do you remember the feeling?  Sometimes there’s a wholeness that is felt.  Sometimes there’s peace.  In some areas one may feel light and on top of the world (not in a self-centered, braggadocious way).  People, when they have accepted Jesus Christ and experience the new birth, tend to feel positively different.  A freedom that can’t be explained as the feeling of those shackles that kept one bound begins to fall away.

How many others are there out there who would like to know what that feels like?  How many would like to experience what you have experienced?  How many would like to be saved?  That can’t happen unless those that are sent, go.

Personal Testimony:  I remember not too long before I was saved, there was a time when I was sitting on the front steps of my house.  There was a church the next block up from our house that caught my attention.  It wasn’t the people, for I had never met them.  It wasn’t the program, for I had never been in their building.  I just remember that I wanted what they had.

People may not always be able to articulate what they are feeling, but there are still many who have not been introduced to Jesus; there are still many who want what you have.

Here in Mark, Jesus shows His desire for people to be “saved.”  And, until the end of the world, that harvest is not done being reaped (Matthew 9:37; Luke 10:2; John 4:35).  There is still room in heaven for more, so to speak.  The time for the work of the Great Commission has not yet come to an end.  He wants, and we should want, more people that believe!

While the work to evangelize the world with the Good News must go on, there will be those who reject the invitation of Christ.  Jesus said, “He that believeth not shall be damned.”  Unfortunately, some will not believe.

Despite the love, despite the cross, despite the resurrection, despite the Good News – sadly, some will still refuse the new life offered through Jesus Christ.   Some will turn away their hearts and their lives from this great spiritual rescue.

Everything He did, everything He experienced and went through from birth to the grave and beyond, was to rescue mankind from being lost forever.  For those who turn away that great salvation, they will remain in that lost state and be “damned” because they don’t believe.

Just as eternity is set and settled for the believer, so too is eternity set and settled for the unbeliever.  Romans 8:1 tells us, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  The believer, in Christ, has been released from condemnation.  For the unbeliever outside of Christ, their condemnation or “damned” state remains.

Knowing this, and teaching this to His disciples that they and we might understand the importance of the mission – He sends His followers out to reach as many people as possible in hopes that they who have yet to believe will hear the Good News, and believe, that they might dwell in life eternal with Him.

That’s the mission.  That’s the goal.  That’s the reason for the sending.  It doesn’t matter if one is receptive to the gospel or if they reject it, the disciples, and we, are commanded to still go and tell it.

Not matter where people are from or what their background is, God wants to see people saved.  But they must make the decision to want to be saved; to want to truly repent and be reconciled back to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Please Note:  During His earthly ministry, when Jesus delivered a message, often He would say, “He that hat ears to hear, let him hear,”  (Matthew 11:15; see also Matthew 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; Luke 8:8 and 14:35).  There must be a personal willingness to open oneself up to take in the message of salvation for themselves.

Nonetheless, we are still commanded to go and tell it.

The Acts 1:8 Command

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

This was the last time Jesus would speak to His disciples face to face before He ascended, and the mission and the message were still the same: “ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”  You shall evangelize about Me to the whole world!

This will be done and able to be accomplished because of the “power” of the “Holy Ghost” each believer will be equipped with.  In earlier times, the Holy Spirit would come upon people temporarily, and for an appointed time and/or task.  When Pentecost would arrive, those gathered would be fully and completely engulfed and equipped in His power through the outpouring of His Holy Spirit (see Acts 2).

The fact is, this mission is His mission and He is the one that empowers each of us to fulfill the call He has summoned us to; He is the one that strengthens us and gives us all the tools we need through the power of His Spirit working in us to witness the world for Him (compare Luke 24:49).

To reach others on the level that He calls means we need to depend on sources outside of our own selves in order to literally get the job done, and the only source we need for a job/commission such as this is the source of the “Holy Ghost.”  We cannot perform this duty or do what He has called us to without the power of His Spirit (compare Zechariah 4:6).  We need to rely on He that works on the inside of us in order that we may be able to do the greater outside work (refer to the Explore section of this lesson packet).

Each Christian believer now has the role and responsibility to, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled,” (Luke 14:23).       The Master is looking for each of us to go, but when we do, we go in the “power” of the “Holy Ghost.”  We go in His power!

Once, the Apostle Paul testified of his own mission, saying, “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ… But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God,” (Acts 20:20-21, 24).    May we all be as tenacious in our faith and devotion to witness the world for Christ.

The call belongs to all believers, and to all His followers, Jesus says, “Go!”

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 – Jesus Sends His Followers

Suggested Activities:

Draw the Scene: Jesus Sends His Followers Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: Jesus Sends His Followers Memory Verse

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.

Matthew 28:19 Earth Craft: Earth Craft Matthew 28 19 This craft serves as a reminder and our responsibility as Christians to take the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world and do our part in fulfilling the Great Commission.  (This page can be used simply as a coloring page or to make an easy craft.  You can print on cardstock paper and attach it to a craft stick for a fun project.  Also, you can print it on cardstock and color.  After coloring simply cut it into many shapes to be reassembled again and again as a quick and easy puzzle craft.)

Word Search: Jesus Sends His Followers Word Search  Answers: Jesus Sends His Followers Word Search Answers

Crossword: Jesus Sends His Followers Crossword  Answers: Jesus Sends His Followers Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Jesus Sends His Followers Word Scramble  Answers: Jesus Sends His Followers Word Scramble Answers

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Saved by Faith” Luke 7:36-50

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 7:36-50 (KJV, Public Domain)

Forgiveness is something none will make it to heaven without.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what one has done in life, from the highest to the lowest, without accepting the life Christ offers through His salvation and forgiveness, we will not make it in.  The Bible records, “If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared,” (Psalm 130:3-4).

Who could stand?  Absolutely no one! (See Romans 3:10). Without His covering and remission of sins, the pathway to heaven will be blocked.  It doesn’t matter if one’s walk of life is a Pharisee or a prostitute (as some suppose the woman in this lesson was).  There is not an individual who is worthy enough to enter the gates of glory without Jesus’ forgiveness.

Question: What would happen if today God sat down and took account of all the wrongs we have done?  What would it be like if we stood before Him unable to pay what we owe?  We were there!  Jesus knew the predicament that humanity was in.  He knew that man could never get himself out of the debt of sin, so through Him we obtain that freedom along with grace, mercy and compassion as a people who don’t deserve it.

The Bible reminds us, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8).  I guarantee if we were to look at ourselves, we could not fathom how many times our accounts would have gone unpaid had it not been for the blood of Christ. But thank God, He acted in love to save to us!  No just us – but everyone who comes to Him in faith regardless of the background of sin.

The verses of study in this lesson will tell of one woman’s enormous expression of love for Jesus at having her sins forgiven and the criticism it brought.

 A Sinner’s Precious Gift

Luke 7:36-38 “And one of the Pharisees desired him that he could eat with him.  And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.  And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.”

It wasn’t unusual then nor is it today for a respected teacher/preacher of God’s word to be invited to dine with officials.  Jesus opened Himself to people from all walks of life (even the Pharisees who were often seen at odds with Him), and without reservation “he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.”

We are not told exactly how long He was there but during the process of the meal came a disturbance at dinnertime.  “A woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment.”  At this point of the lesson it is not immediately known her plans but just the fact that this woman of ill repute, who many suppose her to be a prostitute, dared entered a Pharisee’s house and draw near to a respected Rabbi drew eyes of speculation at her coming.

Some reading her story today may think how bold of her to come near to Jesus in her dejected state.  Rest assured, those at dinner didn’t think her bold.  They probably thought her even more rude and full of sin to think to defile the atmosphere with her presence.  Honestly, what Pharisee would normally let the likes of her come into his very home?  It was unheard of.  Since the crowds often gathered to hear Jesus speak wherever He went, she came in amongst some of the others until who she is caught the attention of the religious elite.

Nonetheless, she was there with all that she had in her facing the shame of her wrongs she saw etched in the faces of the onlookers.  Yet, they were not the audience whose attention she was seeking.  Her heart drew her to the feet of Jesus.  This is where she stood humbly holding her precious gift, an “alabaster box of ointment,” (an expensive gift to say the least which spoke volumes of her sacrifice).  With the feelings of all that she was as opposed to all that He would do for her – it was overwhelming.  This is what happens when sin meets with Savior.  The tears would not be bidden to stop.  The heart and spirit within spoke through the flow from her eyes.

Living in sin for so long she recognized her unworthiness before the Sovereign.  It doesn’t take a genius for us to see that she saw herself and Jesus in a different light than everyone else present.  Did no one else there see their sin for what it was?  Did any present even believe they had sin to repent of?  Or, was it just the nature of her sin drew extra scowls as opposed to the hidden things in other’s hearts?

Regardless, her heart response came through “weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.”  Her actions there may have seemed inappropriate to those eyeballing her, but she received no correction from Jesus.  Sorrowfulness over one’s sins is always a most appropriate response and she expressed that sorrow in the humblest way she knew how.

The feet were particularly dirty, especially in the day where sandals and dirt roads met daily.  From a previous article titled Wash Me Jesus, I wrote (speaking of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet):

“In case you didn’t know, this was a very gross job reserved for the lowest of servants in the house.  The roads were not paved but rather dusty and muddy and littered with all types of animal material left behind (if you catch my meaning).  Open sandals were the norm of fashion which really didn’t do anything to keep the elements of all that had been stepped on out.  Feet stank and were blistered, sore and probably repulsive to us today.  No such thing as a pedicure back then.” (Word For Life Says)

Yet, this is where this sinful woman positioned herself and performed the task that others didn’t want.  She did it without complaint, rather she cried over her pitiful state compared to His holiness.  Her tears become the water basin and her hair became the towel.  Anointing his feet with the costly gift of love, somehow, she knew despite its extravagance, it would never be enough to repay what He would do in taking away her sins.  Therefore, with love and sorrow meeting together in her heart, she kissed His feet unashamedly.

Christ’s Precious Gift

Luke 7:39-43 “Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.  And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.  There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.  And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?  Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.” 

As if her actions weren’t appalling enough, Simon the Pharisee thought Jesus’ were more so.  The self-righteous have a way of silently judging the actions and suppositions of others while maintaining a high regard for their own interest and view of self.

This Pharisee was taken aback more by Jesus, I think, then this woman.  She was a noted sinner, and nobody expected better of her.  But, Jesus…  He had his mind made up about Him.  Whatever reason pressed on him to invite Jesus to dinner in the first place, the fact is at this point he thinks of Jesus in a low fashion to the point of questioning in himself whether or not He is truly a man of God at all or not: “If he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.”

The word “if” tells the story of where he believes Jesus is coming from.  A prophet is a holy man of God.  Throughout history they have been special vessels set aside to be God’s spokesmen.  One who claims connections with God as tight as Jesus claims should know or at least sense sin when they see it.  Therefore, why would He let the likes of her even come near Him, let alone touch Him as she has done? One conclusion comes to mind as far as the Pharisee sees.  To him, Jesus is not a real prophet.

Too bad so many focus only on what appears to be so on the outside in that day as well as our own.  Earlier, explaining His choice to eat with sinners, Jesus taught, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick,” (Luke 5:31).  Jesus was not, and has never, and never will entertain sin!  Please get that right!  However, Jesus knows that people from all manner of life need a Savior regardless of how the rest of the world views them.  It may be harder for those such as the self-righteous Pharisees to see their need, but for this woman and others like her, she had no problem weeping at the feet of Jesus.

Jesus, knowing what he was thinking, used this as an opportunity to shed some spiritual light on the darkness of his heart and others in the room who may be inwardly scowling as well.  With a parable He spoke of a “creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.”  Both owed the creditor, one more than the other, significantly so; yet, neither had means to pay back accordingly.  In either situation they were both subject to whatever the creditor should do to penalize their faulty stance.

In that day they couldn’t file bankruptcy and get a clean slate to start over.  There were no government assisted credit remediation programs.   In other areas of the Bible it tells of stories where children could be taken to work off debt (2 Kings 4:1-7); he and all his family could be sold into slavery (Matthew 18:24-25); and, so on.  A debt owed would be a debt repaid one way or another.  I find it no small coincidence that when teaching the disciples how to pray they Lord’s Prayer, the words rendered in midst, plead: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” (Matthew 6:12), for truly it is and was a debt owed that could never be repaid by human standards.

Nonetheless, in the telling of His parable, Jesus noted the actions of the creditor.  He took it upon himself, as the one who had the power to demand payback, to remit the balance and cancel the charge against both.  “He frankly forgave them both.” 

Simon was probably startled a little by its telling because not too many persons would cancel a debt so easily and not demand payment.  Rarely does one walk away from money, especially if it was yours to begin with.  The creditor had the right to obtain what was lawfully his, but he chose, out of compassion (we are assuming), not to do so.

Drawing him out of his musings, Jesus asked, “Which of them will love him most?”  Simon’s response, whether he wanted to admit it or not, was appropriate.  He said, “I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.”  He that stood to lose the most but gained the most grace instead – it is he that will be the most grateful and “love him most.” 

When forgiveness erases debt and pardon has been enacted that a life may remain to thrive in freedom, it inspires love.  “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love…” (Proverbs 17:9).  If this is true for a man how much more with God?  Jesus therefore said, “Thou hast rightly judged.”

Luke 7:44-47 “And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.  Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.  My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.  Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”

If Simon failed to do what was according to custom for an honored guest one must question his real motives for inviting Jesus to dinner at all.  Was there a genuine interest in Jesus and what He represents, or was it another worked up ploy of some of the Pharisees to trap Jesus in words or actions?  At this point one can only speculate.

According to custom everything the woman did in an over the top fashion should have already been performed as normal service for a guest coming into a house, especially the house of a respected Pharisee.  We have already discussed about the feet being washed (which Simon failed to provide for).  But, other social codes performed were the kiss of greeting by the host (which Simon failed to do; for examples see Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12), and anointing the head with oil (which again, Simon fell short of social courtesy).  These were ways to express honor and respect, and help refresh one when coming into a house, particularly to a dinner or feast.  But this sinful woman offered up extravagant oil for His feet whose perfume would fragrance the whole house.

Jesus said of her, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much.”  Her actions spoke volumes of being remorseful and repentant.  No, her works did not save her.  No, her expensive gift did not make room in heaven for her.  At some point she realized the great relief Jesus could bring to her messed up life.  Did she hear Him through a previous teaching?  Who knows?  What matters now is her humility of heart before the Savior seeking forgiveness.

Jesus said, “For she loved much” because she was forgiven much.  Whereas one who believes they are alright may not express the same deep regard for forgiven sin.  As opposed to “whom little is forgiven,” that individual may take for granted the gift of grace, as hinted at in the story of the two debtors.

Luke 7:48-50 “And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.  And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?  And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”

“Thy sins are forgiven,” were the blessed words the Savior spoke over the sinner here and in our life as well.  Jesus didn’t justify what she did, but He forgave her.  Let me make this very clear again, God will never, ever condone our sin or pat us on the back for it, but we can be free from them.  Like that woman, we could be standing in the midst of our mess, but He is ready, holding the keys to your release.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9).   Turn to Him in all humility of heart, confess and accept it today!

“Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”  Coming to Jesus with all our wrongs and trusting Him to heal and forgive is a walk of faith; steps that begin with believing in Him as the Savior of our soul.  It’s the only way to find true peace in one’s life.

No matter who you are or where you are from, Jesus can forgive any sins of those who come to Him in faith and trust in His free gift of salvation.  Today, if you are not born again and you want to find release as the woman in today’s lesson did, I urge you to take care of it immediately.  Above, I quoted 1 John 1:9 which was written to a church of believers who already knew Christ as their Savior.  If you want your confession to work you must be born again, then like the woman we too can find release and forgiveness.

Speaking with Nicodemus one night, Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” (John 3:5).  “Then Peter said unto them, 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).

Be blessed, come to Him in faith and accept His forgiveness today!

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 – Saved by Faith

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Saved by Faith

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Saved by Faith

Word Search: Saved by Faith Word Search  Answers: Saved by Faith Word Search Answers

Crossword: Saved by Faith Crossword  Answers: Saved by Faith Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Saved by Faith Word Scramble  Answers: Saved by Faith Word Scramble Answers

Alabaster Flask Lace-Up Craft: Alabaster Flask Lace-Up Craft (Cardstock is best to use.  I used gold ribbon due to the expensive nature of the gift and cut a slit for “oil” to flow out of the top.  Enjoy!)

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Alabaster Flask Lace Up Craft-001

Draw the Scene: Saved By Faith Draw the Scene

 

 

Memory Verse: Saved By Faith Memory Verse

 

How Many Words: Saved by Faith How Many Words

 

 

Sunday School Lesson – “The Centurion’s Great Faith” Luke 7:1-10

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 7:1-10 (KJV, Public Domain)

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.

 The Centurion Seeks Help from Jesus

 Luke 7:1-3 “Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.  And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.  And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.”

Before arriving at today’s lesson, Jesus taught a powerful sermon consisting of blessings and woes.  He interjected these lessons with questions and spiritual insights including once asking “Can the blind lead the blind?” (Luke 6:39).  He also pointed out “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good,” (Luke 6:45).  Jesus ends chapter 6 inquiring “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”  (Luke 6:46), comparing the foundations of their spiritual lives.

After this teaching session, “when he ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.”

“Capernaum,” situated on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, was known for fishing and trade.  More known to us today, it was the place considered to be home-base of operations or headquarters, if you will, of Jesus’ ministry.  He is noted on several occasions as going to Capernaum (see Matthew 4:13; Luke 4:31; John 2:12, and so on).  People also knew this was a place where He could probably be found and sought for Him there (see John 6:24).

Therefore, this small village of only approximately 1,500 people or so became etched in history as a place where Jesus walked and taught; a place where miracles were performed, and faith was noted as being great for one man.

The possessor of that “great faith” enters the scene when someone near to him falls to the afflictions of sickness and no other help will do outside of the intervention of Jesus.  He is known as a “centurion,” meaning in charge of hundreds.  He is a man who is a leader during the Roman occupation of the land.  He has authority (of which will be discussed later).  He has position.  And though considered not one of the people, his faith, as Jesus will note, was exhibited to a greater degree than those of His own people.

The centurion’s position was prestigious; nonetheless, he had a compassionate side and cared for those under him.  This may not be the normal picture of a Roman soldier that immediately comes to mind, but it was for this man.  He had a “servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die,” (vs. 2).  With the usage of the word “dear”, it points out his genuine concern and affection for this particular servant.  Again, this is far from the idea of these soldiers we know of.

The point is, the individual of his concern was “sick, and ready to die.”  When we read of the same account in Matthew it tells us he was, “sick of the palsy, grievously tormented,” (Matthew 8:6).  From this description, we know that he suffered from pain and was paralyzed.  Whatever brought on this disease it seemed to progress to the point of agony, causing the centurion to believe his servant’s life was in danger.  He was, as he believed, “ready to die.”

Therefore, out of his concern he sought for the only remedy he could – Jesus.  We are not sure exactly when or where he became aware of Jesus.  Being stationed in Capernaum, Jesus’ home base of ministry, it was only a matter of time before he became exposed to His miracles and teachings.  Either by way of others, or maybe even having the chance to witness it himself, he found out that Jesus heals and sought His help.

“When he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.”  Many are familiar with the animosity that was present in that day between the Jewish people and their oppressors of the Roman Empire.  History often shows that people are generally not favorable to those who invade their lands and take over.

Yet, this centurion seems to have secured a favorable relationship with the village and the leaders therein.  So much so, he had no qualms about seeking their assistance in bringing to Jesus’ attention the plight of his sick servant.

Oh, the humility of character this man in charge exhibited.  He was in a position to order (as later he demonstrates he can) and take charge, yet he simply seeks assistance.  The Bible encourages us, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men,” (Romans 12:18).  This includes people over you, people under you, and people all around you.  There are many rewards of maintaining positive relationships and one can never tell who God has placed in one’s path to provide for much-needed help.

Luke 7:4-5 “And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.”

The “elders” have no reservations in talking with the centurion commander or with communicating to Jesus his need.  Therefore, “they besought him instantly.”  With great urgency “they came to Jesus” and presented the centurion’s case before Him.  They noted, “he was worthy for whom he should do this.”  The favor this man showed to the Jewish people earned him a good reputation among the villagers.

Standing as an advocate before Jesus, they speak well of his character, pointing out “for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.”  There is much speculation on exactly what is being said here in regard to the centurion himself.  Did he build the synagogue as a means to just keep the peace?  Was this some sort of political tactic?

I could be wrong, but I disagree with this view.  The elders made a point of using the word “loveth” in describing his relationship toward the “nation.”  Could it be there was a genuine spark of wanting alive in him, for He, whom the Jewish people were serving?  Living in such close proximity of the people, maybe he had an opportunity to review his life and compare what he previously knew, to those who were living as God’s people.  Perhaps he wanted more and participated in the only way he knew how.  Who knows?  We can only imagine that in some way or form God was working on his heart.

The Centurion’s Faith Commended by Jesus

Luke 7:6-8 “Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.  For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.”

After hearing the story of the centurion and his servant, Jesus went with the men who had advocated the man’s plight.  One of the things I love about Jesus is it doesn’t take much to move Him.  People overcomplicate faith until it can’t be recognized.  Jesus simply heard them out and with the compassionate heart, He has He was ready to move into action to help, yes, even this Gentile.

Coming near the house, the centurion makes a surprise move.  Sending out friends he stops the progression of Jesus from coming into his house.  He knows his position in life.  He knows that he is not one of “these” people.  He knows that he is “not worthy.”

One of his greatest characteristics he shows here is his humility.  I see too many in our day brazen enough to approach God any kind of way as if it is owed to them.  I cringe at it all.  Pridefulness is against everything pertaining to God and something God will fight against (see James 4:6).  Rather, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word,” (Isaiah 66:2; emphasis mine).  God pays attention to the humble.

As a man in authority, he doesn’t lift himself up demanding to be seen.  He humbly and respectfully recognizes who he is, and he recognizes who Jesus is, and counts his own self “not worthy.”  He didn’t take it upon himself to approach Jesus, therefore sending the elders previously and now his friends as well, holding Him off from entering “under my roof.”  How are we approaching Jesus?  Do we have hearts lifted up, feeling we deserve the privilege to be heard and blessed, or are we surrendered respectfully to Him, recognizing His holiness compared to our human weaknesses?

This centurion not only possessed a special measure of humility, but he also possessed a faith that was uncommon.  He said, “But say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.”  Wow!  He didn’t need Jesus to come to his house.  In his faith, he didn’t need Jesus to touch his servant in a special way.  But he understood what most in that day, and even today, fail to realize: all Jesus has to do is speak a word.

The word of Christ is powerful.  Operating under the same authority as His Father, He could count it done whatever He speaks (Psalm 33:9).  It will come to pass!  He can literally speak healing into any situation, and it will obey His command and bring about deliverance (see Psalm 107:20).  This centurion recognized His authority and the capacity to do the impossible even from a distance.

Explaining how he came to the conclusion of viewing Jesus and his situation, he said, “For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.”  As a commander of the Roman army he knows what it is to take orders and obey the commands of one’s superiors.  At the same time, he understands his own position well.  At any given time, he can issue an order and expect nothing less than complete follow through.  He had the right in his ranking to do so.

Viewing Jesus, he perceived His power operated to an even higher degree than his own.  He knew that all Jesus had to do was speak, and healing would obey.  Whatever sickness bound his servant would have to bend to the will the Savior and obey His orders.  This is the same Jesus whom the winds and waves obeyed (see Matthew 8:27).  This is the same one who made demons tremble and come out of people (see Mark 1:21-34).  This same Jesus was a part of Creation (Colossians 1:16).  And, this same Jesus is able to save those who come near to Him (Hebrews 7:25).  He has opened the eyes of the blind, healed leprosy, unstopped deaf ears and raised the dead back to life.  This centurion saw in Him the power to do what needed to be done to heal his servant, and he believed!

Luke 7:9-10 “When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.  And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.”

Jesus was amazed at his response.  He had not met anyone in Israel who had so recognized His authority and power as this man; someone whom willing gives himself over to total abandon to trust Jesus to heal and believe that He will.

Astounding!  This was the true epitome of “great faith!”

When one’s faith is centered on Jesus, healing can take place.  Not just physical healing, as we see here in this lesson.  But emotional, spiritual, relational…, in every area of life that needs restoration, Jesus is able to heal.  But it only comes about by faith.  The Bible reminds us, and I quoted a portion of it earlier in the introduction, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” (Hebrews 11:6).  The centurion filled this faith criterion.  Beyond a shadow of a doubt, he knew that Jesus was able to do all that he had known of Him, and he sought Him with an open heart of belief.

Jesus spoke highly on his behalf, saying, “I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”  If we were to put our spiritual thermometer in the waters of faith, how would we measure up?  Would we be found on the “greater than” side of faith or on the “less than” side?

Faith is the access key to everything God wants to do through us and for us.  Jesus once taught, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.,” (Matthew 21:22; emphasis mine).  One must believe as the centurion did that Jesus can do this for you, too.

One of my favorite portions of Scripture reminds me that our God is the good Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children, (see Matthew 7:9-11).  Really, He is!  Therefore, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” (Matthew 7:7).

The miracles of Jesus were not just for the benefit of the receivers.  Through the retelling of them, we are able to build ourselves up in our own faith and be encouraged by what we read.  Verses like John 20:31 tell us, “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name,” which is the ultimate end to having great faith – life eternal.

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 – The Centurion’s Great Faith

Suggested Activities:

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Dear Jesus

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Dear Lord

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

Draw the Scene: The Centurion’s Great Faith Draw the Scene

Jesus Heals Bandage Bookmarkers: Just print, color, and cut out.  I suggest using cardstock or gluing to construction paper for support. Enjoy! Jesus Heals Bookmarks

Jesus Heals Bookmarks-001

Memory Verse: The Centurion’s Great Faith Memory Verse

Word Search: The Centurion’s Great Faith Word Search  Answers: The Centurion’s Great Faith Word Search Answers

Crossword: The Centurion’s Great Faith Crossword  Answers: The Centurion’s Great Faith Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: The Centurion’s Great Faith Word Scramble  Answers: The Centurion’s Great Faith Word Scramble Answers

Sunday School Lesson – “Jesus Calls His Followers” Luke 5:1-11; 6:13-16

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 5:1-11; 6:13-16 (KJV, Public Domain)

Discipleship is more than just putting a title of disciple or follower on an individual.  To be a genuine disciple, one must adhere themselves to a particular teacher and/or teaching and mark their lives after them.

A disciple was one who was all in.  And, for Jesus’ disciples, that’s what His calling literally meant, both physically and spiritually.  Physically, during His three and half years of ministry, these men would follow Jesus everywhere.  As was custom for the disciples of the day, in order to gain a thorough understanding of a teacher and his teachings, a disciple would literally follow the teacher in order to properly learn of him.

Spiritually, no less a dedicated lifestyle and heart-style would be required.  For each of Jesus’ call to one of these chosen men to follow Him, there had to be a positive response on their part.  More than just answering the call physically was required.  There had to be more than just curiosity about this man and what He would do or say next.  There had to be a pull of heart to believe in Him and the words He spoke. 

Some of the names we will learn about are more familiar than others because their stories we have heard of over the years and there is plentiful information about them.  Whereas, some the information is scarce and there’s not that much to go on.  Some names will link us to events for their calling or for certain deeds done, for good or bad.  But all are an integral part of Jesus’ story and that of His followers.  And, all are important to biblical history as a whole.

Four Up-Front (Luke 5:1-11)

 1. “And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,

2. And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.

3. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.

4. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.

5. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.

6. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.

7. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.

8. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

9. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:

10. And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.

11. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.”

If you grew up in a house with more than one sibling or you took rides with friends at times, before all ran to pile in the vehicle, you would often hear one word yelled out by someone: “Shotgun!”

Shotgun was called by someone who wanted to sit up front; by someone who wanted the more prominent seat.  They didn’t want to be in the back crammed together with the others.  They wanted to be where the driver was, the lead person.

Jesus had many disciples and followers, as you could see in the gathered crowds and in the sending out of the seventy (see Luke 10:1-23).  And then as our lesson points out, He had twelve close disciples.  But, even out of those twelve there were some who were always closer to Jesus and appear in more prominent positions and events than the others.  In this first section of this lesson, we are going to focus on those names of the men who Jesus called first (compare Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-21).

To get a better understanding of the story of the call of His followers, we are going to have to do some bouncing around with verses.  Some parts of the story will appear in one place, and some in other places with greater detail.  It is my hope to put together a complete picture of events and people before and during their call.

In Luke 6:12, we find out that before Jesus handpicked any of His disciples, He spent all night in prayer before God.  We need to grasp the importance of this.  Jesus Christ was the Word at the beginning (John 1:1) and He is that same Word made flesh in prayer before the same God whom He was with at the beginning (John 1:1, 14).  Grab hold of this – Jesus, God in the flesh (Matthew 1:23), conferred with God the Father all night in prayer, before choosing His twelve disciples.

As I stated before, while many followed Jesus, there would be twelve closer ones.  These men would move not only into full-on discipleship, but they would move into apostleship, meaning they were not just followers, but they were special messengers that would be sent.  Because of the importance of these men, the important roles they would play, the choice had to be keen and precise.

Please Note: Jesus put great emphasis on prayer and spending time before the Father.  I emphasized above that He was the Word at the beginning and God in the flesh.  If He, being all of that, felt such a strong need to constantly be in prayer, why do so many believe they can get on in life without doing the same things?  We may not have the same decisions and choices before us, but our connection to the Father is the same through Christ.  And, we should want to honor Him in prayer and seek His face with our daily life, with its decisions and choices.

With that, when the disciples met Jesus, each would have a choice to make.  Each one’s name would become recorded forever in the Word of the Living God for us to study and learn from.

From the beginning of His earthly ministry Jesus’ preaching and messages had a great impact on those who heard Him.  Just in the chapter before, Luke 4, Jesus had endured and overcome His forty days of temptation of the devil in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13).  Immediately following, He returns to the Galilee area “in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 414-15) and began teaching in the synagogues.  It is in these verses where Luke makes a special not on the immediate impact Jesus had.  He was “being glorified of all” (Luke 4:15).

Shortly after, when He declared He was the fulfiller of Isaiah’s prophecy, His words, though true that they were, caused others to question the validity of His proclamation, and yes, this early on in His ministry, they even tried to kill Him (Luke 4:16-30).

Nevertheless, Jesus was not deterred from His mission and all that it entailed before Him.  He went forth healing people both physically and spiritually (Luke 4:31-42), and He went forth preaching in the “synagogues of Galilee,” (Luke 4:43-44).

Now, it was time to gather those who would work the work with Him while He was here, and who would carry on with their parts at His earthly ending, and even after His ascension.

So, with Jesus’s ministry already being so impactful on the people in the region, on this day, as chapter 5 begins, “the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God,” (Luke 5:1).  An urgency stirred in the hearts and minds of the people when they heard about this man Jesus.  That urgency compelled them to press in for more.  And, the “more” that they wanted was the Word of God!

When was the last time when we’ve heard of crowds gathered in a genuine press in our day for God’s Word such as these were doing?  When was the last time you were compelled to press for more of Him?  Let that sink in for a minute.

Those in the synagogues may have tried to get rid of Him, but for this gathered crowd, all they wanted was to be near Jesus and to hear the Word of God.  They may not have immediately identified Him as the Son of God, but the way He spoke (Luke 4:22) drove them to want more.

Jesus had a thing for crowds.  Not for the reason many seek to have crowds around them today – for showmanship and such.  No, but Jesus would often look at the crowds with compassion (Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34).  He knew they were missing something very important in their lives, and He has come to fill that void.

Therefore, when He speaks to this immediate crowd, He looks for a better vantage point to relay what He had to say there that day.  This would give everybody there more of a chance to see and hear Him without obstruction.

For that reason, when He saw “two ships standing by the lake,” He would use them to speak to the hearts gathered, and call others to come even closet to follow Him.

The “fishermen” were on the shore “washing their nets” (for this was a necessary chore in the maintenance of the equipment that fueled their livelihood), so Jesus boarded “Simon’s” ship and asked him to push off a little bit from land.  Now, not only was His physical position elevated some, but by pushing off it widens the view for more to see.

With that, He “sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.”  We are not given the details of this particular teaching or message, but this would not be the last time Jesus would use a ship as a pulpit to teach the multitudes (compare Matthew 13:2).  And, being that the crowds continued to follow Him even after the events in today’s lessons (compare Matthew 4:25; 8:1; Mark 3:7-8), and yet event to the point of His death (Luke 23:27), whatever He taught, it meant something to them.

After spending time teaching the multitude, now it was time to focus on those who would be called to go deeper with Him than the waters in the Sea of Galilee.  He turns to “Simon,” saying, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.”  Jesus gives this long-time fisherman instructions on how to make a catch.

Now, we must make a special note here.  Before we reach this point in the lesson, and in Jesus’ ministry, Jesus had previously met Simon, who is Peter, and his brother Andrew (see John 1:40-42).  But it wasn’t until this point where they are called to leave their trade for good and become fishers of men.

Back to the catch of the day – these experienced fishermen have worked at it all night without success.  The frustration and tiredness had to be presently upon these men as they washed their nets and were ready to call it a day.

When Jesus tells Simon to get back at it, to try one more time, I can imagine the heaviness and the weariness he must have felt as he tried to explain to Jesus about the “nothing” they have caught.  Simply put, Simon didn’t negotiate or go back and forth in his effort to explain too much.  Looking at Jesus, he simply responded, “Nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.”

“I will.”  Those two words hold the heart of faith and obedience.  Simon Peter already knew the reality of the fruitless catch they failed to bring in, but at this point, he also knew a little bit about Jesus.  Therefore, he said, “I will.”

What he felt and what he saw didn’t matter.  What did matter was Jesus who was before him, speaking to him to, “let down your nets.”  And, when he did, they were rewarded with nets that were so heavy with fish that they were breaking (vs. 6).  Calling for their companions to help, the catch proved to be even greater than they previously thought, for now, the load of fish is so heavy it “filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.”

Wow!  What started out as a disappointing night turned into a very fruitful day.  Disappointment gave way to what I am sure was rejoicing by most there.  But “Simon Peter” had a whole different perspective when he took his eyes off the fish and centered himself on the one who instructed him to let down the nets and fish again.

Simon Peter focused more on the miracle maker than the miracle itself and he came to one very realistic conclusion, Jesus was so much more.  He was more than the miracle.  He was more than what they previously believed.  He was just more, and this realization hit him like a ton of bricks.

“When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees.”  He is humbled in His presence and realizes just how far off the mark he is in comparison to the One who is before him.  Thus, he speaks, “Depart from me: for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”  To know one’s true state before the presence of the Lord is a good place for God to start doing some amazing things in that life.

If the draught of fish astonished them, Jesus’ next words would draw them and call them into something far more amazing.  Speaking not only to Peter and Andrew, but to “James, and John, the sons of Zebedee” who assisted them in the draught, Jesus said, “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.”

Their nets were breaking over the amount of fish they brought it, but these men, after Jesus was done teaching them, and would go back to heaven… these men were going to shake up the world for the glory of the Kingdom of God.

They have seen more than enough to know what they ought to do with their lives.  They were wholly convinced that where Jesus was is where they needed to be, and they responded positively to His call.  “They forsook all, and followed him.”  Anything the world had to offer couldn’t compare with doing what Jesus was calling them to do.

Twelve All Together (Luke 6:13-16)

13. “And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;

14. Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,

15. Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes,

16. And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.”

Having already covered the call of “Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John,” in the section above, I won’t expand on them further here.  Rather, I’ll focus on the other eight names that appear on the list of Jesus’ closest twelve followers; His disciples.  These “twelve” disciples would then be “named apostles” by the Lord.  The word “disciples” are ones that follow and learn.  But as “apostles,” these would not only be called to follow and learn, but they would be called to be “sent” as well, for that’s the meaning behind the word “apostle;” to be “sent.”

Having already stated that some of these names we know little about, we will try to look a little deeper behind the scenes of these men, regardless of who they are or what’s known or unknown about them, to gain a better understanding of those who walked closest to our Savior during His ministry.

The first two on the list of the remaining eight is “Philip and Bartholomew.”  When we go back and take a look at John 1, there it tells us the day after He met with Peter and Andrew, Jesus went “forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me,” (vs. 43).

The next verse explains that it was easy enough for Jesus to locate this man because he was actually from the same area as Andrea and Peter (John 1:44).

It was then “Philip” who went to find Nathanael (who many suppose is “Bartholomew” as he is called in Luke 6), and excitedly explained, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph,” (John 1:45).

Then, it was Nathanael’s (Bartholomew) turn to be amazed as he voiced his wonder of it all when he asked, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).

And, if we thought he was in wonder before, when he met Jesus, Jesus greeted him in a way that took him by total surprise.  Jesus said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (John 1:47).  Putting an exclamation point at the end gave even more credence to Jesus’ proclamation of Nathanael (Bartholomew).

In surprise, not even believing Jesus knew his name, let alone other details of his life, Nathanael asked Jesus, “Whence knowest thou me?” (john 1:48).  It was here and now that Jesus would prove that not only did He know his name, but He knew so much more.

Jesus explained, “Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee,” (John 1:48).  Although Jesus was human, Jesus was also divine.  At this moment, a glimpse of His deity was showing.  In speaking words that reveal He not only knows, but He sees – Jesus is laying a groundwork of faith in this man’s heart, and in all those who read these words.  He is literally showing them that He is God in the flesh – He is showing them that beyond a shadow of a doubt, He is the Son of God.

To his credit, Nathanael (Bartholomew) picks up on it and expresses “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel,” (John 1:49).  He knew right then and there; this wasn’t an ordinary prophet or traveling preacher.  He recognized Jesus as the Son of God.

But Jesus assured him that in his calling to follow Him and to be one of His disciples/apostles, that he would “see greater things than these,” (John 1:50).  Jesus plainly stated, regarding His deity identity, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man,” (John 1:51).  Jesus, as the “Son of man” had a supernatural connection to heaven, and those nearest Him would be witnesses of that power.

What a call to follow!

After Jesus’ resurrection, Nathanael (Bartholomew) was with Peter and other disciples that decided to go back to fishing when Jesus met them for the third time before His ascension (see John 21:2).  Together, he along with the others, witness a post-resurrection miraculous catch of fish.

Going back a little to Philp, he too, being in Jesus’ close circle of twelve, witnesses many miracles, including the feeding of the five thousand.  At that time, it was to Philip Jesus asked, “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” (John 6:5).  On that day, thousands were miraculously filled, and twelve baskets of fragments were left over from “five barley loaves, and two small fishes,” (John 6:9, 12-13).  Philip, along with the others that day, witnessed once again Jesus deity in action, and were left in awe and wonder, saying, “This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world,” (John 6:14).

For other verses surrounding Philip, read John 12:20-21 and 14:8.  Outside of the several lists of these called twelve, both Philip and Bartholomew, along with the remaining eleven (for at that time Judas Iscariot was no longer with them – Acts 1:16-19), can be seen in the Book of Acts, gathered together in the upper room in prayer.

The next name on the list is “Matthew.”  The men that Jesus picked came from varied backgrounds.  Matthew, although a Jew, was in a position where he was despised by his own countrymen.

Matthew is also known as Levi (compare Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27-29).  After Jesus called some of His first disciples, He went about teaching and doing many miracles (see Matthew 4:23-8:34; Mark 1:21-45; Luke 5:12-26).

One of the miracles that all accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke have in common is the healing of the man with palsy (see Matthew 9:2-8; Mark 2:3-4; Luke 5:18-19).  This was the man who was lowered down through the roof by his friends.  This is also the man through whom Jesus showed another aspect of His deity: the power to forgive sins (Matthew 9:2; Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20).

Now, in my personal opinion, this was important because the very next disciple/apostle that Jesus would call would be a man that many probably thought was beyond the grace of God’s forgiveness.

Matthew was a “publican” (Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27), which simply means he was a local tax collector.  This man was considered a traitor to his people.  Publicans were locals who were employed by the Romans to collect taxes.  People such as these were known for fleecing their own pockets at the expense of their countrymen.  They would collect what the Romans required and then added a little more for themselves, making it all that much harder on those who had to pay.

But there was something in this particular publican that Jesus could see.  While others only looked at him through the lens of his occupation, Jesus saw someone who would be a more than dedicated follower and would write the first gospel of the New Testament.

In Matthew 9:10-13, Mark 2:15-17, and Luke 5:29-32 we see that Matthew (Levi) made a great feast where not only Jesus attended, but others he knew, people whom the world had considered to be of ill repute.

Shocked, the scribes and Pharisees couldn’t believe what they were seeing, and questioned, “Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?” (Luke 5:30; see also Matthew 9:11 and Mark 2:16).  It is here Jesus explains His mission.  He says, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” (Luke 5:31-32; see also Matthew 9:12-13 and Mark 2:17).

I imagine Matthew was well aware of who he was and who Jesus was, and he was grateful for the call of a changed life.  Jesus took him from “despised” to “disciple” when He called him to “Follow me,” (Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27).

The next name on the list of disciples according to Luke’s account is “Thomas.”  Yes, this is the same Thomas who has been dubbed as “doubting Thomas.”

After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to some of His disciples, and at that time Thomas (also called Didymus) was not present (see John 20:24), and said he would not believe that Jesus rose unless he was able to see and examine by touch the “print of the nails” and “thrust my hand into his side,” (John 20:25).

But people forget that Thomas had another side to his story.  When news came that Lazarus had died and Jesus was going back to “Judaea where the Jews have sought to stone” Him (John 11:7-8), it was Thomas (not Peter, Andrew, James or John) who boldly spoke up and said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him,” (John 11:16).  He loved Jesus, and at this point, he was ready to follow Him to the grave.

Then, we have “James the son of Alphaeus.”  While there is much speculation about this particular James, the Bible only gives us a few details about who he actually is.  He was referred to in Mark 15:40 as “James the less,” probably called such because of his younger age or for being shorter in size in comparison to the other James, John’s brother.  This James also had a mother whose name was Mary.

“Simon called Zelotes” is the next name on the lists of the twelve as recorded by Luke.  In Matthew 10:4 and Mark 3:18 he is referred to as “Simon the Canaanite.”  It is unsure if his name is associated with a radical group who was against the Romans, or if the wording of “Zealots” is referring to his personal character of being very zealous for the Lord.

Nearing the end of this list, we have two Judas’ to deal with.  The first is “Judas the brother of James.”  It is supposed by many that this Judas is also referred to as “Thaddaeus” in Matthew 10:3 and Mark 3:18.

Lastly, the name that always appears in the last position of the lists in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and doesn’t appear at all in the Acts 1:13 list is that of “Judas Iscariot.”  For his acts against Christ in selling Him out to the authorities of the day, Judas’ name is identified by his heinous actions.  He is called “traitor” here in Luke 6.  In both Matthew 10:4 and Mark 3:19, he is known as the man who “betrayed” Jesus.

It was he that went to the chief priests, and asked, “What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?” (Matthew 26:15).  It was he that betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Matthew 26:47-49).  And, it was he that received “thirty pieces of silver” for his deed against Christ (26:15; 27:3).

Acts 1:16-19 tells of his death.

There we have them.  Twelve men.  Twelve personalities, whose backgrounds varied among them.  Nevertheless, these twelve were called by Jesus to “Follow Me,” and each did just that.  Whatever their life was identified before they became a disciple/apostle, now that they have experienced walking with Jesus during these years of His earthly ministry, their lives will never be the same.

Jesus is still calling for people to follow Him today.  Have you?  If not, will you?

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 – Jesus Calls His Followers

 

Suggested Activities:

Fishing Craft Game:  Draw and cut out on construction paper shapes of fish.  Glue a little magnet on the back of each one.  Use a wooden dowel or a stick from outside and tie a string to it.  Glue a magnet string to the bottom of the string.  Use a timer and see how many fish your students can catch.  Use this analogy to describe that’s how enthusiastic we should be, as disciples of Christ, when reaching people or “fishing for people” for Jesus.  We should want to hurry and “catch” as many as we can.  (You can even break off into teams and make it a friendly competition.)

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Sunday School Lesson – “Jesus Teaches His Followers” Luke 6:20-31

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 6:20-31 (KJV, Public Domain)

What does Christianity look like?  To some, it may seem to be a list of dos and don’ts.  To others, it may seem the religious thing to carry a certain righteous air about them, separateness from the common man, so to speak.  But, as was becoming custom, Jesus’ view of what it really means to be His follower and God’s people differed from what most preconceived ideas believed.  And the awesome thing about Jesus’ view, He didn’t just teach it, He lived it.

True Blessedness

Luke 6:20 “And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.”

In the verses prior to this lesson, Luke 6:12-19, there it records that Jesus drew away into an all-night prayer meeting with God the Father.  The Son and the Father communed together on an intimate level that no one else was privy to; just they by themselves, one on one.  Oh, to be a fly on that wall.

Following that, Jesus chose His twelve disciples and began to heal the multitudes that have already begun to gather and follow Him.

The first words He spoke to them when coming down in the plain is so similar to the words He spoke in the Sermon on the Mount that many Bible students are unable to decide if these two messages are one and the same, or are they separate occasions.

He said, “Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.”  When someone says something is “yours” it means they are passing ownership of said item to you.  They are giving you the right and the privilege to operate in what was given.

It’s the “poor,” the impoverished who truly appreciates what is given to them both in the physical and in the spiritual.  One who is “poor” realizes they have nothing in and of themselves.  They are totally dependent.  They agree with the Apostle Paul when he wrote, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” (2 Cor. 3:5); but these are “blessed;” who are happy and find joy and acceptance in God’s kingdom.  They are appreciative because they know before Christ, they lacked spiritual vitality and were “poor.”  Now, in Him, they enjoy a new experience of blessedness.

Luke 6:21 “Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled.  Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.”

Jesus’ followers, God’s people, live with an expectation of being “filled.”  These verses really hone in on our life with and without Christ.  Without Him, it is truly a life of lack compared to being spiritually satisfied and complete in Him.

One that “hungers” has not yet retained enough to turn over the plate and say, “That’s it, I’m done.”  Spiritually speaking, he that “hungers” has a need for more of Him.  His soul doesn’t rest until it finds that “ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power,” Colossians 2:10.  This is where the malnourished soul is embraced and filled with the satisfaction of the Savior.

“Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.”  Many of us have been well acquainted with tears on more than one occasion.  Tears or weeping are most often shed in times of sorrow; during times of hardship and anguish.  Crying gives one an opportunity to release those pinned up emotions that stress the body and soul of man.

Whether this weeping is associated with sorrow of sin or because of adversity of the wicked, those that endure through it now will find a time when “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying…” (Revelation 21:4).

“For ye shall laugh.”  Where there is laughter, joy has replaced the sorrow that was once felt.  Where there is laughter, release is felt from the oppression of the wicked.  David once wrote, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers…” (Psalm 37:1).  If they are the source of tears, forget about it.  He goes on to say, “The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming,” (Psalm 37:13).  When God laughs, as His followers, we will share in the same joy as our Savior.

The Bible says, He will “appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…” (Isaiah 61:3), and they will be able to “laugh!”

Luke 6:22 “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.”

Acceptance, a lot of people live for it.  Being a people pleaser has drained the efforts of some to no avail.  When we live for Christ, as God’s people and His followers, it brings contentions and misunderstandings in relationships.  It draws a line in the sand between two lifestyles and those lifestyles are always in a battle against one another: those that live for the Spirit and those that live for the flesh.

Others may not understand why you can’t run with the old lifestyle that you used to.  They don’t understand that things one used to run after to satisfy the flesh is not precedent any longer.  This brings a backlash of ill-feelings toward the Christian.  They experience hatred, separateness and reproach; three words that describe being “cast out.”  You don’t live like them anymore.  You are not part of the status quo or the normal clique, and they count your name as “evil, for the Son of man’s sake,” because you are working to line your life up with Him, and not them.

Luke 6:23 “Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.”

God loves His people and we can receive of His blessings while here on this earth.  That fact is sprinkled through His Word.  But, a Christian’s permanent “reward” will never be found on this side of glory.  Jesus said, “Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven.”

It may not feel like it at the present moment but the day when they cause you harm, the day when they come against you, is a day for rejoicing because God sees and knows, and God will repay.  “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us…” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-7).  No, we do not wish ill-will on another, but God’s Word still stands true.  Your “reward” is coming!  “Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth,” (Psalm 58:11).  This life doesn’t hold what we are permanently seeking for!  But, our “reward” is coming!  “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning,” (Psalm 30:5).

“For in like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.”  It’s so hard amid trials and troubles to see that you are not the only who has ever gone through this or are going through this now.  Jesus reassured His disciple that those that have gone before them had to endure the same controversy of people not understanding their relationship as God’s people.

The book of Hebrews holds a treasury of people who have endured in the faith despite their adverse circumstances, and yet held on and believed God every step of the way.  Hebrews 11 is what some refer to as the Hall of Fame of faith.  Immediately, crossing over into chapter 12 we are told, “Seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,” (vs.1).  “Prophets” and people who have gone before us can testify that the road wasn’t easy.  They can tell their story of how they tried to do the work of God and people did not respond the way they had hoped.  They can let the cat out of the bag about how they were mistreated, used and abused because their desire was to fulfill the call of God on their lives.  They already experienced in “like manner” what Jesus is preparing His followers for.

Woeful Living

Luke 6:24-26 “But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.  Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger.  Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.  Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”

“Woe” and “for” are the markers to pay close attention to in these verses.  Remember how I quoted 2 Thessalonians 1:6 which said, “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you?”  Here is the undeniable truth that those who inflicted harm to God’s people will have the same troubles come back on them.  Did not Galatians 6:7 warn, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap?”  However one treats the people of God, the same will come back on their heads.  They will receive their just deserts.

“Woe” is not a word that you want to hear the Lord Jesus Christ speak over your life.  Nothing good ever follows a “woe.”  “Woe” to me means you better watch out now, calamity is sure to follow.  This will not be the last time Jesus uses the warning of the “woe.”  Later, during His earthly ministry He tries to shake the scribes and the Pharisees out of their ways to listen to what the Father is now establishing using the word “woe” (see Matthew 23).  When we travel even farther in the future, there are even stronger “woes” that appear in the book of Revelation.  The point is, if Jesus is saying “woe,” one better watch their step and get it right.

How We All Should Live

Luke 6:27-30 “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.  And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.  Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.”

Now Jesus presents a responsibility shift to those who would live and walk as His followers and as God’s people.  It is not only the evildoer that needs to mind his step, but the Christian must live and love people as God Himself does.

When someone has been hurt and broken the last thing on their mind is the benefit of the one who has inflicted the harm.  Jesus, knowing what He was going to accomplish on the cross was teaching His disciples to operate in this world as if He would.  Years ago, the WWJD movement became very popular.  It was based off the original book written by Charles M. Sheldon titled “In His Steps.”   The base of the book was that every thought and action was to be filtered through the question of What Would Jesus Do?

All these things that He speaks of in the above verses were things that He did; they were things that Jesus demonstrated in His own life.  “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth,” (Isaiah 53:7).  Jesus was teaching His followers that to live as God would have them to live, to live as He Himself did, you will not only have to go against the status quo and cliques of society, but you will also have to fight against your own natural inclinations that don’t want to seek the good of those who cause harm.

“Love your enemies.”  The words love and enemies do not coincide with one another according to human standards.  But Jesus is calling us to use God’s Spirit within us to operate on a supernatural level that surpasses our view of the natural world.

When one is an enemy that means that they are against us.  Yet, Jesus’ command is to love them anyhow.  Show them the same compassion as He did when He allowed them to drive the nails through His hands and feet.  He told His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).  He could’ve taken care of His enemies with one swoop of prayer, yet love compelled Him to offer Himself for their release from sin instead.

They cursed Him, yet He prayed for them, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:34).  They struck Jesus on the “cheek” (John18:22, see also Matthew 5:39) and they divided His clothes (Luke 23:34).  He went through it all and never sought His own revenge but continued forth in love.

Luke 6:31 “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”

This is the Golden Rule, as we call it today.  God’s people should know how to treat people in any circumstance, whether the times are favorable or in times of adversity.  God’s people must respond the same way Jesus did.  Philippians 2:5 tells us, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  The way we view things, people, and situations are to be filtered through thinking on how Jesus Himself would respond.  How did He handle adversities?  What was His attitude like toward those who mocked Him and so forth?  All in all, if we were to take inventory and compare our response to Jesus’, would they match up.  After all, in order to be a Christian, it means we are of Christ, we are His followers, and we are Christ-minded.  If we’re not, can we truly call ourselves Christians?

The greatest commandment that Jesus taught was, “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these,” (Mark 12:29-31, emphasis mine).  Loving people, treating people as one would want to be treated is a priority for being a follower of Christ!  It is one of the greatest commandments and it cannot be ignored!

What does Christianity look like to you now?  Are you following Jesus’ teachings for His followers?

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 – Jesus Teaches His Followers

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Sunday School Lesson – “Jesus’ Followers Follow Him” John 21:15-25

VERSE DISCOVERY: John 21:15-25 (KJV, Public Domain)

15) “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16) He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

17) He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

18) Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.

19) This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

20) Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?

21) Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?

22) Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

23) Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

24) This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.

25) And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.”

 Introduction

 As Christians, God expects us to follow Christ in every sense of the word.  Christ is our guide in everything.  As He lived, so too are we called to live.  1 John 2:6 tells us, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked,” (see also John 13:15).  Christ is our ruler whereby we measure the life we live, and His standards are the guide to our pathway.  And, in case anyone thinks that’s the easiest thing, let’s examine His call to follow Him a little more closely.

“Follow me,” are two words Jesus will speak twice to Peter in this lesson and two words we must each examine for ourselves.  Now, they may just represent themselves as two simple words out of the many that make up our language, but in truth, they are words of great impact.  Firstly, they are words that ask us to leave behind other things in order to pursue what we are called to pursue.  If you will remember, during Jesus’ earthly ministry many claimed to want to follow Jesus but made up varied excuses of why they couldn’t do it at the present time.  There were things or people or situations they weren’t ready to break free from in order to walk the steps in which Jesus walked (ex. the rich young ruler found in Mark 10:17-27; also, others found in Luke 9:57-62; 14:18-20).  The usage of excuses has not stopped today, yet He still asks us to follow Him.

Secondly, the words “follow me” is asking for a connection.  This brings us into a deeper realm of relationship and fellowship with the Savior.  This connection is so strong it calls that one to mimic the life of Christ and walk as He walked (as noted above).  It’s a life whose story with Him is one that willingly denies self to journey His same path.  In Matthew 16:24 Jesus taught His disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

Lastly, “follow me” commands that one gets involved with what He is involved with; to use our life to embark on His journey that He wills to accomplish on this earth.  Hence, we have the call to be fulfillers of The Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20.

So, as you can see, when Jesus tells Peter and eventually us to follow Him, He is asking us to join up with Him in the greatest adventure we will ever experience.  It may not always be the easiest journey, but the rewards at the end are awesome.

Lesson Summary

After His resurrection, Christ appeared to His disciples on several separate occasions.  In this lesson, the disciples had traveled to the region of Galilee, specifically, they were at the Sea of Tiberias.  It is here where seven of the remaining disciples of Jesus were found fishing.

When they encountered Jesus as He called out to them from the shore, they met up with Him and dined on a fish breakfast by the sea with their risen Savior.

It was after this impromptu meal where Jesus brought His focus in on one particular disciple out of the bunch: “Simon Peter.”  Peter was definitely a character.  His journeys with Jesus during His years of earthly ministry discloses different facets of this complex individual and his personality.

Why do I call Peter complex?  For the same reason I feel his personality identifies with so many of us today.  He is seen as sure during the time when he declared the identity of Jesus as the Son of God.  And yet, unsure when waves were tossing about him and threatening to take him under despite that same Jesus standing before him.  He is seen as loyal when he declared he would follow Jesus to death and disloyal when the opportunity came, and he denied he ever knew Him.  He was a man of faith where he left all to follow Jesus (see Luke 18:28) and when he initially stepped out of the boat.  But there was a time when his faith would only allow him to follow Jesus afar off (Luke 22:54) even though he was a part of Jesus’ inner circle (Luke 9:28; 8:51).

With the ups and downs of his temperament, and to draw him deeper into the plans and the mission the Lord has for him in total restoration, Jesus asks, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?”

Many Bible students debate on the identity of the “more than these” portion of this question.  Some believe it’s the other present disciples and some believe it’s the idea of fishing and returning to his old lifestyle and profession.  Most believe the reference is toward the disciples.  Rather, than posing the question as asking Peter if he loves the disciples more than Jesus, it is asking does Peter love Jesus more than the other disciples do.

Why is this important?

Previously, when Jesus was preparing His disciples for His death, He stated that all of them would be offended because of Him and be scattered on that night (Matthew 26:31).  But Peter, in his boastfulness and surety of self, stated, “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended,” (Matthew 26:33; see also Mark 14:29).

So now, Jesus questions him.

Previously, I published an article titled, Jesus Questions Trust, and in it, I wrote:

“What would it be like to sit across from Jesus, face to face, and have Him question your trust?  Would we be able to look Him in the eye as we pondered our answer?  Would our heads be bowed, feeling unworthy to lift it and look into the eyes of love pleading with us to believe?  What would be like?  I imagine it would be self-revealing because in those questions we find where our hearts and our true belief lies.  It reveals where we really stand in our faith.” (Word For Life Says)

I must wonder if some of these emotions are crossing Peter’s mind at the hearing of Jesus’ current question of, “Do you love Me more?” 

Please Note: While Peter was the focus of this question, I don’t believe it is reserved just for him alone.  “Do you love Me more” is a question every Christian should use to measure their own relationship with Christ to see if there is anything that we allow to take precedence over or come before Him.

But, without hesitation, Peter immediately answers, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”  Love is best exemplified in action rather than just touting it with the lips.  Sometimes it’s easier to declare one’s devotion than to actually take that stand for it when push comes to shove.

Jesus already knew the frailty of Peter’s heart in this area for when he denied Jesus on that fateful night, Jesus Himself turned and looked Peter directly in the face as if to acknowledge what He foretold (Luke 22:60-61).  At the same time, Jesus also knows how Peter “wept bitterly” when he realized what he had done (Luke 22:62).

With Jesus turning to him once again, Peter speaks confidently of his love for Christ.

Hearing his answer, Jesus instructs him to follow through that spoken devotion from his lips with action from his heart.  He said, “Feed my lambs.”  Using a shepherd/sheep metaphor is something that is not strange for Jesus to use.  He would often refer to His people as sheep or lambs whilst pointing to Himself as the Shepherd (see John 10:1-15).

For reference purposes, we know that the shepherd is the primary caregiver herdsman of the sheep.  The sheep are totally dependent upon the shepherd.  Without the shepherd’s watching, leading, guiding, and providing nature, the sheep would be unkempt, wild, lost, helpless against predators, and unable to fully provide for their own care (compare Matthew 9:36).  Shepherds not only take care of the flock, but they make sure they are fed.  The feeding that Jesus is concerned about regarding what His people will be receiving has nothing to do with bread and butter, but the Word of God (compare Matthew 4:4).

Jesus is calling Peter to step up to the plate and fulfill the calling on his life.  If you think back to the time when Peter so confidently and courageously spoke up and confessed Christ, Jesus told him, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” (Matthew 16:18).  And when Jesus knew that Peter was to deny Him, He told Peter, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not…” (Luke 22:32).  He knew the blow Peter would take due to the denial, but He also knew where Peter needed to be in the mission and so Jesus, in His questioning, is working to restore Peter and bring him to the fullness of that calling.  But, for that to happen, Peter must truly know where his own heart is.  So, Jesus asked, “Lovest thou me?”  Do you really love Me more than these other’s do?

Please Note: Before you can feed anyone else, you have to know your own heart.  The question of love must be answered by all.

Then Jesus asked Peter the “second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”  The only variance in this second round of questioning as opposed to the first time He asked is this time Jesus leaves off the “more than these” part.  But, for the second time, Jesus is really asking where the heart of Peter truly is.  If the measure of it could be weighed on a scale, would it be fluctuating up and down?  Was Peter steady in his love for Christ?

The examination of his heart goes deeper with each round of questioning.  Sometimes repetition not only reflects on what was done in the past but it opens one up to the truth of where they stand today.

Nevertheless, during this second round of questioning Peter held fast to his affirmation of devotion to Jesus, saying again, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”

Again, after receiving the answer, Jesus instructs Simon Peter, “Feed my sheep.” 

I don’t know how many moments passed between each line of questioning, but we find that Jesus asked once more, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”  This was the “third time” those words of divine heart inspection came from the lips of the resurrected Lord and into the hearing of Peter, and the Bible tells us “Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me?”  The three-time repetition surely brought to mind the three times his own mouth spoke words that wouldn’t even admit that he knew Jesus, let alone followed Him and was, in fact, one of His closest disciples and personal friends.  Because of those denials, he was now being challenged to look deep within himself and answer the questions with his all.

“And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.”  Although the line of questioning from the third time Jesus asked compared to the previous two differed in the Greek, with the previous Agape love of verses 15-16 being compared with this Phileo love He asks of in verse 17, and with the meaning of the first being supremely stronger in total devotion than the second which stands for affection; Peter openly admitted that there is nothing hidden from Christ.  Everything is open before Him, including Peter’s own heart.  Anything that Peter could reveal, Jesus already knew it all and he was confident that Jesus knew that he really did love Him despite his flawed background.

Moving on from the line of questioning, Jesus clues Peter in some of the things he would face not only in his future service to the Lord but his death as well.  Before His crucifixion, Jesus taught all His disciples that there was a cost in discipleship.  He said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me,” (Matthew 16:24; see also Luke 14:27).  This is something Peter would literally have firsthand experience with as Jesus explained to him “what death he should glorify God” with.  (By the way, did you notice those two words asking one to “follow me” in Matthew 16:24 as well?)

Jesus gave Peter a comparison of how his life looked when he was “young” and how events will play out when he is “old.”  While freedom was his for the taking and Peter could “girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest,” there would be a time when that truth is not so.  Peter would lose his freedom and be bound: “thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee.” 

Instead of tying his own garments, another would possibly tie or put him in chains and “carry thee whither thou wouldest not;” against his will and he would die a death that would bring glory to God.

The life of the Christian is not to call one into luxury and so forth where everything is a bed of roses and life is covered with peaches and cream.  The life of the Christian is often called to hard service that requires the sacrifice of much, and in some instances, even life itself. There have been many instances throughout history and there are, in many areas of the world today, where people pay the high cost of discipleship.  Let us not take lightly the times we are able to do things on our own accord and in our own power.

“When he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.”  Christ is Peter’s example of life and ministry and He is ours and He is inviting His disciples and followers from all eras to join in His journey and follow Him (more on this was discussed in the introduction; refer back there).

During their discussion, “Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following” asked, “Lord, and what shall this man do?”  Peter was referencing John who also happens to be the author of this book and the teller of these events as they are unfolding in the restoration of Peter.  He is the same disciple who was seen leaning on Jesus during the time of the Last Supper and he is also the same one whom, after being motioned by Peter, asked Jesus during the time of that supper about the one who would betray Jesus (see John 13:24-25).  If Peter himself were to suffer such a great ordeal in his future, what about John?  What would his end look like?  What would his future entail?

Please Note: Everybody’s pathway will not look alike in our journey to follow Jesus.  Some roads traveled may seem harder than others.  At the same time, one can never be sure what another is going through, therefore, comparing one’s life or ministry with another is a futile effort.  Nevertheless, all that proclaim to be of Christ are commanded to apply themselves to be diligent and faithful workers of this great calling wherewith He has called us and allowed us to walk in our own measure of faith (compare Romans 12:3).

Therefore, Jesus responds to Peter’s question, saying, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.”  Now, this portion of Scripture is not only important to Peter, but to the modern-day Christian as well.  Too many get hung up on what others are doing instead of focusing on what Christ has called them to do.  Jesus wasn’t concerned about filling in the blanks of Peter’s questions for him.  Jesus was concerned about Peter’s obedience to follow Him.

When our time on this earth comes to an end, no one will answer for the life we lived and the choices we made but us.  Nobody else is responsible for us, but us.  Therefore, our attentions should be geared toward questions that ask, “How am I doing?  Am I fulfilling the calling of God on my life?  Am I a faithful follower of Christ in every sense of the word?”  If we can honestly answer these questions about ourselves more while worrying about others less, perhaps we can get more things done for the Kingdom of God.

But, as usual, some took Jesus’ words the wrong way.  Rather than taking what He said at face value, some spread a saying about that stated, “That that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?”  To get a clear understanding of the Bible and all its teachings, including what Jesus is teaching here, proper interpretation and communication of the Word is of the utmost importance.  There is an indescribable value in the Word of God to them that believe and hold dear its truths.  Read it, absorb it for the treasure that it is.  Say like the psalmist, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law,” (Psalm 119:18), and not my own interpretation, Lord.

Our lesson ends, and the book of John ends with this conclusion: “This is the disciple which testified of these things, and wrote these things,” speaking of John himself.  After he wrote everything involving the telling of the gospel proclaimed in his self-named book and showing the story of this meeting with Jesus by the seashore and the restoration of Peter, John is ready to close this book out.  But he does not do so until he makes sure that the readers know every word within, every event stated that occurred, every portion of the life of Jesus, His death, resurrection, and the events following are absolutely, one hundred percent “true.” 

John has walked with Christ throughout His earthly ministry.  He was there at the cross when He hung for us all.  And, now he records everything for our learning, faith, and edification in Him; that we might believe that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name,” (John 20:31).

John was a faithful reporter of everything he witnessed.  So much did this story entail – did His story entail, that it all couldn’t be recorded.  To hear about all Jesus did, “even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”  That is utterly astounding!  But, out of all that is written and recorded herein, and throughout the rest of the Bible, it is up to the individual to believe in Jesus Christ for themselves and treasure these words for their own life and salvation, and make the choice for that they will follow Jesus, too.

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 – Jesus’ Followers Follow Him 

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Jesus’ Followers Follow Him

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Jesus’ Followers Follow Him

Blank Journal Pages: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages These pages can be used to express or bring out any idea you choose in the lesson.  

Draw the Scene: Jesus’ Followers Follow Him Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: Jesus’ Followers Follow Him Memory Verse

Peter Puppet Loves Jesus: This Peter Puppet affirms his love for Jesus and is made to go with this week’s lesson.  Peter Puppet 2 (Use PDF link for accurate printing.  Print out on cardstock is best and your students can make their own paper bag puppet that goes with this week’s lesson. Your students can “dress” Peter by decorating the bag. Enjoy!)

Word Search: Jesus’ Followers Follow Him Word Search  Answers: Jesus’ Followers Follow Him Word Search Answers

Crossword: Jesus’ Followers Follow Him Crossword  Answers: Jesus’ Followers Follow Him Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Jesus’ Followers Follow Him Word Scramble  Answers: Jesus’ Followers Follow Him Word Scramble Answers

Sunday School Lesson – “Jesus Empowers His Followers” John 20:19-23

VERSE DISCOVERY: John 20:19-23 (KJV, Public Domain)

“I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.”  That was the promise that God spoke through the prophet Joel, (2:28).  Ezekiel 36:26 tells us, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you…”

What God foretells through His servants, the prophecy’s that came forth, involved a part of Him (“my spirit”), coming to live on the inside (“within”) the heart of those that belong to Him.

How often had that been told to the Jewish people of old?  For generations, His promise had permeated their culture and had been passed from mouth to mouth testifying of His great promise that He wants to move into the lives of His people.

This promise of an outpouring traveled with them through wars and disobedience; through times of favor and times of disappointments.  Exile even dispelled them from their land for a time, but it could not dispel them from God’s promise.

In times before, they experienced God’s power at work in many different ways.  Now, Jesus was ready to take things to another level in bringing His people closer to that pouring out promise; one that would bring about great power, wonders, and deliverances.  Jesus was ready to breathe on them a part of Him; moving upon and in His people, the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

By the time we get to this lesson in Scripture, the deed to crucify Jesus has transpired.  He had been scourged, thorned, spit on, nailed, and pierced.  The earth shook; the body was wrapped and put in the grave, and He rose again.

Things would never be the same for His kingdom and ministry.  A new level of empowerment was on the horizon and Jesus was ready to place His stamp of approval on these men that would authorize them to work in His promise.

Jesus Appeared to His Followers

John 20:19 “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.”

Have you ever had someone sneak up on you?  I mean they just seemingly appear out of nowhere and startle you.  It’s a pretty unsettling feeling of being caught unawares.

Now imagine how the disciples who were “assembled” behind closed “doors” felt when they received the surprise of a lifetime; Jesus, their friend, their teacher, their Savior – He, who days before, had been killed and murdered at the insistence of the “Jews,” now stood before them.

To say they were completely shocked doesn’t do it justice.  If it were me, I would be completely freaked out.  Can I take your mind back for a moment when they were being tossed about in the midst of the sea, and saw Jesus walking on water?  Their response: “They were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear,” (Matthew 14:26).

At that time, they had no just cause to believe He was a spirit.  They went off the basis that it was the only logical reason that allowed Him to walk on water.

Here, they would have a very good reason to spaz, so to speak, a bit over His sighting.  Not only do they know for a fact that Jesus had been crucified, but they have heard reports that He is no longer in the tomb Joseph of Arimathea donated for the cause of His burial.

Certain women went to the tomb and pondered how they would roll the stone away only to arrive and find it had already been moved (see Luke 24:1-3; Matthew 28:1-2; Mark 16:1-4; John 20:1).  The news had spread to Peter and the rest.  Reports from the travelers on the road to Emmaus said, “The Lord is risen indeed…” (Luke 24:34).

Not only is He risen, but He is standing before them speaking, “Peace be unto you.”  Though the speaking of a greeting of “peace” was customary among the people, Jesus spoke with the intent of calming the raging storm of emotions these men were dealing with.

When Jesus appeared to them the Bible tells us, “they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit,” (Luke 24:37).  Jesus then asked them, “Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?” (Luke 24:38).

So, Jesus speaks “peace” to them.  Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”  Jesus had to refocus their troubled thoughts to see the miracle that stood before them now.

Yes, they were in troubling times.  Yes, they were dealing with confusion and disappointment, but Jesus had to calm the turmoil inside of them so that they could accept the great thing that was about to take place.  Therefore, Jesus draws them toward “peace.”

John 20:20 “And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.”

“And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side.”  He showed them proof!  Physical evidence that He had indeed risen was right in front of their faces.  Remember, according to Luke 24:37 they thought He was a spirit, but Jesus showed them the evidence in His glorified flesh.  Later, He invited Thomas to, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side…” (John 20:27).

If you will allow me, just look at how many of their 5 senses were involved to establish that Jesus was alive in the flesh:

  • Seeing – they saw Jesus. To many, we would assume, that this would be enough, but with fear running rampart they believed that He was a spirit.
  • Hearing – Jesus spoke and questioned them. Again, in the mind’s eye of their panic over what they were witnessing; what they were hearing could be attributed to a spirit.
  • Touching – This is where the real convincing begins. When one can physically feel the flesh; feel the bones underneath, it can’t get any more real than this. Jesus wasn’t afraid to be closely examined by them. He urged them to get in there and feel the proof for themselves.
  • And if perchance you want to add smelling and taste (no they didn’t smell Jesus or taste Him) but on the “third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead,” (John 21:14); Jesus invited them to “come and dine” with Him (John 21:12). The fire was going, and the fish were frying, Jesus was partaking and invited them to do the same.  And from there, as they say, the rest is history.

Jesus, beyond a shadow of a doubt, showed with many evidences that He was in fact risen and alive.

“Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.”  When they really saw that this was, in fact, their risen Lord (minus the fish fry at this point), they were overjoyed.  Where they were feeling devastated and in deep despair, now they saw hope.  That’s something to get happy about.  When they got past the shock and really “saw the Lord” for who He is, their spirits were raised, and they rejoiced.

Don’t let despair keep you from seeing Jesus.  Even when one is suffering and feeling the burden of this world pressing on them – Jesus is there.

Jesus Breathed on His Followers

John 20:21 “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”

“Peace be unto you.”  Jesus again speaks “peace” to His gathered disciples; words repeated to bring comfort to the disciples confused hearts.  Yes, on the night of His arrest they fled and left Him on His own.  They abandoned Him, but He has not forsaken them.

Now, He stands before them speaking “peace.”  Once Jesus speaks “peace” over you, don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.  One way the enemy will try to stop us is to keep us in a state of feeling like a failure, of feeling there’s no possible way Jesus can use us now.  We have messed up is what we claim, and we can’t see beyond our own faults and shortcomings to do a mighty work for Him.

Their failures were not hidden from Jesus.  Do you know how I know?  He died on the cross alone and they fled just as He said they would.  He knew it ahead of time.  But their job wasn’t to die on the cross.  And, despite their previous failures, Jesus still had a mission for them.  He said, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” 

Please Note: Sometimes we may feel too gone in our mess, but if you are here and alive today you still have purpose.  God can still use you to make a positive impact for His kingdom.  Stop focusing on the failures of yesterday!  Start focusing on the mission of today!  Jesus wants to “send” you!

The “Father” sent Jesus with a purpose; with a mission.  Now, Jesus says, “So send I you.”  In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus further defines their “sending;” their mission and their purpose.  He says, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…”

At other points during His earthly ministry Jesus sent the disciples out on mission trips, so to speak, to heal, set free, and preach the kingdom of heaven (see Mark 6:7; Matthew 10:1 and Luke 10:1).

Just because Jesus won’t physically be with them anymore, they are to still be men on a mission.  Their lives are not to be filled with mindless idleness.  They must work the purpose wherewith he “sends” them; as do we.

We are all called to go out and get involved with His ministry and “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” (Mark 16:15).

What is Jesus calling you to do to help the kingdom of God?  Where is it He wants to “send” you?  Don’t ignore the call or cower in fear.  He will empower you, as He did with these original followers, with what you need to make a difference, as our next verse tells us.

John 20:22 “And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:”

“He breathed on them.”  What is the significance of Jesus breathing on His disciples?  In both the Hebrew and Greek, the word “breath” is the same word for “spirit.”  Jesus is the only one with the authority to impart the Spirit in such a way, for Matthew 28:18 tells us, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”

“Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”  After Jesus spoke to them, He wanted them to “receive” what was necessary to carry out their sending tasks with power.  Think of it this way, different vehicles are designed different ways, but one thing they all have in common is they need a source of power to run on to make their “going” successful.  For some, the power may come from gas.  For some, diesel.  And for others, their power source may be electric or a combination of several sources.  But none will move or function the way they were designed without receiving power.

The same is true for Christ’s followers.  The “Holy Ghost” is our power source.  He steps in our life and fills it from the inside out.  He leads us, guides us, strengthens us, and empower us to do the works of God.  When we “go” into the mission and purpose He has designed for each us, we need Him fully working on the inside of us in order to do it the way He wants us to.    

Therefore, Jesus “breathed” on them to empower and anoint them.  Most believe this was just a partial filling, or in preparation of, or a symbolic act to what would occur fully and completely at Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4.  Jesus was bestowing on them a great gift that would enable them to work mightily for Him.  Without the Holy Ghost, the task ahead would be fruitless and without power.  Zechariah 4:6 plainly declares, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”  Man can try to operate in his own power but won’t have the effect for God’s kingdom Jesus did.  This mission must be infused with power from on high!

Before His ascension, Jesus spoke to those gathered around Him, and said, “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence,” and “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth,” (Acts 1:5, 8; emphasis mine; compare Luke 24:49).  They needed to be fully immersed in Him, fully filled with His Spirit to operate fully in the ministry He was sending them into.  One cannot work the Spirit’s work without the Spirit.

Later in Acts, when the events of Pentecost were unfolding, Peter, during his sermon, boldly spoke, “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.  Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed for this, which ye now see and hear,” (Acts 2:32-33; emphasis mine).  The very promise of the Holy Ghost which Jesus spoke to them to receive, Peter said, we have received.  They have been empowered by His Spirit and it was shown before all there that day.

John 20:23 “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”

The Gospel message they and us carry is powerful: it’s the Good News that Jesus saves.  Those who believe and accept this message, and are saved, can find joy in knowing they are forgiven, their “sins” are “remitted unto them.”

This was the climax of all Jesus sought to do on the cross: to save mankind from their sins, to restore them back to fellowship with God.  Those anointed, filled, and empowered by the “Holy Ghost” have the privilege to pass on this eternal-life saving message.  They have no power of their own to forgive sins, but they can open the word of life and lead others to the One who can.

At the same time, those who refuse will “retain” their “sins.”  If they refuse to let Jesus wash away the impurities of this world that stains their soul, it will remain with them into all eternity.

Despite popular beliefs, there are NOT many roads to heaven.  Jesus very clearly stated, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me,” (John 14:6).

I cannot overemphasize those two words “NO ONE!”  That means no exceptions.  That means no matter how good one thinks they are, if they have not gone through Jesus, if He has not cleansed them from their sins, they will not walk those dirty feet on His heavenly streets.

The disciples, as well as we, are empowered with the Holy Ghost to get that message across.  We all need to be empowered with His Spirit to do His work!

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 – Jesus Empowers His Followers

Suggested Activities:

Draw the Scene: Jesus Empowers His Followers Draw the Scene

Blank Journal Pages: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages Use these blank Adult and Kid’s journal pages to emphasis or bring out any portion of the lesson for your specific class or audience.

Memory Verse: Jesus Empowers His Followers Memory Verse

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“Blowing Tube Craft” A simple craft to demonstrate breathing or blowing.  Simply roll up a piece of construction paper long ways and tape.  Cut the top and bottom off to make even.  Attach ribbon, tissue paper or I used cut up streamers and tape on the inside of your tube.  Some should be longer than the tube to help with blowing.  Decorate with crayons or stickers. 

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Bubble Play: Hit up your local dollar store or make homemade bubbles for students to demonstrate Jesus breathing on His followers.  What fun!

Sunday School Lesson – “Jesus Prays for His Followers” John 17:6-21

VERSE DISCOVERY: John 17:6-21 (KJV, Public Domain)

Jesus prayed for His followers.  That’s a statement all by itself.  The power of prayer is not just for an individual but to also share and to beseech God on behalf of others.

When Jesus prayed for His disciples it showed a personal love that He possessed for them that worked so closely with Him and followed Him these three years during His public ministry.  It shows the real love and concern the Savior of the world had/has for His followers.  In His prayer, He poured out His plea for protection and help that the work is not hindered, and His disciples would be able to stand strong.

Jesus’ prayer for His disciples has become one of the most loved and quoted prayers in the Bible.  Before His death, He could think of no better way to spend His time than to cover His people in prayer.

“They Have Believed”

John 17:6-8 “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest me; and they have kept thy word.  Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.  For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.”

Going up to verse one of this same chapter, I see the most amazing picture: “Jesus… lifted up his eyes to heaven.”  There stands one of the most beautiful moments in time where we are allowed to see into the depths of Jesus’ prayer.  The King of all of creation is bowed in humility, but with assurance of hope, focuses heaven’s attention on His people.

“I have manifest thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest me.”  Jesus showed them, God.  During His ministry, through His words and His deeds, He showed them, God, as they had never seen or experienced before.  At one point, Jesus explained, “All things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you,” (John 15:15).  He made God known to them.

He showed them the love of God when He healed their sicknesses and diseases and looked on them with compassion because they were as sheep with no shepherd (Matthew 9:35-38).  He showed the mercy of God when He forgave the woman who was caught in adultery and prevented her life from being taken (John 8:1-11).  He showed the peace of God when He stilled the raging storm (Matthew 8:23-27).  He showed the caring nature of God by raising the widow of Nain’s only son from the dead (Luke 7:11-17).  He showed the holiness of God by driving out the moneychangers from the Temple (Matthew 21:12 and John 2:15).  He showed the authority of God by driving out demons and putting the devil in his place (Matthew 4:1-11; Matthew 8:31; Matthew 16:23; Matthew 17:14-18).   “I have manifest thy name unto the men which thou gavest me.”  Jesus showed them what the name of God was all about by showing them what the nature and character of God were all about.

These men who experienced these wonderful things with Jesus; whom God gave to Jesus, were taught the word and “have kept thy word.”  In prayer, Jesus testified to the Father on the faithfulness of His followers.  They hold on to His teachings and treasure and cleave to what has been passed down to them through Jesus.  The psalmist said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee,” (Psalm 119:11).  They “kept thy word!”

“Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.”  The disciples believed with all assurance that everything Jesus has done and taught has been directly related in His relationship to His Father.  At one point during His ministry 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,” (John 12:49; see also John 5:19 & 7:16) and the disciples have the understanding of this.  “Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein,” (Hosea 14:9).  What Jesus taught them “they have received” because they “have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.”

What Jesus lived out before them, and what they heard and received through all of His teachings caused a chain reaction of belief to stir in their souls.  They could’ve done as many others who witnessed His works and sat under His words, which is walk away.  Treating Christ like a spectator sport or just the newest thing to hear about, and then move on back to your normal life and routine.

No, not these faithful followers.  They took in everything and couldn’t help but to believe that Jesus was sent by none other than the Father from above.  They held on to that belief with everything in them (which we will really see play out in the book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament story).

One day, as Jesus was teaching some pretty hard sayings that confused and offended some, many stopped following Him that day and walked away.  Jesus asked His twelve that were with Him, “Will ye also go away?” (John 6:67).  In response to that question, Peter spoke up for these followers of Christ and said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.  And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God,” (John 6:68-69; emphasis mine).  They believed what He taught.  They believed what He lived. And yes, they believed that He was sent from the Father because Peter pointedly stated they were “sure” that He was the Christ, the Son of God.  Although one would betray Him (John 6:70-71), the rest lived their life in faith and belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  Therefore, He prays a special prayer for them.

“I Pray for Them”

John 17:9-12 “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.  And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.  And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee, Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.  While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.”

“I pray for them: I pray not for the world.”  Make no mistake, God loves the entire world: “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).  But here, Jesus’ prayer focused specifically on His followers.  They are special people with a special mission: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light,” (1 Peter 2:9), and they needed the Lord to intercede in prayer on their behalf.

Intercession is going to God on behalf of someone else.  These men would be responsible for carrying the life-saving gospel message to the world.  Some may not receive it as they did.  As a matter of fact, Jesus once told them, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake,” (Matthew 24:9).  The mission would not be easy, and they needed prayer.  Therefore, Jesus interceded!

“I am glorified in them.”  While Jesus had some devoted followers who loved and respected Him, there were many who did not.  Often Jesus was verbally attacked and put down by the leaders and those who couldn’t understand His mission and ministry.  But these men, who have adhered to and kept the word; who latched onto and accepted Him as Teacher and everything, are living in light of what has been revealed to them, and through them Jesus is “glorified.”  Honor is brought to Him through their life and ministry in the kingdom of God.

If a parent is called into a conference regarding their child, there can be a moment of hesitation.  Not knowing what the conference will bring forth the parent will cautiously enter in.  Seated in front of the teacher you begin to hear stories of achievements and accomplishments; tales of good reports and it absolutely blows your mind.  You feel exceptional and elated as a parent because of the good traits and nature exhibited; because of the good works that are being exposed in your child.  Jesus once said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples,” (John 15:8).  In the same way, that child’s actions cause the parents to feel honored and lifted, when we follow Christ with all diligence, we bring glory and honor to His name.

“And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world.”  By the time we reach the second verse of the next chapter in the book of John, Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane and the process of the betrayal of Judas is underway.  The horrific events that would culminate in our ultimate salvation get underway, and physically, Jesus, for a time, is taken from this world, leaving these men whom He’s praying for behind.

Jesus prays, “I come to thee, Holy Father, keep them through thine own name.”  They needed help.  They needed help from heaven.  They needed guidance.  They needed protection.  They needed to be kept or preserved.  The world is harsh, especially against Jesus and His followers.  John 15:18 states, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”  They needed help to maintain a steady course forward; to get through it all; therefore, He called on the “Holy Father” to help “keep” them.

“That they may be one, as we are.”  Adversity and trials people face tend to bring in discord and division.  Jesus once taught, “If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand,” (Mark 3:25).  Though Jesus taught this against the enemy, the same principle applies in every area of life.  Division of any kind makes the foundation weak, and in turn, the building will come crumbling down.

Jesus prayed for oneness for His followers.  Unity mattered to Jesus during His earthly ministry: “For he that is not against us is on our part,” (Mark 9:40); and it matters as the Church continues: Paul prayed, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you;  but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment,” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Jesus knew that if His disciples would ban together as one, they could impact the world in a positive way, leading many to believe in Him.  Vice versa, if divisions and contentions prevailed it would not work to draw people to Himself, to His kingdom message; rather, it would repel.

Even in the Old Testament, David recognized the importance of unity among the brethren.  He wrote, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  It is like precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;  As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore,” (Psalm 133).

This kind of unity that Jesus is praying for can only be accomplished on a spiritual level; one that bonds each disciple together through the Spirit.

Twice in verse 12 Jesus states that He has “kept” them.  As a careful Shepherd of His flock, He states, “None of them is lost.”  While with them He tended His sheep; He cared for them and protected them against the wolves and enemies that sought to ravenously destroy His work in these tender lives.

All “but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.”  All points of ministry that He had to fulfill, according to prophecy or “scripture,” had to be completed; even the parts that would lead to His death.  This included the one who traveled with Him in His band, “the son of perdition,” His betrayer.  “The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born,” (Mark 14:21).

John 17:13-16 “And now come I to thee: and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.  I have given them thy word; and the world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

“That they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”  In a few hours, the world of the disciples would change dramatically.  Their friend, their Teacher, their Savior would be put in chains and arrested, and they the disciples would be scattered leaving Him alone to face His accusers.

Where would the joy be when all seems lost?  When they’re huddled together behind closed doors in fear, would there ever be a time of rejoicing again?  Jesus prepped them prior to this and let them know, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full,” (John 15:11).

The cross and the process of dying on the cross were ugly, but the results that would come from the cross were beautiful and brought joy to the heart of our Savior.  That’s why the Bible encourages us by saying, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2).  So, He prayed that His disciples would “have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”

The ministry would be rough at times, but we see Jesus’ prayer fulfilled after the apostles received a beating from the Sanhedrin.  The Bible tells us, “They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name,” (Acts 5:41).  They carried the joy of Jesus with them through the hardship of the ministry.

“The world hated them.”  Jesus knew the opposition they would feel because he endured the same.  If the Teacher is attacked, the students will be attacked as well, (compare Matthew 10:24-25).

In John 15:19 Jesus stated, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”

There are many animals in the animal kingdom that are very territorial.  If you don’t look like them, act like them, or smell like them, they don’t want you around and you are not accepted into their herd, clan, family, or what have you.

This is true of the world’s system.  In Christ we are made new and not to be conformed to the world (see Romans 12:1-2).  We stand out from the world’s system as disciples of Christ and those of the world do not like that.

Jesus prayed, “Keep them from evil.”  Don’t take them “out of the world;” but keep them!  Their message is lifesaving.  Their lives are testimonies.  Keep them!

John 17:17-19 “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.  As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.  And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”  Previously, Jesus taught, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you,” (John 15:3).  That word “sanctify” is akin to “holy” which means to be separated or set apart.  The psalmist asked, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?” (Psalm 119:9a).  His own answer was, “By taking heed thereto according to thy word,” (Psalm 119:9b).  Following God’s word will help to keep you.

“I have sent them into the world.”  At other points of time in His ministry, Jesus sent the disciples out on mission trips, so to speak.  He sent them to heal, set free, and preach the kingdom of heaven (see Mark 6:7; Matthew 10:1 and Luke 10:1).  Before His ascension, He will again instruct them regarding The Great Commission (see Matthew 28:19-20 and Mark 16:15).  Their lives are not to be filled with mindless idleness.  They are men on a mission.  As the Father has sent the Son to complete His mission on earth, so the Son sends His followers to do the same.

“For their sakes I sanctify myself.”  One day when Jesus came to Nazareth He entered the synagogue and began reading from the book of Isaiah where it said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,” (Luke 4:18).  After reading some more He closed the book and proclaimed, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears,” (Luke 4:21).

Jesus’ purpose has always been to go to the cross and lay down His life.  He didn’t need to be cleansed from sin, but He was set apart with a mission to redeem mankind from their sins; therefore, He said, “I sanctify myself.” 

Prior to this Jesus let it be known regarding His life, “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 10:18).  He was purposely set apart for this and He declared, “I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” 

Jesus set Himself apart as the ultimate sacrifice for His disciples and for us, “that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”

John 17:20-21 “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.  That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”

Jesus’ prayer was not just laden with concern and intercession for His current disciples, but for all of us who have come to Christ throughout the generations that followed.  Jesus prayed for each and every one of us also.  How about that?  Jesus prayed for you, and Jesus prayed for me.  We are not only covered under His blood, but we have been blanketed by His prayers.  How awesome is that!

His prayer, at this point, once again focused on unity, “That they all may be one.”  Paul made this plea, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in loveEndeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, On God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all,” (Ephesians 4:1-6, emphasis mine).

Being “one” is a powerful number!  Oneness in the body of Christ can impact the world like nothing else can and turn this place upside down “that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”

Jesus prayed for His disciples and Jesus prayed for you, too.  We who have believed are covered by the prayers of Christ that we might go out into the world and help others believe also.

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Sunday School Lesson – “Ruth and Naomi” Ruth 1:1-18

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VERSE DISCOVERY: Ruth 1:1-18 (KJV, Public Domain)

Few relationships in life are stronger than a mother and her child.  A mother would rarely have to think twice before making a sacrifice that would better the life of a child.  So, too, would a child be more than willing to go out on a limb to care for and love on their mother.

Their relationship has been bound together from the womb to the point that love and sacrifice spoken between the two is not a foreign language.

But what is this familial attachment didn’t come from womb binding?  People, every day and all over the world, make the heart decision to love another as their own.  They willingly step into that vacant position of another’s life to fill it with the love and support the other so desperately needs. 

The story of Ruth and Naomi is such a relationship.  When she has nothing to gain and everything to lose, Ruth turned her back on everything comfortable and familiar and walked into a life unknown because she had connected herself and committed herself to love and care for a mother who was not her own. 

All decisions have an end result and little did she know it at the time, but the decision that Ruth made on that day would bless her life greatly.

 Elimelech’s Decision

Ruth 1:1-5 “Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Beth-lehem-judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.  And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Beth-lehem-judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.  And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.  And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.  And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.”

The time of the “judges” start when Joshua, Moses’ successor, passes off the scene and continues to the time of Samuel who became the last judge of the people.  This time period is filled with a lot of ups and downs involving Israel’s history.  The downs came by way of the heart of a people that constantly strayed from the will of God (Judges 2:10-12).  People refused to be governed by what was holy and right and decided they would all live according to their own ways and what they thought was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25).

The ups they experienced as a people came when, despite their sinfulness, God raised judges to deliver them out of their circumstances (Judges 2:16).

Storylines like these show mankind’s pull away from the will of God.  But with God being the Author of all, the hardest storylines can have the sweetest of endings, as the story of Ruth will prove.

One hard part of the storyline is dealing with life-changing circumstances.  A “famine” was in the land and caused one man, one family, to make the hard choice to leave everything behind and go where there is the possibility of something better.  One must believe that’s what drove “Elimelech” to uproot his family and to plant them in a strange land such as “Moab.”

The desperation they were facing must have been strong because the children of Israel and the people of Moab don’t exactly have a cordial background toward one another.  Earlier in their history, when the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness from their exodus out of Egypt, they were not well-received by the Moabites.  At one point, there was even an attempt at cursing them (Deuteronomy 23:3-6; compare Numbers 22-24).

Leaving their home, Elimelech and his family settled in this new place “about ten years.”  During that time, Elimelech died (vs.3), leaving Naomi alone with her two sons “Mahlon and Chilion.”

How Elimelech died is not recorded, but what is noted that the two sons of Naomi married women of Moab by the names of “Orpah and Ruth,” which was also a direct violation of the Law (Deuteronomy 23:3).  Time passed, and the sons of “Naomi” also died (vs. 5) and now this family has dwindled down to three lowly widows.

What’s a girl to do?  A question we may flippantly toss about in our day during times of frustration, but it was a real question, following real circumstances, that must be answered if there were any hope of a brighter future coming from this dismal past.

Naomi’s Decision

Ruth 1:6-13 “Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.  Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.  And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.  The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.  And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.  And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?  Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;  Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me.”

So, what’s a girl to do?  Naomi, taking inventory of all that transpired and where she is in life, made the decision that now it was time to return to her own homeland “from the country of Moab” where they have been dwelling these past ten years.  They came to this land during the desperation of a famine, but while in this land she lost even more.  It was time to pick up the pieces and move on.

How she heard it, we don’t know, but Naomi got wind “that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.”  Although famine was often used as judgment from God, we are not sure if that’s the reasoning behind the famine that drove Elimelech to leave.  But, one thing is for sure, it was God who is credited with giving the people bread again.  God “visited” His people.  God ended the famine.  God provided their now plentiful supply.

Therefore, Naomi “arose with her daughters in law” to head back home.  Perhaps there she can find solace among her own people.  Perhaps there help for the hopelessness she faced can be found.  Perhaps there this worst-case scenario can have a happy ending.

Please Note: Let God in on your story.  Let God in your decisions.  Elimelech left his homeland because he thought Moab could answer his woes and provide more.  Naomi left Moab to go back home for the same reasons.  How much could this story have been impacted further if they looked to God first before making any moves?  Thankfully, God is Sovereign, and through His providence, He redeems this story to bring about the most beautiful and timely end that glorifies Him alone.

Rising with her daughters in law to begin her journey, Naomi, thinking about not only her future but the future of these two women she has come to love as her own, suddenly realizes it’s not best for them to follow her into a future unknown.  What positive reception would she receive, if any, after being gone so long, let alone, how would these Moabite women be received?  What of the perilous journey?  Surely, it’s not best to have three unguarded women traveling alone.  Even after considering all of that, what kind of future would they really have if they followed Naomi?

“Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house.”  She gave them a lifeline.  She gave them free course to go back home.  She released them from any obligation they may have felt tied them to this dear woman.  “Each” one had a choice.  “Each” one had the option to move on.  “Each” one, I’m sure she felt a motherly concern for and was seeking their best outcome with this announcement.  They were still young and had many years ahead that could be filled with so much more than what Naomi could offer.  Therefore, she spoke, “The LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.”

Through all of the loss and uncertainty, they have stood by Naomi’s side.  In the camaraderie of widowhood, they have shared in the pain and concern for one another, but now it is time to move on.  Staying as things are now will help none of them, so Naomi spoke again, “The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband.”  A future with her remains in the unknown, but if these daughters would go back to their own land and find “husbands” there they could have “rest” and the security they so needed in those days.  For this reason, she urges them away because she genuinely loves them.

So much so, at the announcement of her decision, “she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.”  This expression shows that their love for one another is as real as if they had come from her own womb.  Although Naomi’s suggestion of this separation was for their good, it was still heart-wrenching and they “wept” because that’s what you do when something is hurting you like it was hurting these women.  To lose so much in such a short amount of time, and now this.  Their sorrow was overwhelming.

Overwhelming or not, the women couldn’t fathom doing anything but staying with Naomi until the end.  They said, “Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.”  They just were not ready to let of this dear woman so easily.  Originally, they both claimed they would give up everything to follow her.  Originally, they were both unwavering in each of their personal commitments to their mother-in-law, but Naomi stepped in and explained in further detail how that decision could affect their future happiness and well-being.

She, herself, is well-advanced in years.  She has no husband of her own any longer.  She has no more “sons”.  She has nothing to offer these women.  No one to step in place for her.  No one to fill the void her sons left in these widowed women (see Deuteronomy 25:5).  As far as she could see, the only way for them to have a happy ending to this sad story was to go back home.

Even if she were to marry tonight and have sons, would it seem reasonable or fair to ask these women to wait until they are of age?  “Would ye tarry for them till they were grown?” she asked.  Would you refrain yourselves from having the love and security of a husband now, and for all those years?

That was a heavy burden to bear, especially for women in that day.  Without a husband or older children to care for them, times were very hard.  For these women, with so much possibility ahead, Naomi couldn’t ask them to stay as they are just for her.  Naomi grieved over her situation and for her daughters’ sake.  She felt as if the “hand of the LORD” was against her.  Little did she know, God’s hand was working something wonderful out for her in this time of despair.

Ruth’s Decision

Ruth 1:14-18 “And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.  And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.  And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:  Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.  When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.”

Weeping, and saying her good-bye’s, “Orpah” headed back to her people and her mother’s house.  She reluctantly agreed with Naomi’s take on their dire circumstance and sought something more for herself by returning to her home.

But Ruth, not seeking to make life easier for herself, could not bear to leave Naomi.  The Bible says, “Ruth clave unto her.”  She would not let her go without her.  She would not detach herself from her.  She loved this woman and refused to walk away from her.

One must ask, what of Ruth’s own mother?  What of her family and the chance to see them all again and to live with them again?  Surely, she could have had a comfortable life by staying in the comfort zone of the familiar.  But, she feels the pull to walk away from it all, declaring, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” 

She stood her ground on her original commitment.  She committed herself to Naomi, her people, and her God for life!  “Nothing,” she declared, “but death part thee and me.”  That, my friend, is genuine love.  Due to her husband’s death, she could have been cleared from all of this, but genuine love and commitment caused her to hold on and go all the way with Naomi and God, wherever that future may lead.

The Bible tells us, “Happy are the people, whose God is the LORD,” (Psalm 144:15b).  The one who willingly attaches themselves to God attaches themselves to the best.  They are truly blessed regardless of everything they have left behind.  Ruth, a faithful woman, refused to have it any other way.

Naomi no longer tried to stop her.  “When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.”  Ruth’s heart and mind were made up and she would not be dissuaded from her choice.  Seeing her commitment and love, not just in words, but in action, moved Naomi’s heart also to allow this beautiful daughter in law to follow her home into the new life that was waiting for them both.

Ruth’s story will continue beyond the verses covered in this lesson.  In the end, her faithfulness to Naomi and God brings about a blessing she could have never possibly foreseen.

Stay faithful, dear friends, for every decision, just like those in this lesson, brings about a certain end result.

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 – Ruth and Naomi

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Ruth and Naomi

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Ruth and Naomi

Blank Journal Page: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Draw the Scene: Ruth and Naomi Draw the Scene

Word Search: Ruth and Naomi Word Search  Answers: Ruth and Naomi Word Search Answers

Crossword: Ruth and Naomi Crossword  Answers: Ruth and Naomi Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Ruth and Naomi Word Scramble  Answers: Ruth and Naomi Word Scramble Answers

Game Ideas for Ruth 1 from Jesus Without Language

Lesson ideas to support your class can be found at Ministry-To-Children

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Abraham’s Faith is Tested” Genesis 22:1-14

VERSE DISCOVERY: Genesis 22:1-14 (KJV, Public Domain)

Even in the hardest and most difficult circumstances we may face, as Abraham finds out in this lesson, God calls us to still be obedient to His calling, walk with Him by faith, and He will provide the end results.

 Abraham’s Test

Genesis 22:1 “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.”

If we take a step back to view the story as a whole, we can gain a better understanding of everything that is transpiring here.  God has already spoken a promise for Abraham to be fulfilled through Sarah.  She was going to be blessed by God to have a son and “she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her,” (Genesis 17:16).

God followed through on His promise.  “And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.  For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him,” (Genesis 21:1-2).  Every wonderful promise God spoke to this elderly couple was fulfilled.  That set things up for the future course of events to play out according to the rest of the promises given to Abraham concerning this child.

But as we approach this lesson there seems to be a proverbial wrench thrown in the midst of the plans.  At a time when Abraham probably thought everything was safe, secured, and at rest in his life, God disrupted his comfort zone and asked Abraham to do the seemingly impossible.

“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham.”  Some time had passed since the birth of their promised son had arrived in their tents.  Abraham’s other son, Ishmael, the one born of the slave Hagar, was sent away by this point in time (Genesis 21:8-10).  The reason being, God declared, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called,” (Genesis 21:12; Romans 9:7).  And, although God would take care of Ishmael (Genesis 21:13-21), he was not included in this promise of God.

With that move of obedience to send his firstborn away, and with the settling of the covenant between himself and Abimelech (Genesis 21:22-34), surely Abraham must have thought that was it.  Perhaps there was a sense of accomplishment that all he had to do now was to sit back, enjoy and raise his son, get on with life, work and live it to its fullest.  No worries.

But God came with a new message that may have shaken any ease Abraham possibly felt.  This message and what it required was meant to put Abraham to the test, or “tempt,” as our lesson translates it.

We must be extremely careful in how we apply that word “tempt” when we’re talking about God.  Often when we are thinking of tempting, we are thinking along the lines of one trying to get another to sin.  This is a far cry from the plan that God is setting up through the line of Abraham that will eventually bring in the Messiah to save mankind.  Furthermore, God can NEVER be accused of tempting someone to sin (see James 1:13-14).  Sin is against the holy nature of God.  God wants people to be where He is, and sin would be a hindrance to that.  If one is drawing away it is of their own doing, not God’s.

Rather, the word “tempt” here means to test or to prove.  How far would Abraham go in obeying God?  Was he all-in?  Was he really with God all the way, no matter what?  Was his heart really tied to God?  Or, did Abraham love something or someone more?

A lot of people can have a bold profession of faith on the outside, but the real teller of what’s inside an individual is when the heart is tested.  And, God wanted to see what was really in Abraham.

Not knowing what was in store, when God called his name, Abraham responded, “Behold, here I am.”  He opened himself up to receive whatever it is God was getting ready to speak.  Not only to hear but with a readiness to obey.  How would his faith in God and obedience to God hold up under the pressure of the next words the Almighty will speak?

Often, one never even knows the fullness of their own heart until it has been pushed and pulled beyond familiar limits.  Only when it is stretched with trials can one tell how their strength and stamina in the Lord holds up.

Genesis 22:2 “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”

God didn’t beat around the bush with His instructions.  He was very specific with what He had asked Abraham to do.

“Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac.”  Many Bible students are very familiar with Abraham’s lineage.  But, as noted earlier, Ishmael was not included in this promise.  At this time, he is off the scene and the focus is on “Isaac, whom thou lovest.”

Love can be a sweet thing, but if it keeps you from the will of God, if it keeps you from being fully devoted to God, it can be a bitter thing because it keeps you tied in an affection other than God.

Promises are wonderful, but they can never replace the relationship with God we are called to have.  God must always come first in all things.  The heart must be measured to see what it is really full of because when we want our cup overflowing, we want it to be overflowing with Him and not things that keep us from Him.  So, the focus of Abraham’s test is something his heart is attached to; something he loves.

Will the thing that he loves stand in the way of complete obedience to God?

Surely at the mention of Isaac, God has Abraham’s undivided attention and with that, He further relays His instructions of what to do.  “Get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering.”  One of the hardest things that another could ask is something that would bring harm to their child.  Mama bears are notoriously known for the protection of their children, and people are too.

God didn’t ask Abraham to take Isaac with him to offer a burnt offering, but He told Abraham to “offer him there for a burnt offering.”  Give up what you are holding dear in your heart, Abraham.  What must’ve been going through his mind at the idea of such a request?  Did he experience that moment of trepidation, those tingling twinges in the stomach that make one’s heart flutter in the wrong way?  Did beads of perspiration gather on his upper lip that couldn’t utter any words at the impact of what was being said?

The Scriptures don’t clue us in on the emotional side of what Abraham maybe was feeling.  But, regardless of how he felt, it tells us of what he did that mattered.

Abraham’s Obedience

Genesis 22:3 “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.”

“Abraham rose up early in the morning,” not to flee and try to get away from this hard thing that God asked him to do like Jonah did (Jonah 1:3), but he “rose up” to move closer in obedience to God; to pursue his faith on a deeper level.  Not knowing completely how the end of this journey would turn out, Abraham set out and prepared to follow God’s leading through the pain of this hard thing.

He gathered all the necessary things to follow through with the “burnt offering.”  He followed his normal routine and preparedness to make a sacrifice to God, right down to making sure he had an adequate “wood” supply needed for the offering.  He didn’t give himself room to negotiate out of what he was asked to do, like, “Well, God, you see, I didn’t bring enough wood or such and such.  I’ll just have to come back another time and try again.”  Nope.  Abraham prepared to fully comply with God’s instructions no matter the cost.  And, this offering would cost.  It would be painful.

Genesis 22:4-5 “Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.  And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”

Traveling three days journey, “on the third day,” coming into the land where God directed him, Abraham “saw the place afar off.”  Moriah was in his view, but obedience was in his heart.  If thoughts plagued him such as, “I can’t go through with this,” he didn’t let on.  He didn’t give them room to plant in his conscience.  He traveled this far to complete the task at hand, and he wouldn’t let how he felt about it disrupt his observance of what God wanted from him.  He was a determined worshiper if I ever saw one.

Resolutely staring at that place, his mind and heart were fixed to go all the way with God; to follow through to the next level of what he needed to do.  With what I am sure was a painstaking move, Abraham instructed the “young men” who accompanied him and Isaac on this journey how this would all go down.

“Abide ye here with the ass.”  They were not invited to join him and Isaac on the next leg of this journey, the actual approaching of and performing the burnt offering.  How would they have responded if they did accompany Abraham all the way?  Would they have stood by and not gotten involved or would they have run interference, preventing Abraham from following through?

When God calls us to a task, some steps of that journey may have to be walked without the assistance of others.  They may not comprehend it being a journey of faith as you do.  And, faith is exactly what Abraham had and what he was going on.  He knew what he was called to do, but his next words tell us he also believed for a better outcome.

“I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”  If suspicions were raised, Abraham’s confidence in what was going to happen must have allayed any concerns.  Abraham’s words relayed nothing but faith in God.

“I and the lad will go… and worship… and come again.”  After they worshiped, Abraham’s expectations were to return with his son.  What went into this sort of faith?  One can only imagine that Abraham held tightly in total belief of all God already promised.  He may have not known the ins and outs of how all this would transpire, but he was in a covenant relationship with the only God who did.  He kept that as a light before him, shining the pathway as he took steps closer to that place of worship.

Going over into the book of Hebrews, we get a peek behind the scenes to some of Abraham’s reasoning and thought processes during this event: “Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence he received him in a figure,” (Hebrews 11:19).  Romans also tells us, “…he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were,” (Romans 4:17).  The process looked like it was going to be painful, but that didn’t diminish Abraham’s faith.  Abraham believed God and the promise He had for him, more than the pain of the process.

Genesis 22:6 “And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.”

A three days journey required the help of the men, but with their command to stay put Abraham and Isaac would literally have to shoulder the weight of the offering.  Each of them would carry, physically and spiritually, the responsibility of this offering.

Physically, “Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son.”  This picture really comes to light in the New Testament where we see Jesus bearing his own cross in the march toward His own place of sacrifice, Calvary (John 19:17).  This, along with other implements necessary for the sacrifice, the “fire” (coals), and the “knife,” the two of them walked “together,” closer to the testing grounds of faith.

The spiritual aspects would be soon in coming as noted in the next few verses.  However heavy their load is now; it would become an extreme weight in just a bit.  Oh, what strength it took to continue that march forward.

Genesis 22:7 “And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

Isaac, presumed to have attended these sacrifices before, and of age enough to know that something important was missing, had a very good question to ask his father regarding this particular offering.  He sees the fire and wood, but “where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” he asked.  I wonder if those young men he left behind were thinking the same thing?  How would they carry out a proper sacrifice without a “lamb?”  There needed to be an animal for a burnt offering (compare Genesis 2:20 and Exodus 29:38).

Genesis 22:8 “And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.”

Abraham’s response was short, but it was full of the faith he carried deep in his heart.  He said, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.”  He doesn’t know how, but Abraham knows “God will provide.”  This trip, this offering, would end according to God’s plan and provision, even if it meant falling along the lines of what was already stated from Hebrews, that Isaac could be raised from the dead.

Abraham’s faith looked beyond what he was experiencing and trusted that “God will provide.”  His hopes, his future, and his son was in the hands of God.

“So they went both of them together.”  Father and son carried on with the journey, trusting God every step of the way, each with the loads they bear.

Genesis 22:9 “And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.”

This and the next verse is where we really start to see the spiritual aspects of the weight they both carried.

As they “came to the place” where the offering was to occur, and with no alternative means in sight, Abraham continued in following all the necessary procedures for the burnt offering.

“Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order.”  He prepared for the sacrifice.  An “altar” was erected, probably of stone.  It is on this he would lay down his only son.

Abraham then “bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.”  Out of all that was happening before him, Isaac appears to let it be so, without giving his father a struggle.  Abraham was one hundred years old when Isaac was born, and even at this point in time, many more years have passed.  It would have been tremendously easy to avert this painful process, but he seems to allow it in submission to his father’s will.  Doesn’t that remind you of Jesus?

Oh, the burden of this spiritual weight these two were bearing.  Isaac in his laying down of self to allow this happen and Abraham in the performing of it as shown in the next verse.

Genesis 22:10 “And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.”

“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac…” (Hebrews 11:17).  Abraham did not withhold his hand from the deed, his heart from following God, nor his son in his willingness to offer him up.  Abraham proceeded to carry out the last detail required for the burnt offering.  He “stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.”  All the way to the very end, he continued to choose God’s will over his own.

PLEASE NOTE: Sacrificing people, humans, children are NEVER something God condones or asks for.  As a matter of fact, it is a pagan practice He strongly stood against and opposes (Leviticus 20:1-5).  Evil practices such as these provoke the LORD to anger (see 2 Kings 17:17; compare Ezekiel 20:26).  God states it is something, “Which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart,” (Jeremiah 7:31).  A human sacrifice was NEVER God’s intention or will.  Just a testing of the human heart, as the next verse proves.

God’s Provision

Genesis 22:11-12 “And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.  And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”

God prevented the burnt offering involving Isaac from going forth.  True to His holy nature, God prohibited such an action from taking place.  When it seemed like the unthinkable was going to occur, God stepped in the path of the process and stayed the hand of Abraham.

Calling his name “out of heaven… Abraham, Abraham,” He spoke, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him.”  Like a rushing waterfall, relief must have washed over this man of faith and his son.

Abraham’s faith was tested and proven to be true, for He said, “Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”  One can speak of their great faith and make a boast in themselves, or they can wholly follow God and let Him proclaim it for you.

What was in Abraham’s heart was evidenced by what he did and was willing to do.  Abraham’s faith was active and alive, and it was for God whom he knew would provide.  God recognized that and commended him for not keeping anything back from Him, including his “son.”  Abraham’s faith caused him to live in total surrender to God.

Genesis 22:13-14 “And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.  And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.”

At that moment, those previous words spoken by this great patriarch, “God will provide,” came to pass.  For there in the “thicket” was a “ram caught… by his horns.”  A substitute for the sacrifice was given.  Oh, what a foretelling of what Christ would do for all mankind as He laid his life down for us.

“And Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.”  Abraham used the offering God provided to bring freedom to his son.  When he previously told the young men, they would both be back, surely Abraham’s steps back to their point of return would be lighter, taking in all that God had done for them.

He was to Abraham, “Jehovah-jireh.”  “God who sees; God who provides.”  That place is renamed by Abraham in recognition of God’s awesome provision there.  Moriah would no longer just be a mount on the map.  Eventually, it will be the place where God would lay down His ultimate provision for humanity in the form of Jesus Christ.  “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).

This “place” would be where Jerusalem is established; where Solomon’s temple is erected (2 Chronicles 3:1); the city where God refused to withhold His only begotten Son for our sins.

Since God has provided for the hardest thing, our salvation, can’t we have faith and trust Him with everything else in our lives?

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 – Abraham’s Faith is Tested

Suggested Activities:

Draw the Scene: Abraham’s Faith is Tested Draw the Scene

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Abraham’s Faith is Tested

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Abraham’s Faith is Tested

Blank Journal Pages: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages (Using the blank journal pages allows you to bring out the points of the lesson that are most important to you and your class.  Also, the blank journal pages and be used to support the “Life” section of the printed lesson.)

Word Search: Abraham’s Faith is Tested Word Search  Answers: Abraham’s Faith is Tested Word Search Answers

Crossword: Abraham’s Faith is Tested Crossword  Answers: Abraham’s Faith is Tested Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Abraham’s Faith is Tested Word Scramble  Answers: Abraham’s Faith is Tested Word Scramble Answers

Other Resources:

“Abraham Sacrifices Isaac”

“Abraham and Isaac Video”

“Abraham and Isaac Altar Craft”

“In God We Trust”

“Abraham and Isaac Flannel Board Figures”

“Abraham Offers Isaac Magic Window”

“Abraham and Isaac Object Lesson/Activities/Coloring Page”

“Abraham and Isaac Coloring Page”

 “Genesis 22 Activities”