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

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

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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

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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

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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 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?

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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

Word Search: Jesus Empowers His Followers Word Search  Answers: Jesus Empowers His Followers Word Search

Crossword: Jesus Empowers His Followers Crossword  Answers: Jesus Empowers His Followers Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Jesus Empowers His Followers Word Scramble  Answers: Jesus Empowers His Followers Word Scramble Answers

How Many Words: Jesus Empowers His Followers How Many Words

“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.

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 Prays for His Followers

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Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Jesus Prays for His Followers

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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

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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”

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Always Pray and Not Faint” Luke 18:1-8

Photo by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 18:1-8 (KJV, Public Domain)

Above the door frame of my front door, there is an elongated plaque mounted.  Inscribed upon it are the words, “Handle with Prayer.”  Every time you come through that door or walk around the living room, this visible reminder stands as a testament of what to do with everything in life: Handle with Prayer.

I believe strongly in prayer and in the power of prayer.  And, I believe it is a part of our relationship with God where we can never stop growing in or do too much.  I believe prayer is a wonderful privilege that God extends to us to come and talk to Him, to lay everything at His feet.  I believe prayer shouldn’t be our last resort when times become difficult.  Rather, it should be the first life-saving ring we grab when we are drowning and hold on to it for dear life.

Is it always easy?  No.  But, then again, neither is life, hence the need for these reminders to take everything to the Lord in prayer before, in the middle of, and after feeling totally overwhelmed by it all.

Prayer is something that should be a natural part of every Christian’s life, but something many use too infrequently or stop when they don’t receive an immediate answer or results they were looking for.  What Jesus teaches us in today’s parable is sometimes you must keep going for it.  We cannot always expect microwave results.  Sometimes we must labor in prayer, and through the power of prayer, repeatedly keep petitioning heaven with those requests.

 Lesson Summary

Luke 18:1-3 “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:  And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.”

The operation or workings of prayer have been a mystery to some through the ages.  For some prayer seems to be some mundane Christian civic duty; a check off list, if you will, of something that needs to be done.  For others, prayer seems to be elusive; difficult to understand the concept of and even more difficult to do.

Good news!  Prayer is not either of those things.  Prayer is something that is given to us as an honor; as a way to reach the heavenly Father personally, one on one.  How awesome is that?  Prayer is as essential to the Christian life as breathing or eating.  It is necessary to stay spiritually nourished in Him.

Jesus, therefore, sets about in this lesson opening to His disciples the importance of not giving up in prayer.  To keep laboring through it and being persistent in our requests to God.

Many today teach that if we keep going to God repeatedly with the same request, then that is a sign that we don’t have the proper faith attached to our request, or that we don’t believe God.  Whereas Jesus teaches us in this lesson, “men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”  And, as we find in our lesson, that also covers when we repeatedly take the same request to Him in prayer.

This was a necessary concept for His disciples to grasp.  Jesus had just finished talking to them about His second coming (Luke 17:20-37).  Which means, there must be a departure from His first coming, or as we know, His death, resurrection, and ascension.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus spoke of and demonstrated a life of prayer.  After His departure, prayer is where the disciples must find strength in the continuing forth of the ministry left for them to fulfill.  If Jesus depended often on prayer, surely the disciples, and we, need it even more.

A Christian’s lifeline is held open with God through prayer.  The opened prayer line fosters that interpersonal relationship between God and man. It is not only life-sustaining, but it’s soul-sustaining keeping that glorious love connection betwixt the two opened and flowing.  That’s what Jesus did, He prayed!

Good, effective prayer is not only active during emergency rescues when we turn to Him as a last resort.  A good and effective prayer life will be used to guide our daily steps, saying, “God, I need You and Your counsel and direction in my life this day!”

A strong life of faith cannot be fostered through just those desperate moment prayer request rescues, but when a life hungers to be connected to its source, it willing seeks out that Source all the more, because anything less than what that true connection offers just won’t do.

Therefore, Jesus Christ Himself said, “men ought always to pray.”  That word “always” tells us there is never a time when it is not a good idea to pray.  Prayer in an appropriate action for the Christian to take at all times, or always.  The Apostle Paul taught, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God,” (Philippians 4:6; emphasis mine).  Simply put, and agreeing with our Lord, prayer is something that we should always do, and it is always a good idea.

Prayer will also help us to “faint not.”  Pray, and don’t give up.  Pray, and don’t let the temporary of this life get the best of you.  Victory is ahead for the ones that “faint not.”

The word “faint” speaks of weariness to the point that it wears you out and you want to let it go.  Many of us have often spoken those same words declaring the tiresomeness, annoying, and weakened state one may be feeling over a situation, work, or even just dealing with people.

But, for Jesus’ disciples, there would be no room in their new mission for weak-willed, fainthearted workers.  The gospel was the mission, and souls would be the target of that mission.  Life and death would hang in the balance of those who received the words these men of God would soon proclaim and spread to all regions of the world.  They had to be strong.  Prayer would help keep them strong; it would help keep them grounded and tied to their Savior in His absence.  Prayer can make the difference to a life well-lived for God, or not.  Foregoing a persistent prayer life was not an option.  With that, Jesus opens this lesson, saying, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”  Never give up on prayer!

Then, as in other parables, Jesus gives them a story of how this may look in their real, everyday lives; an example of how to act out the principle of prayer that Jesus is teaching.  This is a sign of a good teacher, of which we know Jesus is.  He doesn’t just tell people what to do, He shows them how to do it. 

With that, He opens his story talking about a “judge” who dwells in a certain “city.”  This judge is later identified by Jesus as being “unjust” (see verse 6).  

Unjust means he wasn’t right.  To prove that, Jesus even stated of this man he “feared not God, neither regarded man.”  He had an, “I don’t care” attitude.  He did what benefited him, and most likely, his own pockets.  A judge of any people, particularly God’s people, is supposed to operate with the rule of justice as his measuring rod.  He or she is to uphold all that is true and right.  They are to be fair and impartial in their decisions.  This was not the case here.

Many suppose this man may not have been of Jewish descent because he does not have the fear of God in him, which means he doesn’t respect God, he’s not going to uphold God’s law, nor will he take into consideration God’s ways above what he thinks.  At the same time, some of the judges/leaders throughout history who were of God’s people behaved in the same manner.  So, with the information given, we can’t say one way or another.  But what we do know is God expected more from the judges, especially when it came to helping the weak.  In the book of Isaiah, God pronounced a “woe” against unjust judges who, “turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless,” (10:2; read 10:1-4).

Nevertheless, whether he was a Jew or a Gentile, he was in a position to help and to judge fairly those who seek his assistance.  But, as we find out, this is not what he is in the habit of doing.

The next character in this parable is a “widow.”  Widows got a rough deal in those days and without a husband or children to care for them their situations could turn disastrous quickly.  They could become prey for those who would take advantage of them and fall victim to the many schemes of unscrupulous peoples.

God had many stipulations in His Word to guard and benefit the weaker members of society, including the widows.  Deuteronomy 27:19 declares, “Cursed be he that perverteth the judgement of the stranger, fatherless, and widow…”  Exodus 22:22 says, “Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.”  And, in the New Testament, James says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world,” (1:27).

This “widow” came seeking justice.  She came because she had a case and apparently, to say that things weren’t going right, is an understatement.  She had an “adversary” to deal with and unless she was “avenged;” unless someone like this judge would pay attention to her needs and stand up for her cause, she would most likely go under and succumb to the unfair treatment she was receiving.  She had nowhere else to go, and so, she wasn’t going anywhere.  She refused to accept things as they were.

Luke 18:4-5 “And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”

“For a while” the judge refused her or turned away any fair judgment she was searching for.  “For a while” he ignored her pleas and her dire circumstance.  “For a while” he “would not” do anything for her to bring her case to a satisfactory conclusion.  But then there came a time when he was ready to move on her behalf.

There was an “afterward” moment of revelation for this judge.  After he saw her stamina in her “continual coming.”  After he saw that tenacious spirit in her that refused to let her accept anything less than what she deserves, “he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her.”

Not because suddenly he turned his life over to God or got a spiritual revelation.  That wasn’t it.  Not because he suddenly developed a warm spot in his heart for this woman.  That wasn’t it either.  His stance in both of those situations had not changed.  But, because she wouldn’t be stopped, he was going to take up her case and make sure she received justice and possibly those who had done her wrong would be punished, “lest by her continual coming she weary me.”

She wore him out!  She came and invaded his space repeatedly with her pleas.  However many times it took, she was all in.  She came until her request was heard, and her situation was resolved.

How much more will God do for His own who come to Him?

Luke 18:6-8 “And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.  And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?  I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”

God is not an unjust judge, nor can He be worn out through our prayers.  The point of this story is to persist in prayer.  If the unjust judge heard the woman and saw to it she was avenged due to her diligence, what do we think about God?  Is not God so much more!  He said, “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honour him,” (Psalm 91:15).

Therefore, be diligent.  Never let anything hinder one’s pace toward that throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16), especially in those coming days where the need to be fortified in prayer will be all the more prevalent.

Keep coming!  Keep going to God!  Never stop looking to Him as your source for everything in life.  Handle everything with prayer!  The widow refused to be silenced, and don’t you be silenced by those around you or your circumstance either.

God has an opened invitation for His people.  God shall “avenge his own elect” in their time of need, according to His perfect and holy will, and time.  There are days now when God’s people are treated unfairly and seem to have drawn the short end of the stick.  In the last days, the heat will be turned up all the more, but God is not ignorant now or then to what His people face.  He will “avenge!”  Therefore, keep praying! 

Every injustice will be repaid.  Every wrong anything done against us will be turned in the favor of God’s people who don’t give up, who keep going despite what it looks like, who hold on to Him and seek Him no matter how hard it may be sometimes.  Those who persist in prayer will see a righteous end to everything they are facing.

But one must hold on to faith because faith and persistence go hand in hand.  And, faith is what Jesus is questioning at the end of this parable.  He says God will do His part.  When His people “cry day and night unto him,” He hears.  Not only does He hear, but He will do something about it.  He will “avenge” and stand for the justice of His own, and He will do it “speedily” without hesitation.

He may not come when you want Him, but as they say, He’s always right on time.  He may “bear long” with His people (see verses on God’s long-suffering in Ex. 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Isaiah 30:18; Romans 2:4 – just to name a few), but at the right moment, He will answer prayer.

As God is patient and longsuffering and will come at the right time, we too are commanded to be patient, and in that patience, persist.  “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.  Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” (James 5:7-8).

Yes, it will be hard sometimes, but persist.  Yes, it will seem unfair at times, but persevere.  Yes, there will be times when you will be wronged, and it will hurt, but keep going and keep coming to God to seek everything you need.

“Nevertheless,” Jesus asked, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”  Events leading up to that coming day will be times of persecution, to say the least.  How will people respond?  How will the disciples and us who are attached to the Lord through His blood covenant respond?  “Shall he find faith on the earth?”

The widow woman was unrelenting in her pursuit of justice.  Are we just as unrelenting in our faith?  True faith requires commitment, and commitment requires one to persist and not yield to the pressures to give up and throw in the towel.

“Shall he find faith on earth?”  As Jesus was preparing His disciple to put their faith into the perspective of hardships they can and will face due to their allegiance to Him, He is also preparing us.  Our faith and trust in Him is the key that unlocks the door to victory.  “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” (1 John 5:4).  At the same time, our faith and trust in Him should strengthen our stance that we won’t back down from the fight, that we don’t cave due to pressure, and we won’t give in despite the persecutions we may face.  We will keep on going!  We will keep on praying!

In a previous article, I wrote:

“Jesus questions trust.  He questions whether or not anyone will believe in the promise and power of prayer.  He questions if there is real, alive faith working in mankind somewhere.  He questions.

One’s faith lies at the center of this questioning, for if we really believed wholeheartedly, there would be no hindrance to bring every request and problem before God in prayer.  This is what Jesus is getting at.  True faith unencumbered.  True faith that takes the shackles off God’s promises and allows one to run freely forth, believing He hears, He knows, and He will answer.” (Jesus Questions Trust/WordForLifeSays.com)

To be the men prepared for the mission Jesus has in store for these disciples, their lives must measure up and be able to fully answer this question well.  They must be willing to go all in and let nothing stop them from having a powerful prayer life.  And, so must we.

Conclusion

One day Jesus is coming back.  Until then, keep praying and don’t give up!  Your heavenly Father hears every cry uttered from your lips and spoken silently in your heart.  You are loved, my friend.  Let your faith rise in your Savior today and believe in His love and power at work in your life. Keep on keeping on.  Always pray and not faint!

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 – Always Pray and Not Faint

Suggested Activities:

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Always Pray and Not Faint

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Always Pray and Not Faint

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: Always Pray and Not Faint Word Search  Answers: Always Pray and Not Faint Word Search Answers

Crossword: Always Pray and Not Faint Crossword  Answers: Always Pray and Not Faint Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Always Pray and Not Faint Word Scramble  Answers: Always Pray and Not Faint Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: Always Pray and Not Faint Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: Always Pray and Not Faint Memory Verse

How Many Words: Always Pray and Not Faint How Many Words

Prayer Chain Craft: A simple, easy and affordable project to throw together for your students. A prayer chain becomes an easy, take-home reminder of different request students can pray for one another about.  Example below. Enjoy!

My Project 263-001

“Easy Craft Idea”

“Several Printable Activities for the Widow and the Unjust Judge”

“Persistent Prayer”

“The Parable of the Persistent Widow”

“Jesus’ Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust Judge”

“Persistence in Prayer”

 

Sunday School Lesson – “The Holiness of God” Isaiah 6:1-5; 1 Peter 1:15-16

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

VERSE DISCOVERY: Isaiah 6:1-5; 1 Peter 1:15-16 (KJV, Public Domain)

The Bible commands us, “Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy,” (Psalm 99:5).  All throughout the Bible, God’s holiness is prevalent.  When His holiness was disregarded in exchange for a bite of fruit, sin entered in, separation occurred, and mankind lost his place in the sacred garden paradise (Genesis 3).  When God’s holiness was substituted, the people fell into idolatry with a golden calf, people died, names were blotted out of God’s book, sins would be punished, a plague would follow, and God sent an Angel to guide them for He said, “I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way,” (Exodus 33:3; Exodus 32:1-33:3).  Throughout the times of the judges, prophets, all biblical history, and even today, every time the holiness of God has been forsaken, tragedy strikes, and people reap the consequences of their decisions. 

God does have a standard, and holiness is not only who He is, but it is His standard by which all else is measured.  In today’s lesson, we are looking at God’s holiness with a heavenly perspective.  As Isaiah witnessed the events of chapter 6 unfolding before him, he reveals what he experienced when he viewed God’s holiness in the heavens and through that, he prepares us for the extreme holiness of God. 

There, His holiness supersedes everything, and the seraphims cry out, “Holy, Holy, Holy!”  There, when man comes face to face to the untainted character of God, he realizes just how tainted he is.  There, everything falls away in light of His glory.  If we want to live there, we must learn about the true holiness of God, and how we ought to live before Him.

God’s Holiness Shown in Heaven

Isaiah 6:1 “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.”

“I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne.”  I have loved the vision of God sitting on a throne for some time now.  When I pray, I imagine myself coming before our great King, bowing before His presence and humbly lifting my eyes to Him in supplication and petition.  Because of our lack of a monarchy here in the States, we don’t really appreciate what it is to come before royalty in utter humility.  But there, in his vision, Isaiah sees God on a throne where we would expect Him to be, reigning in all sovereignty and power as the ultimate King of all kings, and Lord of all lords.

The irony in Isaiah’s vision is when the earthly king passed off the scene; Isaiah was able to see the one who truly was in charge the whole time.  Nothing is ever predicated on our earthly rulers or those who may be currently in power.  Even if it doesn’t feel like it, God always has His hands at the helm of life and events.

“throne” is a place of rulership, which in turn is a place of judgment.  Israel had been long divided as a nation at this point in history.  The ten kingdoms to the north were referred to as Israel while the two kingdoms to the south were Judah.  God’s people were divided from each other, but they were also divided from God.  The people had drawn away from God through sin and rebellion (See Isaiah 1:2-4).  God was now “sitting” in the seat of judgment.  Proverbs 20:8 tells us, “A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.”

“High and lifted up.”  Where else would He be?  God is exalted above all!  Psalm 108:5 rejoices and says, “Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth.”  God is above!  Not Beneath!  There are many kingdoms established upon this earth, but God supersedes all!  He is “lifted up!”  Every rule of man must bow to the ultimate King.  “The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted,” (Psalm 47:9).  God’s dominion outranks every other power imaginable!

“His train filled the temple.”  Many of us are familiar with the idea of “train” on a bridal gown.  When she walks into the room and goes forth down the aisle everyone focuses on the floor behind her gracious steps to see how long the train is.  The long, flowing fabric embellished with love moves down behind her giving her a royal appearance.  God didn’t need the appearance of royal, He is royal, He is King!  His “train,” the hem of His holy garment, marked His majestic stance above all else and it “filled the temple.”  Can you imagine seeing just this much of the glory of God in heaven, with heavenly hosts gathered all around, and His flowing garment encompassing and enveloping everything?  Amazing!

When God’s presence is in the place, His presence takes completely over the place!  He occupies every crevice of that heavenly “temple.”  There is not a place there where He is not.

Isaiah 6:2 “Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.”

“Above it stood the seraphims.”  As I studied this, I found out that this is the only place in the Bible where the word seraphims appear is here in the book of Isaiah.  This is a unique opportunity that God has given to Isaiah.  For those whom God draws near to Himself and are willing to be a vessel for His use, will experience unique opportunities that are not privileged to everyone else.

“Each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.”  These seraphim dwelt with God in heaven yet felt a need to “cover” themselves.  Here is tells us twice of them being “covered.”  First, with the “face” and then with the “feet.”  Why the need to feel covered?  Perhaps, they know their unworthiness before this Judge who sits on the throne.  Residing in heaven with Him, they don’t only know of His majesty, they know He is completely majestic.  His holiness transcends all others, therefore, they “cover” themselves.  How brash is mankind in thinking that he can approach God in any form or fashion?  When the residences of heaven bow and cover, what more should we do when in His holy presence?

May all men reevaluate their own status before the Lord and give Him the same blessed honor of reverence the seraphim did.  Not necessarily hiding the face (although a little humility can go a long way), but knowing who He is compared to who we are; knowing that we are not worthy except the blood of Christ covered us like those wings of the seraphim, and made us worthy to stand before Him in that coming day.

Isaiah 6:3 “And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”

“And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts.”  I love it when the weather is nice and beautiful, and I can keep my windows open to experience nature.  One of the things I get to experience is the birds calling and communicating with one another.  They are sounding off their beautiful sonnets in hopes of attracting a mate or just relaying and revealing stuff in their own bird language.

The seraphim’s message that was being sounded off to one another, and for us to witness through Isaiah’s vision, is that the holiness of God is like no other.  We cannot, with a human perspective, imagine how far and beyond us His holiness is.  Here “one cried unto another… Holy, holy, holy.”  Anytime Jesus wanted to teach a truth with great emphasis, He would use the phrase “Verily, verily.”  Saying it twice really brought attention to the point He was making.  Here, twice was not good enough when professing the holiness of God.  They announced it three times.  That means we cannot comprehend it!  We just better be ready to stand before it!

“The whole earth is full of his glory.”  Everything on the earth gives God the full glory in the way they were created except for man.  When the trees sway in the wind they glorify God because they are fulfilling their design.  When the squirrel gathers nuts, it does so at the command of God over its life.  All of creation speaks of the glory of God.  We may not hear it audibly, but we can see it all around us.

“The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein,” (Psalm 24:1).  Everything is under God’s ownership, therefore, “Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.  Praise ye the LORD,” (Psalm 150:6).  Jesus, on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, said, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out,” (Luke 19:40).  Why?  Because “the whole earth is full of his glory!”  The magnificence of God can be seen throughout all His creation and if we don’t sing with the seraphim, “Holy, holy, holy,” then the rocks will cry out in our place!

Isaiah 6:4 “And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”

“The posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried.”  A voice so thunderous; a voice so powerful and so awe-strikingly moving to be heard that it caused the doorposts in that temple to shake.  And this is just speaking of the seraphim.  No wonder when the children of Israel, when gathered around Mt. Sinai, they were afraid to hear the voice of God speaking to them.  “And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die,” (Exodus 20:19).  To be in God’s awesome, holy presence is nothing to be played with.  When we enter the place where true holiness resides, we enter in with the humility that He and His tabernacle deserve.

“And the house was filled with smoke.”  There is no mistaking when God is in the building or inhabiting the mountain.  Back to the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai, the Bible says, “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off,” (Exodus 20:18).  What is our response to the true presence of God in our lives?  How do we act when we approach His glory?  The children of Israel “stood afar off” and in our next verse Isaiah was moved with his own unworthiness.  What of our own humility before Him who sits on the throne in pure holiness?

Isaiah 6:5 “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

“Then said I.”  What follows is a personal testimony of a man faced with his own sinfulness.  This is his personal statement of what happened in his own heart when he stood before the presence of the Almighty.  This was his response before the Creator of all the heaven and all the earth.  Think about it, what will you say before Him who knows all and sees all, yet called you before His throne anyway?

“Woe is me!”  Can you sense the agony of sin standing before the Sinless?  It’s as if someone pulled back a curtain to reveal all the evils in human nature and the sight of his own role in humanity made Isaiah say, “Woe!”  When was the last time we “woed” at our own incompleteness without Him and before Him?  Even the best-behaved person on the face of this earth would have to “woe” before the Almighty.  This is all about Him and our complete unworthiness to be before Him.

But thank God for where Christ has placed us now: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore COME BOLDLY UNTO THE THRONE OF GRACE, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:14-16; All Capital Emphasis Mine).

“For I am undone.”  This reminds me of the testimony of some who, in a life-changing moment, saw their life flash before their eyes.  Could this be what Isaiah was experiencing?  Every sin, every wrong, and every transgression comes to the forefront when there’s nothing to hide behind anymore.  Standing before the Revealer of all, he declared, “I am undone.”  

The Bible reminds us, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23).  Standing in His glory, one soon realizes just how “short” from being worthy they truly are.

“Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”  Jesus, in condemning the scribes and Pharisees said it best.  “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man,” (Matthew 15:18).  Using the uncleanness of his own lips and those of people in general, he could see that his life was not ready to stand before the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords.  The uncleanness of the lips is synonymous with the uncleanness of the heart.  Continuing in Matthew, Jesus further said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man…” (15:19-20a).  But Jesus started off His chastisement saying, “Out of the mouth come forth from the heart.”  What is our conversation saying of our hearts?  Do we really understand how “unclean” we are?

“For mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”  It only takes a moment to see the miraculous to change your life forever.  Many people who desire to see God in a face to face encounter on this side of glory don’t know what they ask for.  First of all, no man can see God and live (read Exodus 33:20).  Secondly, sometimes when we read stories in the Bible where people came face to face with just an angel of God, and wind up falling down before them in fear. How much more would they be able to stand before the holiness of the Almighty King?  The majority of us will never experience the sight of Him until we get to heaven, “For we walk by faith, not by sight,” (2 Corinthians 5:7).  OH!  But if we did, I’m sure it would have the same impact on us as it did on Isaiah: “For mine eyes have seen the king, the LORD of hosts” and the awesomeness of that moment would make us tremble before His perfect holiness.

But one day, we are hoping to be there where He is, to see the “King, the LORD of hosts” for ourselves.  Anything or anyone that does not fall in line with God’s holiness will not have that privilege.  “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life,” (Revelation 21:27).

God’s Holiness is to Show in Us

1 Peter 1:15-16 “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

Reading of all Isaiah experienced and what he saw of God’s holiness in the heavens, and knowing that one day we too will come face to face with the extreme holiness of God, how should we then live?  We must live lives that represent the holiness of the “holy” God we serve.

Hebrews 12:14 tells us, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (emphasis mine).  God is looking for a sanctified life.  When we receive His Spirit, the sanctification process has started to turn our lives around getting us ready for a heaven-bound journey.  A lot of people have grown unaccustomed to associating our walk of faith with a walk of sanctification.  We talk a lot about faith, but little is covered anymore about being holy.  But a sanctified people are what we are called to be, and I must ask, is there a fervency for holiness still present in the modern church?

God is still calling for holiness, and holiness is still right!  During the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He taught, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in there at: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it,” (Matthew 7:13-14).  Holiness is the only way through that gate!

God wants hearts that are in tune with His.  God wants people who are in the world but not of the world (John 17:16).  God our Father is holy, and His children, who are us, are to be holy demonstrators of His character. Peter said in today’s lesson, it has already been “written” in the Old Testament, and nothing has changed in the New Testament: “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16; compare Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, 26).  Our lives are to be lives of separateness and devotion to God alone, instilled with His Spirit to live differently than the rest of the world.

Peter continues to describe us as “an holy priesthood” and “an holy nation” (1Peter 2:5, 9).  The common denominator is holiness!

Holiness is a prerequisite for access to our heavenly Father.  Sin will hinder a full and beautiful relationship with God.  Isaiah 59:2 reiterates this truth, saying, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”  Therefore, holiness must be the mark that the Christian aims for in his/her daily life in order to see the Lord at the end of this journey.

And, it must not just be present in some areas of our lives; rather, “be ye holy in all manner of conversation”; in every area of life.  A life submitted to and in complete devotion of the Father who has saved them.  An uncompromising life, that doesn’t pat a sin on the back here and condemns something different over there.

All sin is sin, and every area of our lives must be lived in submission to being “holy.”  If we are going to be identified as His children, then we must be identified as He is, and that is “holy!”  “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

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 Holiness of God

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – The Holiness of God

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – The Holiness of God

Draw the Scene: The Holiness of God Draw the Scene

“Holy, Holy, Holy Glitter Sheet Activity”: Another activity that can be done is this “Holy Holy Holy” Glitter sheet.  Use the sheet as is to color or do as I did.  I colored and cut out the words and glued them on blue construction paper (sky).  Then, using a white crayon you can make clouds.  Finally, since it is a holy place where these words are being uttered, I used gold glitter to bring out the words “Holy, Holy, Holy!”  Enjoy!  PDF: Holy coloring sheet

 

Word Search: The Holiness of God Word Search  Answers: The Holiness of God Word Search Answers

Crossword: The Holiness of God Crossword  Answers: The Holiness of God Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: The Holiness of God Word Scramble  Answers: The Holiness of God Word Scramble Answers

“Sin Revealed” from Kidssundayschool.com (Great object lesson to go with being “undone” and “unclean lips” because it shows how our sin can’t hide before God).

“Sanctified Lips” from Calvarycurriculum.com

“Heaven is Awesome”

“Heaven Lesson Bible Plan w/ tons of activities and crafts”

“Molded to be Holy” Object lesson from Childrensministry.com

“Heaven” Ideas/Lesson from Ministry to Children

Sunday School Lesson – “Grafted in by Faith” Romans 11:11-24

Image by Helger11 from Pixabay

VERSE DISCOVERY: Romans 11:11-24 (KJV, Public Domain)

The Jews of the Apostle Paul’s day struggled first with accepting God’s plan of salvation by faith.  Rather, in their own righteousness, relied more on the works of the law (Romans 9:31-33).  Romans 10:4 declares, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

Another thing they struggled in was the acceptance of the Gentiles into God’s spiritual family.  Rather than depend on the law, as the Jews previously had done, and the works of the law, they, the Gentiles “have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith,” (Romans 9:30).  Although through the centuries the prophets foretold, “I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved,” (Romans 9:25; see also verse 26).

Paul continued to teach when it comes to accepting Christ by faith, “There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” (Romans 10:12-13; emphasis mine).

Does this mean that God has cast away His chosen people?  (Romans 11:1).  Absolutely not!  But, by God’s grace, there is still a remnant that will worship Him through faith (Romans 11:1-6).  While some remained spiritually blind, God was using this as an opportunity to bring salvation to the Gentiles.

Neither group had a reason for division amongst them.  God loves the Jews and the Gentiles alike and wants all to be saved if they believe.

Lesson Summary

 Romans 11:11 “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”

“Have they stumbled that they should fall?”  Referring to the unbelief of those early Jews and their rejection of Christ as the Messiah, as God’s plan of salvation – does this stumbling at this divine truth mean that this is the end for them?  Are they now a people that are done away with because they have no more purpose in God’s plan?  Has their fallen status become who they are to be permanently identified as?

“God forbid.”  Absolutely not!  God still has a divine plan and purpose in effect for His people Israel.  They may have initially rejected the Christ and transgressed against Him through their unbelief, but God was not completely done with them.

“But rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”  As noted in last week’s lesson, salvation was never supposed to be exclusive.  God’s chosen people were designed to be carriers of His truth and His revelation to the world – to be a witness to the world of His desired relationship with all mankind.

Due to their current unbelieving status, a doorway would now be opened for the “Gentiles” to have a shot at receiving “salvation.”  Acts 13 tells us what occurred when Paul and Barnabas were blasphemed against and contradicted by the Jews: “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing you put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles,” (vs. 46).  Thus, the preaching of the gospel was on the move toward the Gentiles.

Does this mean all Gentiles will be saved at the Jews rejection of the Christ?  Again, absolutely not!  Regardless of ethnic background or regional heritage, all must come to Him in and through faith – Jew and Gentile alike.

While the Jews rejection of Christ opened a door of acceptance to the Gentiles, the Gentiles too would become a tool to touch the heart of the Jews, “to provoke them to jealousy.”  Deuteronomy 32:21 foretold, “They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger . . . I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation,” (see also Romans 10:19).

Romans 11:12 “Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?”

If through their “fall” and “diminishing” the “world/Gentiles” become “rich” (spiritually so at the accepting of the rich gospel of Christ through faith), “how much more their fullness?”  Those who were not formerly considered to be blessed are now presented with the opportunity to be spiritually blessed.  Israel’s loss is the world’s gain (as some would note it today).

With the offering of Christ and all the blessings a child of God would receive now available to them – greater would be the spiritual riches when the hearts of the Jews are stirred toward the realm of faith in Christ Jesus, bringing them to their “fullness.”

Just imagine and compare the difference it would make.  How much more would their own faith (speaking of those future Jews), touch and turn others, causing a global domino effect of God’s blessings and the turning of people in faith as it ripples through this world?

It would be simply amazing.

Romans 11:13-14 “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

Lest they become haughty in their thinking, Paul directs his next line of thought directly to the Gentiles.  Careful heed should be taken given their now privileged position in Christ.  Paul, “the apostle of the Gentiles,” (compare to Acts 9:15), acting with authority to his calling, says, “I magnify my office.”

The Apostle Paul was the founding father of many churches located in Gentile nations.  His reputation of authority preceded him to the Roman church as well.  As their spiritual leader, he had no qualms in letting them know, “If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

Paul may have been an apostle to the Gentiles, but he still had a heart for his own kinsmen.  In Romans 9 he carried, “great heaviness and continual sorrow” (vs. 2) in his heart for his fellow flesh that rejected Christ.  To the point where he stated, “I wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,” (vs. 3).

His love for his own people never waned though his mission took him to others.  So, if there is some way for their hearts to be pricked to receive the gospel; to open themselves up to God’s truth of salvation through all of this – then, so be it.  He would be enamored with the idea.  To really know his feelings toward his people, think of your own family and the unsaved in it.  What if the similar would happen to cause them to accept Christ?  Wouldn’t you be overjoyed to see them come to salvation?  I would!

So, it is Paul’s hope that the Gentiles turning in faith would provoke his Jewish brethren that as many as will may be saved and brought back from the dead spiritually.  For another analogy, picture if you will in your mind an EMT bringing to recovery a loved one battled in a life or death crisis.  There is rejoicing.  There is joy over the recovering of said loved one.  The same with Paul.

As the Gentiles gained from their loss, oh what it would be if the provocation of such would awaken those Jewish sleeping souls to rise up and grab hold of Jesus for themselves, and “save some of them.”

Awesome!

Romans 11:15-21 “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?  For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.  And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.  Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.  Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:  For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.”

If their rejection and unbelief have given place for the door of the gospel to be opened to the rest of the world, how much more “shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?”  A national prodigal son story of restoration, if you will.  A people literally brought back to life, being spiritually resuscitated and restored once again.

Therefore, the one who has this privilege bestowed upon them, the Gentiles, should not “boast.”  It’s not of their own goodness (far from it – but, a work of grace) that caused God’s mercy to extend salvation beyond the spiritual borders of His chosen people.  Their disobedience [God’s chosen] made a way for the measure of reconciliation, through Christ, to be made available to all who believe.

Would it not benefit the Gentiles to remember from where they came; their “parent body” of faith to be saved, if you will?  “For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the braches.”

In speaking of the “firstfruit” Paul breaks down for them, the Gentiles, the importance of their faith and what role the Jews played in that.  In Numbers 15:20-21 we learn the importance of the word firstfruit where they would offer up in appreciation “the first of your dough.”  Not until that first portion was offered was it permissible to eat the rest.

Given that the first portion to be offered was considered “holy” (set apart and consecrated), the “lump,” the source of the original would also have to be viewed as holy once it was consecrated.  Thus, making those first-century Christians, who were Jews by birth, vital in the foundation of their faith as well.

“And if the root be holy, so are the branches.”  The root system of any tree supports the branches.  Whatever the root is or has is transferred to the branches that grow from it.

There are varying opinions on which the “root” here is referring.  Some cite the patriarchs, some says God, and some refer this verse to the first Jewish Christians.  I won’t argue either point here.  Regardless of whom it is actually speaking of the main point for the Gentiles believers (whom Paul is currently speaking to) is to realize they and their newfound faith are grounded in the “holy” which came before them.  Again, there was no need to be boastful and haughty in their current status in Christ.  Those that were before them are foundational in their faith now.

Therefore, they are instructed not to lift themselves up with a prideful spirit, as if they are now superior to those Jews who refused to believe.  For God can, at any moment, cut them off as well.  “For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.”

Some of those natural branches were disobedient in their unbelief to believe in the fulfilled promise of Christ.  Thus, they were “broken off.”  A great spiritual pruning had taken place and “some,” not all, of those branches that lack to produce spiritual fruit, were done away with while others were “graffed” in.

This does not mean that God has done away with the Jews as a whole (referring back to the introduction and beginning of the lesson).  Only some were broken off showing God still has a remnant of those that believe.  But the unbelieving Jews were taken out and believing Gentiles, “wild olive tree,” was put in to grow “among them” and “with them partakest of the root and the fatness of the olive tree.”  Tied into the natural tree, as the farmer of an orchard would add branches through the process of grafting, they too would produce spiritual fruit.

The Gentiles believers were always to remember “thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.”  The ones that were broken off were done so because of “unbelief.”  Those who are now grafted in are done so by faith.  Ethnicity didn’t cause the loss of the promise – unbelief did.  Ethnicity didn’t compel the gain of the promise – faith did.  Everything hinges on whether one believes or not.

Living a life of faith through Jesus Christ will gain one a future with God.  Hebrews 11:6 tells us beyond a shadow of a doubt that you cannot please God without faith.  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.  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.

Obtaining the promise of being grafted in is directly related to one’s “faith.”  A mind of humility and godly “fear” is to be had as opposed to boastfulness when one realizes the goodness of God.

Romans 11:22-24 “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.  And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.  For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?”

God’s “goodness” has now allowed access to those who formerly had none, and in His “severity” He has cut off some of those who were formerly allowed access from the promise.

Again, everything hinges on belief and unbelief.  Those who believe will experience the goodness of God and those who refuse Him, His severity.

The Bible says, “Good and upright is the LORD,” (Psalm 25:8).  It tells us, “For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations,” (Psalm 100:5).  Over and over again we read of His goodness.  God wants to bless people.  He wants to see them thrive in the spirit, drawing nearer and nearer to Him.  Only the feet of faith will walk one there.

Unbelief is delusional and a robber of the goodness of God.  It separates one from where He wants them to be and through their lack of faith, they experience His severity (cut off).

How much are people missing out due to their lack of faith?  Apparently, a lot.  An eternal promise lies in the balance and faith is the key to enter.  “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” (1 John 5:4; emphasis mine).

“If thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.”  Initial faith is not enough.  One must continue in the faith to continue experiencing the goodness of God or else they too would be subject to losing out on the promise; being “cut off.”

The warning for the Gentile Christians is to take heed the path they walk lest they end up in the same destination as those Jewish people whose rejection of Christ led them away from the promise.  “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away . . .” (John 15:2) – Jew or Gentile.

“God is able to graff them in again.”  If the Jewish heart that was once unbelieving has now turned to Him in faith, God is able to restore that branch back to the tree.  Their relationship with God can be healed.  God has not totally washed His hands of His chosen people, as some believe.  Any heart that turns to Him, Jews included, God, can bring back into His promise.  God specializes in restoration, healing relationships with Him “again.”

“For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?”  By nature’s law one of one’s “own” is more easily and readily grafted in than a wild one, or one who doesn’t originally belong.

Some packs of animals carry a specific scent for their particular pack.  One who does not bear the same scent would have a harder time being accepted into the pack.  We see a similar example in the human body with organ transplants.  It is so wonderful that God has allowed science to take on such a procedure, but parts that are trying to be incorporated in could suffer rejection because they were not naturally a part of that particular body.

If Gentiles, who were not of the natural olive tree (who weren’t originally God’s chosen people; who didn’t have God’s ordinances and such) can be grafted in – how much easier for the Jews who hearts have been turned to a life of faith (those who bore the markings of the natural)?

Conclusion

God welcomes all to partake of His promises – Jew and Gentile alike.  He can graft any believing heart into the family of God when they operate with a heart of faith.

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 – Grafted in by Faith

Suggested Activities:

“How to Graft a Fruit Tree Video”

Adult Journal Page:  Adult Journal Page – Grafted in by Faith

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Grafted in by Faith

Word Search: Grafted in by Faith Word Seach Answers: Grafted in by Faith Word Search Answers

Crossword: Grafted in by Faith Crossword Answers: Grafted in by Faith Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Grafted in by Faith Word Scramble Answers: Grafted in by Faith Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: Grafted in by Faith Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: Grafted in by Faith Memory Verse

How Many Words: Grafted in by Faith How Many Words

From previous lessons, but can be applied here as being grafted in as a child of God or in the family of God:

“I Am a Child of Faith” Necklace Craft: I Am a Child of Faith Necklace Craft (Use this PDF for accurate printing) Simply have the student draw their portrait on the necklace, bead any way they want and there you go.  Enjoy!

Coloring Sheet: Not the Same but Loved by God Coloring Sheet

“The Family of God Activities” from Sermons4kids.com(Including group activities such as “Available Grace to All” and “Child of God Headband.”)  Enjoy!

“Adopted into God’s family” from Ministry-To-Children