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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acrostic Poem: He is Risen Acrostic

Draw the Scene:  The Resurrection Message Draw the Scene

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

Coloring Page: The Ressurection Message Coloring Sheet

Activity Page:  The Resurrection Message Activity Page

Memory Verse:  The Resurrection Message Memory Verse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hour has Come

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, I believe this hour is very pivotal.

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

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

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

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

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

Do This in Remembrance of Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Betrayer is With Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Jesus’ Last Passover with His Disciples

Kid’s Journal Page:  Kid’s Journal Page – Jesus’ Last Passover with His Disciples

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

Word Search: Jesus’ Last Passover with His Disciples Word Search  Answers: Jesus’ Last Passover with His Disciples Word Search Answers

Crossword:  Jesus’ Last Passover with His Disciples Crossword  Answers: Jesus’ Last Passover with His Disciples Crossword Answers

Word Scramble:  Jesus’ Last Passover with His Disciples Word Scramble  Answers: Jesus’ Last Passover with His Disciples Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene:  Jesus’ Last Passover with His Disciples Draw the Scene

Memory Verse:  Jesus’ Last Passover with His Disciples Memory Verse

Activity Sheet:  The Last Supper Activity Sheet

Cup Craft: Jesus’ Last Passover with His Disciples Cup Craft

Copyright © Word For Life Says.com (Sharing any posts or lessons can only be done through the share buttons provided on this site from the original posts, lessons, and articles only. You can reblog from the original posts only using the reblog button provided, or share using the share buttons provided from these social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, etc., and they must be shared from the original posts only. All other repostings are prohibited. Posts and other items of interest found on this site MAY NOT BE COPIED AND PASTED, downloaded, uploaded, etc to another website or entity not listed (physical or electronic).  See COPYRIGHT PAGE for more details.

Sunday School Lesson – “Count it All Joy!” James 1:1-12

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

What do you do when life doesn’t seem to want to play fair?  When all the boxes don’t check off in all the right places and everything seems out of whack – what do you do?

For some, remaining optimistic during trials is harder than others.  Firstly, every trial that every individual person deals with is not the same.  Some things that may be troubling to one, but in reality, is only a minor inconvenience and annoyance, to others, they may be battling tooth and nail to keep their head above the water of the adversity they are facing.

Then, we have each person’s natural dispositions on how they specifically handle tumultuous events.  Where one sees the dark clouds others can readily point out the silver lining.

For those whom James was addressing in his letter, he knew they were being hounded by real troubles and not just a matter of inconvenience.  He knew of the hardships and oppression they were experiencing.  Yet, through it all, he wanted these believers to focus on the positive fruit all the things they were experiencing in their life could produce.

Let Patience Have Her Perfect Work

James 1:1-4 “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.  My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

This “James”, who addresses himself as “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” is supposed by many to be the actual brother of our Lord Jesus Christ.  While Jesus was going about fulfilling His earthly ministry, his brothers were not part of those who supported that ministry (see John 7:3-5).  As a matter of fact, it is supposed that it wasn’t until after he had seen the risen Lord for himself, that James, the natural, half-brother of Jesus Christ, believed and became a follower and a leader in the early church (1 Corinthians 15:7; Acts 1:14).

Which is why he is writing this letter “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.”  As a leader in the early church (Galatians 2:9; Acts 15:13-22), his care for members of the body of Christ is evident in the time and care he takes to write to them about their personal growth in the Lord, the discipline of the faith, conducting personal behaviors pleasing to the Lord, and yes, remaining hopeful in the midst of it all.

In this section of Scripture, James didn’t downplay the suffering some were experiencing.  Rather, he encouraged them to remain focused on what truly matters.  Therefore, he begins this letter by admonishing then to “count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.”

“Count it all joy” – when you really think about that statement, it’s naturally a very difficult thing to do.  It’s very similar to the Apostle Paul’s teaching to which he says, “In every thing give thanks…” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Those words “all” and “every thing” can encompass a great many circumstances.  Circumstances that wouldn’t need encouragement to remain joyful and thankful if they weren’t adverse.  Nobody needs to be encouraged to be happy when they are already happy.  It’s when things become hard and unbearable that leaders such as James try to cheer them on to see that silver lining in a dark cloud.

James goes on to say, “Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations,” or, various trials.  You know what, I have given birth to four different children and each labor experience was different.  Some were scary, some were painful, some were eventful, while others were uneventful.  No two were alike.  Each one was different.  During one, I thought I was going to lose that baby, and during one, my own health was compromised.

But life is like that.  The degrees and variables surrounding each hardship are unique to that particular time, place, situation, and person.  They all don’t come packed in the same neat packaging, for if they did, we could really prepare our actions and reactions to each case.  Trials come looking and feeling many ways and sometimes it’s hard getting a grip on it all and adjusting one’s mindset to see the positive.

But James didn’t focus on the many things people see, feel, and experience now.  He focused on the many things it would produce.

First, he said, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”  If you have ever exercised with resistance bands, you know how difficult it can be.  You are using your own body’s strength, be it little or big, to purposely add pressure and pull to an already hard work out.

The “trying of our faith” is working for us, for our good, even though it seems to be opposing us.  That which is hard to deal with is actually teaching us in a way that an easy path, with no resistance, ever could.  It is producing in us virtues and spiritual fruit (Romans 5:3-6) that really will have no way of growing in us if it were not for the adverse circumstances we become occasionally planted in.

Here, in James’ teaching, he is showing them the flip side of what they are feeling.  He’s showing them that what they are going through, those things that feel like they are wearing their faith down, is actually producing “patience” in them.  This patience is all about endurance.  One will never know how to go through hardships and stand if they have never been given the opportunity to exercise that faith and endure.

We read about Bible characters and their stories, and we think, oh, put me in the lion’s den, or let me at Goliath, or some other situation alike, and I know what to do because the Bible tells us what they did.  When reading the lives in these stories, we must not become desensitized to the power and faith it took for an individual to keep remaining true to their faith despite a death threat or to face a monster of a man on the battlefield.  Until we have our own Nebuchadnezzar to stand before with the resolve to refuse to bow and worship a false image, no matter how hot the situation was getting, we will never know what it’s like to endure trials such as these that build our faith unless we go through it for ourselves.

“But let patience have her perfect work.”  If you want to grow and produce things conducive to strong faith, then let that same patience work it out in you.  Every Christian should strive for mature, tested, and tried fruit of these spiritual disciplines to be produced in their life.

Every day we should want to do better and to be better, but a lot of that will never come to be unless we work at letting “patience have her perfect work.”  Then, will we grow, being “perfect and entire, wanting nothing” in the development of our Christian character, now being ripe fruit, fit for the Master’s use.

Ask in Faith and Don’t Waver

James 1:5-8 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

“Faith” is a key factor in this opening of James’ letter.  In the trying and in the producing, faith comes to the forefront of a must-have list.

“Wisdom” is needed in so many areas of life.  Proper wisdom is needed all the more when facing opposition.  Wisdom is one of the best tools one should have in their arsenal when navigating or combatting trying times.

Previously I wrote,

“Strength and weapons are carnal devices that depend on fleshly know-how and might.  Often these are the first resources that man runs to in times of difficulty and adversity.  Wisdom is dependent upon God.  ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction,’ Proverbs 1:7.

Would it not be more prudent in the days of trials to follow the path of wisdom whose Author is God?” (Wisdom is Better/Word for Life Says).

James said, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.”  It is very possible to be in the midst of contentions and not know what to do or how to respond.  God has opened Himself up to us to receive what we need to succeed in this Christian journey.  The Apostle Peter, one of Jesus’ original disciples, wrote, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness…” (2 Peter 1:3; emphasis mine) and that includes wisdom.  God gives it to the one who asks, but when he or she asks, it must be done in “faith.”

Faith supports faith.  The one here, who is in a trial and dealing with contentions because of their faith, are to ask in faith, of the Father, for the proper wisdom of how to continue forward in their faith while going through.

Steadfast, believing faith is necessary for every aspect of our Christian walk.  To “waver” in that is to sway in that belief and in the one who is the Author of that belief.

James gives the picture of this one being “like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”  I love the ocean.  I love the beach.  When vacationing, it’s one of my favorite places to visit.  One of the things I most enjoy while there is standing on the shoreline and watching the waves come in and go out.  The ebb and flow of the waters are always moving, never still, and never steady.

While beautiful to look at in nature, in our Christian character that’s not what we’re looking for.  We want to be rooted and grounded in what we believe and whom we believe – that He is able to answer our prayers and give us the wisdom we need.  To shun that, through not asking in faith, is to shun the benefits one would have received otherwise.

James warns, “For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.”  Too many are living the faith they profess to have without living in complete faith and assurance in the “Lord.”  It may be possible for people to live in compliance with regulations of the faith and have the spirit of faith missing.

This one has a divided mindset.  James considers them to be a “double minded man” who is “unstable in all his ways.”  If he or she can’t get off the fence here, before the very foundation of their faith, when praying and asking of God, other areas of life are guaranteed to be constantly shifting and fluctuating as well, being blown about in uncertainty.

But for the one, who in complete faith, is asking God for wisdom, God will give it “liberally” and “it shall be given him.”  Wow!  What a promise!

Endure, There is an Eternal Reward

James 1:9-12 “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.  For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.  Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”

Rich or poor, it doesn’t matter.  Everyone will experience trials.  And, everyone can be taught valuable lessons through those trials.  All social classes and backgrounds can find joy during times of adversity.

How is that?

James explains it like this.  For the poor, or him of “low degree,” such a one can “rejoice in that he is exalted.”  This one’s “right now status” does not determine their joy in life.

It is easy to see the ones without… without as much as others, without as many financial resources, without proper education, and anything else this world stores up as markers for success and happiness.

This one may think he is justified in being sullen, withdrawn, and living a pity-party lifestyle that no one wants to attend.  Contrarily, James points out the opposite.  Regardless of what he has or didn’t have; no matter how others view his lowliness, or even how he views himself, James declares that joy and rejoicing should still be found in his heart because of the God whom he has placed his trust in, and not his haves and have nots.

In this, too, he can “rejoice.”  When it’s all said and done, when he parts from this world, it is God who will “exalt” him to the things he has never seen with human eyes or even imagined (compare 1 Corinthians 2:9).  He may not have as much as another, but in his trials and temptations, he can still count it all joy!

When Jesus was teaching the Beatitudes, at the end of all those “blessed are” statements that would point out circumstances in which one wouldn’t normally find joy in, Jesus speaks these words: “Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven,” (Matthew 5:12).  His comments were spoken in relation to being persecuted, something James’ readers are all too familiar with, yet, what He points out is that even in that hardship, Jesus Himself said, “Rejoice!”

And, He wasn’t teaching anything contrary to what He Himself was not willing to do.  Hebrews 12:2 tells us, “…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…”

As those who are linked to Him in faith, James said every believer can count it all joy no matter their privileged or underprivileged status and life.

And the “rich” are to remember, in humility, that though they may have a lot right now, their days are moving just as fast as anyone else’s in this lifespan each of us has been allotted.  Life is a vapor, here today, gone tomorrow (James 4:14).

“As the flower of the grass he shall pass away.”  Riches cannot increase his time or secure him a better end.  He, too, must depend on the same salvation, the same saving grace, as one who may be without and lacking.  The businesses, the homes, the money – nothing he has accumulated in this life will account for anything in eternity.  Outside of Christ, low or high, rich or poor, we are all nothing.

So, when this one faces trials and temptations, he too can count it all joy for he is made keenly aware that his days and life here are very brief.  That awareness brings him “low”; it centers and focuses him on what matters the most.

Both types of trials and temptations are a gift for they both, whether for the rich or poor, should keep us before the Lord in humility and dependence.  Not a one has a reason to glory in his own flesh or circumstances.  Before God, it’s the heart of the man that matters the most.  Not what he has or doesn’t have.

James adds, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation.”  Counting it all joy is not because we have avoided temptations and trials from ever happening to us.  Counting it all joy for the blessedness that is ours for enduring the times of testing they brought.

Even Jesus was tried, tested, and tempted.  Hebrews reminds us again, “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,” (Hebrews 4:15).

Endure!

Let patience have her perfect work!  Because in the end, when the trials and trying times are all over with, that one that was “tried” and endured with faith intact through it – that one “shall receive the crown of life.”

Now, that’s real success.  That’s the real goal.  That’s the real reason to be happy when troubles just won’t seem to let up.

At one point or another, and many times in between, we are all going to be touched by the finger of adversity.  But, as the Word of God declares, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved,” (Matthew 24:13).

Don’t lose your joy!  There is a “crown of life” waiting for you with your name on it.  We are going through and enduring because there is a prize laid up for us at the end of this race (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

Your running is not in vain.  Your joy is not in vain.  The “Lord” has “promised” this wonderful gift “to them that love him.”

it is spoken.  It is written.  It is ours if we remain in our holy joy and keep pushing for it and not giving up.

The opposite of the joy we are called to have is words like misery, sadness, and the like.  When one keeps swimming in the pools of these waters, they will soon feel overcome by the displeasure found there, let go of their grip, and drown.

Life may not be perfect but maintaining your spiritual joy will keep you buoyant in the murkiest of waters.

So, count it all joy!

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 – Count it All Joy

Suggested Activities:

Lesson Lead In/Happy or Sad Activity: Print out one happy face and one sad face (you can just do one set for the teacher or multiple sets so that each student can have their own). Attach the faces to craft sticks. Prepare a list of things that might make one happy or sad (finding money, losing a tooth, receiving an unexpected gift, losing a puppy, etc.). Ask the class, using the faces, to show how each thing listed would make them feel, and why? Then ask, Is it possible to feel joy even in sad times? (Give them space to answer.)

Use this as a lead in to the lesson. Say, James wrote to people during a very hard time in life and one of the things he did was encouraged them to count it all joy. This concept is difficult for some adults to grasp, let alone children. Let them know a Christian’s joy is never based on the goodness of their circumstances. Rather, their joy is based on the goodness of God, who will give us the wisdom we need to make it through hard times.

Frown Upside Down Craft: Make your own frowning face that can be turned upside down to make a smiling face. If you don’t know how to do this, search the internet for great examples. Use this as a supplement to the lesson Count it All Joy.

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Count it All Joy

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Count it All Joy

Blank Journal Pages: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages (These pages are great to use with the other journaling exercise provided in the PEARL lesson packet or to use to bring out any other area of the lesson you choose to focus on.  Enjoy!)

Draw the Scene: Count it All Joy Draw the Scene

Word Search: Count it All Joy Word Search  Answers: Count it All Joy Word Search Answers

Crossword: Count it All Joy Crossword  Answers: Count it All Joy Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Count it All Joy Word Scramble  Answers: Count it All Joy Word Scramble Answers 

Copyright © Word For Life Says.com (Sharing any posts or lessons can only be done through the share buttons provided on this site from the original posts, lessons, and articles only. You can reblog from the original posts only using the reblog button provided, or share using the share buttons provided from these social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, etc., and they must be shared from the original posts only. All other repostings are prohibited. Posts and other items of interest found on this site may not be copied and pasted, downloaded, uploaded, etc to another website or entity not listed (physical or electronic). See COPYRIGHT PAGE for more details.

Sunday School Lesson – “Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth” Luke 1:26-38

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 1:26-38 (KJV, Public Domain)

One moment in time that would change history forever; affecting not only the life of one individual but for all mankind that ever was and that will ever be born upon the face of the earth.

Mary, the young Jewish woman from Nazareth, surely knew of the prophecy that was taught to her people down through the generations: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” (Is. 7:14).  But, never could she have imagined that she would be that one; that she would be that virgin spoken of so many years ago, (see Mt. 1:21-23).

As we enter into the celebration of the Christmas season let us not become so familiar with the story that we pass it by without a second glance.  Rather, as the angel Gabriel introduces to Mary the great feat that God is about to do in her life, let us reintroduce ourselves to His great power and plan to bring salvation to all men

Lesson Summary

Luke 1:26 “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,”

In the verses leading up to our lesson a dramatic event unfolded.  Zacharias’ lot was drawn “to burn incense” in the temple of the Lord, (Luke 1:9).  Whilst there, “Gabriel,” the same angel in today’s lesson, informs Zacharias that he shall have a son that he “shall be great in the sight of the Lord,” (Luke 1:15).  Zacharias, though working in the temple of the Lord, doubted what God could do in his life.  This caused him to be stricken “dumb, and not able to speak, until the days that these things shall be performed,” (Luke 1:20).

His wife Elisabeth conceived as was told by the angel Gabriel and “hid herself five months,” (Luke 1:24).  Today’s lesson picks up “in the sixth month” where we see the same Gabriel who spoke to Zacharias in the temple now appearing to Mary in “Nazareth.”

Once, when Jesus would first begin His ministry, Philip, after being approached by Jesus and told to, “Follow me,” (John 1:43) went to get Nathanael to come as well.  Coming upon Nathanael, Philip said, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth…” (John 1:45).  Nathanael’s response was, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).  He said that because “Nazareth” was a place nobody really paid attention to.  It was a little village despised and rejected as not being worth consideration.  But it is from this obscure place that Gabriel is sent to announce to a young woman there of her participation in the coming of our Savior into this world.

Luke 1:27 “To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.”

Mary was “espoused” or as we like to call it in modern terms “engaged” to a man by the name of “Joseph.”  Unlike modern times, to be engaged then carried far more weight of commitment then it does today.  Those “espoused” were considered husband and wife without partaking in the intimate affairs of the relationship at this time.  That would come a year later when she would go to be with him as a wife in every sense of the word.  At this point in their relationship, only a divorce could break off their engagement.

Luke 1:28-29 “And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.  And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.”

“The angel came in unto her, and said, Hail.”  In most depictions of this encounter, one gets the sense that this encounter took place outdoors.  But here it states that when the angel Gabriel greeted Mary, he “came in unto her,” giving us the impression that Mary was indoors during this holy encounter.

He spoke, “Thou art highly favoured.”  Now, to be real I think in our day we hear so much preaching on the word favor that we have missed the real significance of the word.  Too many people associate favor with the plethora of prosperity messages.  In the Bible, “favour” is associated with “grace,” and grace is, after all, God’s unmerited favor.

It’s something that is not earned or deserved.  But God, when he looked upon Mary saw something special in her to choose her to be the one to partake in this life-changing, world-changing, history-changing mission.  In God’s eyes, she was “highly favoured.”  I like the fact that the Bible does not go into greater detail of why God chose Mary outside of being “highly favoured,” lest we think of it as a list of criteria to try to emulate to gain favor when this is all done through grace.

“The Lord is with thee.”  How many times in her life would she need to reflect back on that promise?  When the news got out about her pregnancy; when all the gossips and tongue lashers had their way, how many times would she need to reach back to this promise that God is with her?  What about when uncertainty in the turbulent times of the day where people would seek to threaten the life of her child?  Or, even moving beyond this story to the scene of Jesus’ death, how often would she remind herself of those words of blessed assurance?  Is this not one of the greatest promises associated with the birth of the Messiah?  He is “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us,” (Matthew 1:23).

“Blessed art thou among women.”  No woman on the face of this earth would ever, and I do mean ever, experience what Mary did.  Not only in being chosen for this mission of God but also in every aspect of life this journey would take her through from His conception to death.  In that, she is “blessed.”  Women have conceived since the time of Eve, but none has ever been a virgin overshadowed by the Holy Ghost.  Women have carried children in their womb, but none else has ever or will ever carry the Son of God.  She is “blessed.”

“She was troubled at his saying… what manner of salutation this should be.”  One of my favorite verses in the Bible is a humbling verse and it asks, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visited him?” (Psalm 8:4).

This could be imagination on my part, but I believe one of the reasons behind Mary being “troubled at his saying” and her questioning of “what manner of salutation this should be” is rooted in the same spirit of humility that Psalms 8:4 expresses.  “What is man?” – “Who am I?” must have been running through her head that an angel of God would greet her so.

There would also be a healthy dose of godly fear intermingled with her personal response.  After all, it isn’t every day that God dispatches a messenger from heaven to speak face to face with a person.  This was truly an awe-inspiring event.  Anytime an angel appeared to speak directly to an individual it was often “troubling” to the receiver (compare to Luke 1:12).

Luke 1:30-33 “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favour with God.  And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

“Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.”  Gabriel spoke words meant to calm the fright she was experiencing on the inside.  “Fear not” is one of my favorite sets of words in the Bible.  It is spoken over and over again on many occasions to many different people; approximately 365 times, one for every day of the year.  My favorite is found in Isaiah 41:10 where these words of assurance are found saying, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”  “Fear not” pleads with mankind and is pleading with Mary to trust God wholeheartedly.

Gabriel then reiterated that Mary “hast found favour with God.”  With the task she is about to receive she would need this double dose of reassurance of God’s favor over her life.

“Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.”  “Shalt” means that it is going to happen.  God has a plan for her that begins and ends with “JESUS.”  She, in the very near future, would carry a child in her “womb.”  Though her year of being espoused is not yet up and the final marriage preparations have not been done, she is told she will “bring forth a son and shalt call his name JESUS.”  When the angel spoke to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, he confirmed the name of this special child would be “JESUS.”  That name, with the meaning of salvation, is where many would find life eternal (see John 20:31).

“He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest.”  He would be no ordinary child by any means of the word.  Jesus will later say of Himself, “I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world,” (Jn. 8:23).  He knew His origin was different than any other man that had been born on the earth.  Here, Gabriel tells Mary her son will be from the “Highest,” (see also John 3:31).

“And the Lord shall give unto him the throne of his father David.”  For centuries the hopes of the Jewish people’s awaited Messiah sprang from the promise that God made to His servant David when He said, “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever,” (2 Samuel 7:16, see also 1 Chronicles 17:14).

David desired to build God a physical house, but God desired to build off his legacy a spiritual house that will never fail.  The son that Mary would carry in her womb would hold the keys to that spiritual house.  He would be the one to occupy the “throne” forever.

“He shall reign… and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”  Earthly kings would come and go down through the course of time.  Some would be good kings, and some would be evil.  For some they would do what was right in the eyes of God while others would rule as polar opposites.  One thing they all had and still have in common is no matter who they are, and no matter the motivation, the location, or the rule – sooner or later their reign will end.  Either by death, usurping of the throne, or by some other kingdom-shifting event they would eventually lose their right to rule.

The child that Mary would carry would always “reign.”  Even when it looked like death may have won for a short space of time – He was just revving up to rule forever.

Luke 1:34 “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?”

When all was said and done and her stomach would begin to grow with child, most people would never believe Mary’s statement: “I know not a man.”  People judge by what they see with their natural eyes.  But, for Mary her statement would forever stand as truth in the eyes of all who believe that this virgin would conceive the Son of God.

Mary knew the means in which one would normally conceive a child.  She also knew that though she was espoused, she has remained untouched in this manner.  The Bible confirms that “before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost,” (Matthew 1:18).  Her questioning was more of a “How in the world will this happen?” statement rather than of doubt.  She knew her pure state.  How was God going to accomplish such a thing in her?  Her body would produce a miracle – but, how?

Luke 1:35 “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

“The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee… shall be called the Son of God.”  Gabriel answered Mary’s question.  In His own way, a way that only God Himself can explain or understand, “The Holy Ghost” will come upon her and “the power of the Highest shall overshadow” her.  Though the Holy Ghost had previously and temporarily empowered people to do something for God, here He was playing a key role in the incarnation of Christ in whom “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” (Col. 2:9).  John 1 recognized Jesus as the only begotten Son of God, (VSS. 14, 18).

Luke 1:36-37 “And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.  For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

“Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age.”  Mary never asked for a sign but what a sweet reminder of the grace of God at work.  How many times had God blessed a barren womb in the Bible?  Elisabeth’s son would fulfill a prophecy of his own (see Isaiah 40:3) and would forever be remembered for his greatness in going before the Lord.  Even Jesus spoke of John and said, “For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist,” (Luke 7:28).

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.”  Oh, how often have we quoted this and yet underestimate His power at work in it?  God, the Creator of all heaven and earth, was still fashioning things into existence in a miraculous way.  “Nothing” is outside of the scope of the power of God!  There isn’t “no-thing” that He can’t do!  “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God,” (Psalm 62:11).  Revelation 19:1 declares, “Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto thee Lord our God.”  With God, it will happen!

Luke 1:38 “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.  And the angel departed from her.”

Mission accomplished.  The angel delivered his message and departed after she accepted the mission at hand.  Let us not downplay Mary’s acceptance of this calling.  The situation could have ended her life.  The situation would bring shame and ridicule to her and her family.  It is hard to accept some of the things that God asks of His people.  At one point in His own ministry, Jesus’ teachings would invoke this response: “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6:60) questioned some who followed Him.

For Mary, the task she was accepting was in fact very hard, but she acquiesced to the hand of God and His will over her life.  Jesus later would accept the harder calling of God, and said, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done,” (Matthew 26:42).  Following God’s way will not always be easy, but it will always be right.

These little details that surround the greatest story ever told can get lost in the bustle of the celebration.  But, if we take the time to sit and listen as Mary did with the angel, we too can find assurance in the plans that God has for us 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 – Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth

Draw the Scene: Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth Draw the Scene

Craft Idea:  Bouncing off the idea expressed in the Draw the Scene section, for a simple Craft Idea students can cut out different pictures of an angel, a woman, and other items out of old magazines, books, or even different coloring books in an almost collage format to recreate the scene of Gabriel speaking to Mary as in today’s lesson.

Memory Verse: Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth Memory Verse

Word Scramble: Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth Word Scramble  Answers: Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth Word Scramble Answers

Word Search: Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth Word Search  Answers: Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth Word Search Answers

Crossword: Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth Crossword  Answers: Gabriel Foretells of Jesus’ Birth Crossword Answers

Sunday School Lesson – “An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth” Luke 1:8-20

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 1:8-20 (KJV, Public Domain)

Before Gabriel spoke to Mary, he appeared to another person in relation to the future Messiah.  He came to a man by the name of Zacharias and foretold of the child he would father.  This child would grow to be a messenger before the Lord and would be he of whom it was prophesied as the one who would be characterized as, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,” (Mark 1:3). 

Imagine for a moment, the president, king, or any head of a country, coming to an area to visit.  Before their arrival, another would have been sent ahead to announce and make the proper preparations before they get there.  Such as it was in ancient times when kings came into town.  And, so is the ministry of John the Baptist, the child whom Gabriel speaks of in today’s lesson as a promise to Zacharias, when the King of all kings makes His arrival on this earth.

Zacharias’ Duty

Luke 1:8-10 “And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.  And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.”

Righteous before God.  Walking in the commandments.  Blameless.  These are some of the noteworthy characteristics of Zacharias and Elisabeth his wife (see Luke 1:5-6).

Although he was a faithful priest in the eyes of the Lord and his wife modeled the same holy qualities, they had no child.  Being well-advanced in years, their time for this possibility seemed to be over until God steps in and shakes up their way of thinking and reorders their life with a great and precious promise.

The number of priests available to serve in those days was large.  Some estimates put them in the tens of thousands.  With that, 1 Chronicles 24:1-9 lays out the divisions of the priests.  There were 24 in all and from these divisions, the duties that were to be performed in the temple were selected by “lot.”  Using the term “lot” it describes the system of selection that depended on God to choose who will do what and when they will do it by the drawing or casting of lots.

On this particular day, Zacharias had the privilege to experience the opportunity to serve before the Lord.  “According to the custom of the priest’s office” (see 2 Chronicles 8:14), as the lots were cast for the duty of burning incense (see 1 Chronicles 23:13; 2 Chronicles 29:11), Zacharias’s name was chosen to perform this job “in the temple of the Lord.”

This was a highly desired position and considered a great honor.  Before the morning sacrifice and after the evening sacrifice was offered, the chosen priest would burn incense before the altar symbolizing the prayers of the people who were positioned outside of the temple (“praying without”), during this time.

An Angel Encounter

Luke 1:11-14 “And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.  And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.  But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.  And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.”

Above all else, we believe God to be sovereign.  We believe Him to be in charge of time and circumstance.  And, although Zacharias is considered old at this time, we believe God held his name in remembrance to appear on the scene and receive the promise of he who would be chosen and work to prepare the way of Christ at this chosen time in history.

While reverently going about his duties which, as already noted, had to be performed twice a day (see Exodus 30:7-8), “there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord.”  Imagine, if you will, being in that holy atmosphere where one might not hear anything but the burning of coals and the shuffling of his own feet; an atmosphere where everything is sacred and yet, God chose you to come before Him in the temple to perform this holy calling.

With the aromas of spices filling the air, off to the right side of the altar, beyond the ascending fragrant cloud, Zacharias sees “an angel of the Lord.”  Some depictions of this encounter may have Zacharias just hearing the angel, but the Bible says he “saw him.”

And when he “saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.”  Throughout the Bible, any time an angel appeared directly to an individual it was often unsettling and troubling to the individual (see 1 Chronicles 21:30; Matthew 28:2-4).  God does not do anything frivolously, especially regarding having a heavenly host appear to mankind.  This was an occasion to take seriously.  Not knowing at that time, the exact reason for the visit, “fear fell upon him.”

“But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias.”  Zacharias’s reaction wasn’t necessary, and the angel sought to ease the millions of horrific thoughts that may be running through his mind.  God’s dispatched angel came with a message of promise, not of peril; therefore, he spoke, “Fear not;” the same comforting words he will give to Mary in Luke 1:30.

“For thy prayer is heard.”  Zacharias was a righteous man and he was a praying man and according to God’s holy word, “The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry, “(Psalm 34:15; see also 1 Peter 3:12).  Knowing the heartbreak and shame of being childless; I don’t know how many years Zacharias prayed, but in His perfect, pre-ordained time, God let him know He “heard.”

In a previous article titled Know That God Hears, I wrote: “Our deepest heart’s desires do not fall on deaf ears.  God is not playing cat and mouse with us.  He wants us to seek Him that He may be found: “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near,” (Isaiah 55:6).  Then, He can respond!” (Word For Life Says)

And, respond He did.  The angel told Zacharias of what would be.  He said, “Thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.”  A woman, who like her husband is “well-stricken in years,” (Luke 1:7) will finally, not only have a child and know the joy of motherhood, but she will “bear thee a son.”

Just think, after all those years of let downs.  After feelings of disgrace have surely washed over them and it seemed all hope is gone – God favored them.  They would know what it is like; they will experience their very own fulfilled promise in the form of a son named “John.”

His birth would not only bring “joy and gladness” to the parents whose hearts longed to hear a babe crying in their home, and to hold and coddle their own flesh and blood – but, “many shall rejoice at his birth.”

As time goes by and Elisabeth does give birth, we see in Luke 1:58, “her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her,” (emphasis mine).  I believe the angel’s words were meant to have a much farther reach of impact in the lives of the people who will respond to his call of repentance, and eventually be led to Christ.

John’s Foretold Character

 Luke 1:15 “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.”

“For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord.”  When Jesus came on the scene, during His years of ministry, He testified of John and said, “For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist,” (Luke 7:28; see also Matthew 11:11).  Jesus’ ministry obviously is superior in depth and importance than that of John the Baptist’s (read John 1:29-34 for John’s own testimony of the Lamb of God’s ministry; He [Jesus] that is preferred before him [John the Baptist]).

Nevertheless, because of his position and unique ministry as the one who would prepare the way before the Savior, John the Baptist stands out and is extraordinary among the name of the prophets.  From the time of the womb, he would bear witness of the Christ (see Luke 1:41; John 1:15, 29-34).

“And he shall drink neither wine nor strong drink.”  This is reminiscent of the instructions we see given to Samson’s parents when an angel appeared to them.  The withholding of oneself from “strong drink” as well as other strict requirements, was in keeping with what is known as a Nazarite vow (compare Judges 13:4-5).  This devoted life would be a sign of the holy and set apart nature of the individual; that God was doing something special in his life.

“And he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.”  John the Baptist would be heavenly empowered and enabled from the womb to fulfill the role as that prophesied voice and that holy messenger, heralding to all who would listen, before the arrival of the Savior (compare Isaiah 40:3).  Anything done for God must be Spirit-powered.  Many today try to operate in their own power but fall short of producing godly fruit for the Kingdom.  John’s life and mission would be infused with “Holy Ghost” power!

John’s Foretold Ministry

Luke 1:16-17 “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.  And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

“Many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.”  When John the Baptist came into his ministry, he is seen “preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” (Matthew 3:1-2).  People from all over the area came: “Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins,” (Matthew 3:5-6).  He was working to turn hearts back “to the Lord their God.”  He was winning souls to the Kingdom, fulfilling this prophecy over his life.

John’s style of clothing (camel’s hair garments) and eating choices (locusts and wild honey) did not detract from the impact he made on those who came out to see and hear him.  The love for people, the Kingdom, and the ingrained ministry in him compelled him to reach out and help those who were seeking “the Lord their God.”

“And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias.”  In the Old Testament, it was prophesied, “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me…” (Malachi 3:1).  When we study the New Testament, particularly the sayings of Jesus on the subject, we see that John was, in fact, he that came “in the spirit and power of Elias [Elijah],” (read Matthew 17:11-13 for further clarification).

“To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.”  In correlation with this prophecy of John the Baptist being compared to Elijah, here too we see another O.T. promise being fulfilled through his life and ministry.  With almost exact wording, Malachi 4:5-6 talks about Elijah coming again with a focus on restoring familial relationships.  The very fabric that makes up the strength of the home is relationships; those connections would have “hearts” renewed in love and peace for one another again.

Some see it in a different way, perhaps referring to the turning of the hearts of the children of Israel back to the way of their fathers, the patriarchs.

Regardless of how one views it, his ministry softens “hearts” that will be ready to receive the healing that Christ will offer.

When John the Baptist does arrive on the scene to do the work of the Lord, the people would have been 400 years without hearing the voice of a true prophet of God.  The above quotation from Malachi 4:5-6 were among the last words spoken by a prophet in the Old Testament.

“And the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”  The ministry of John the Baptist would change hearts and minds from unjust behavior to “just” behaviors; leading people to look for the greater gift of salvation which is found in Jesus Christ.  As such, he was making “ready a people prepared.”  John the Baptist can be seen as the opening act, while Jesus Christ, without a doubt, is the main event.

Zacharias’ Doubt

Luke 1:18-20 “And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.  And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.  And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.”

“Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.”  Surprised at the announcement.  Overwhelmed at the possibility.  Over-thinking the proposed miracle.  All this and more led Zacharias down a path of doubt.

Here, Zacharias’s prayer was heard, and God sent a messenger to declare he’s getting what he prayed for.  But the faith that caused him to ask in prayer was missing at the declaration of the miracle.  Rather than respond with rejoicing, he responded with questioning.

What happened?

He looked with human eyes at human conditions and made up his mind for God, that it just wasn’t possible.  Let us be reminded of this great biblical truth: “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; emphasis mine).

Zacharias was a “diligent” seeker of the Lord (as noted earlier in this lesson).  God was ready to reward him, but he just couldn’t see with his natural eyes the miracle ahead.  Therefore, he asks, “Whereby shall I know this?”

What God speaks always comes to pass, so the angel, who is revealed as the same “Gabriel” who speaks with Mary – his response below is just.

“I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.”  Coming as a holy messenger of God, what “Gabriel” brought was good news!  As if it isn’t awesome enough to see an angel, period – this one brought a promise with him.  Most would think this is convincing enough, but for Zacharias, he met the miracle with misgivings about his situation and wanted something more: “Whereby shall I know this?”

Thus, the angel Gabriel said, “Thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed.”  If we fast forward to the birth of John, particularly the eighth day when it was time for him to be circumcised according to custom, which would also be the same time when he officially gets his name, we see Zacharias wrote the babe’s name “John” on a tablet.  And when he did so, “his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God,” (Luke 1:59-64).  Until that day he was “not able to speak” according to Gabriel’s words because he “believest not.”

Remember, what God promises, He is able to perform (Romans 4:21).  Believe Him for it all.

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 – An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth

Memory Verse: An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth Memory Verse

How Many Words: An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth How Many Words

Draw the Scene: An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth Draw the Scene

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Crossword: An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth Crossword  Answers: An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth Word Scramble  Answers: An Angel Foretells of John’s Birth Word Scramble Answers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 A Sinner’s Precious Gift

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christ’s Precious Gift

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking with Nicodemus one night, Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” (John 3:5).  “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,” (Acts 2:38).

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

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

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Saved by Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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Alabaster Flask Lace Up Craft-001

Draw the Scene: Saved By Faith Draw the Scene

 

 

Memory Verse: Saved By Faith Memory Verse

 

How Many Words: Saved by Faith How Many Words

 

 

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

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

The feet of faith walk forward believing God is, “and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” (Hebrews 11:6).  Faith in its highest form removes all worldly shackles and just rests in the truth that if it is His will, there is nothing that can hinder God from performing a miracle in one’s life.  Ethnicity, background, and prestige all fall away in the eyes of our Savior whose only view is that of an opened heart filled with belief.

 The Centurion Seeks Help from Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Centurion’s Faith Commended by Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suggested Activities:

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

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Dear Lord

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

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

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

Jesus Heals Bookmarks-001

Memory Verse: The Centurion’s Great Faith Memory Verse

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

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

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

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

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

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

True Blessedness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woeful Living

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

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

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

How We All Should Live

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suggested Activities:

Draw the Scene: Jesus Teaches His Followers Draw the Scene

 

Memory Verse: Jesus Teaches His Followers Memory Verse

Activity Sheet: Jesus Teaches His Followers Activity Sheet

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Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Jesus Teaches His Followers

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Jesus Teaches His Followers

 

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Sunday School Note Page: Sunday School Note Page

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!