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Youth Lesson: An Emotional Day

While we are unable to meet for Sunday School, I will post an adaptation of the youth Sunday School lesson every Wednesday.  Think of the lesson as a guide to discuss a passage of Scripture as a family.  Each lesson will include some introductory material, a Scripture reading, questions for discussion, and a short prayer.  I encourage you to take just 15-30 minutes every week over dinner, at the end of the day, or whenever best fits your family schedule to actively engage your students in this opportunity to grow together as a family in faith. 

Introduction:

This week’s lesson takes place on the day of Jesus’ resurrection, or Easter Sunday. Jesus’ followers have experienced some of the highest highs and deepest lows and aren’t even sure what to think or feel at this point.  They celebrated at Jesus’ triumphant entry to Jerusalem on the day we call Palm Sunday.  They were there as Jesus was arrested and crucified.  They are confused, scared, and grieving.  They thought Jesus was going to change everything, but then he was killed by the people they thought he would rule over.  They have just heard from some of the women that Jesus’ grave is empty, though; and an angel said that Jesus had come back to life.  Could they possibly be right? If so, where is Jesus now? If not, what happened to his body?

Read:

Luke 24:13-35

Discussion:

  • Read through the passage again in sections and think about how the friends might be feeling and what they might be thinking throughout this story. Thinking about everything that has happened up until this point, how do you think the friends are feeling in verses 13-16?
  • How do you think the friends are feeling in verses 17-19 when the stranger asks them what they are talking about? Think about a time that something big has happened that affects masses of people, if not everyone (…like a pandemic). When things like that happen, there are certain things you expect everyone to talk about.  These friends can’t believe that this stranger wouldn’t just expect that they were talking about all that had happened to Jesus.
  • As the friends explain all that has happened in verses 19-24, what feelings do they indicate they are experiencing?
  • In verses 25-29, the stranger seems to scold them for their lack of understanding. How do you think the disciples felt about the way the stranger responds to them, how do you think they might have reacted to the stranger’s explanation of all that has happened, and what do you think prompted them to invite the stranger to stay with them?
  • When it becomes clear to the friends who the stranger really is in verses 30-32, how are they feeling? What do you think they said to each other?
  • As the disciples return to Jerusalem in verses 33-35, how do you think they are feeling?

Reflection:

As the men journey to Emmaus, it is almost as if their physical journey is the embodiment of the spiritual journey they are on to know the truth.  As soon as they find the truth – that Jesus is alive and continues to be with them – they turn around and share the good news. 

All of this must have been such a confusing and surreal experience for the friends.  They were some of Jesus’ closest followers, yet this stranger just shows up and explains all of the Scriptures to them.  They’ve just lost someone they admired, loved, and had hoped would be their redemption.  They not only lost him, but they are scared that their own lives may also be in danger.  They hear from their good friends that an angel has told them that Jesus is alive, but that sounds absurd – completely unbelievable.  How can they possibly make sense of all that has happened?

But a stranger comes upon them and seems to have answers.  They don’t know this man, but they beg him to stay with them.  He begins as their guest, but he becomes the host when he breaks the bread and shares it.  The moment they realize that Jesus is there with them, though, he disappears.  Why does Jesus disappear? It is almost as if he wants them to know that he is alive and still with them, but their job is now to go and tell others rather than just sit at his feet. 

Application Questions:

  • It is in what Jesus does – the breaking, blessing, and sharing of the bread – that the friends realize who he is. What are things you can do at home, school, or work to help others recognize the love of Jesus in you?
  • Who are people in your life who reveal Jesus to you? How do they reveal Jesus to you? Consider sending them a note, text message, or a phone call to let them know you appreciate them.
  • There’s a quote from Mr. Rogers that often gets shared during hard times – shootings, natural disasters, or this pandemic – that goes, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” During these days that are hard on so many people, we can look for those who are being the hands and feet of Jesus. Who do you know who is being the hands and feet of Jesus for others right now? Share stories about ways that people you know or don’t know have been stepping up in big or small ways to care for others.

Pray:

Dear God, we are grateful for the people in our lives who help us know you better through the words they say and in the ways they live. Help us see the ways you work in and through them and give us the desire to join in your work in this world. Give us the same passion to share the good news of your grace with others that the two friends on the road to Emmaus had. Amen.

Posted by Sam Oakley

Children's Lesson: The Road to Emmaus

While we are unable to meet for Sunday School, I will post an adaptation of the children's Sunday School lesson every Monday.  Think of the lesson as a guide to discuss a story from the Bible together.  Each lesson will include some introductory material, a Scripture reading, questions for review and discussion, an activity suggestion, a short prayer, and a memory verse.  I encourage you to take just 10-15 minutes every week to actively engage your children or grandchildren in this opportunity to grow together in your faith!

Introduction:

Share some background information before reading the story together.

Just like with our story last week, today’s story takes place just after Jesus’ resurrection.  We celebrate Jesus coming back to life, his resurrection, on Easter.  In today’s story, two of Jesus’ followers are on a walk to Emmaus.  They are feeling sad, scared, and confused.  They are sad because their friend Jesus died.  They are scared because they wonder if something bad might happen to them, too.  They are confused because Jesus’ body isn’t in the place he was buried, and they have heard that an angel said that he is alive.  They don’t understand how someone who was dead could come back to life.  While they are walking to another town, they are talking about everything that has happened and trying to make sense of it all. 

Read:

Read the story of Jesus appearing to two men while walking down a road to a town called Emmaus.  You can read the story from the Bible or the simplified version of the story from the Spark Story Bible below.

Luke 24:13-35

The Story:

Three days after Jesus died, Cleopas and his friend were slowly walking down the road to Emmaus. They were walking slowly because they felt very sad. “Why did Jesus have to die?” they wondered. After a while, a stranger began to walk along with them. The stranger was really Jesus, but Cleopas and his friend didn’t know it.

“What are you talking about?” the stranger asked.

The men looked at each other, “Are you the only person in town who doesn’t know what just happened?” they asked. They told the stranger what had happened to Jesus. “Jesus was a great teacher, “Cleopas said.

“We hoped he was the one God promised would save the world, but instead he died on a cross.  We took Jesus’ body down and put it in a tomb. This morning our friends went to the tomb, but Jesus’ body was gone. They said there was an angel there instead. The angel told our friends, ‘Jesus is alive,’ but…”

“Stop being silly,” the stranger said. “How many times do you need to hear this? It was God’s plan for Jesus to die and become alive again to save the world!”

By now they were almost to Emmaus.  Cleopas invited the stranger to stay for dinner. During dinner, the stranger picked up a loaf of bread, broke it, blessed it, and gave each man a piece. All of a sudden, Cleopas and his friend recognized the stranger. It was Jesus.

But then Jesus disappeared! Cleopas and his friend jumped up, ran from the room, and went to tell the rest of Jesus’ disciples that Jesus really was alive. God kept another promise.

Review Questions:

  • Who appeared with the two friends while they are walking?
  • Did the friends know who the stranger was?
  • How were the friends feeling while they were walking?
  • When did the friends recognize that the stranger was Jesus?

Discussion Questions:

  • How do you think the friends felt when they realized the stranger was Jesus?
  • Why do you think they realized that the stranger was Jesus after he broke the bread, blessed it, and gave it to them? Many of our younger children are not with us in worship to have seen us practice communion. You might need to tell them about Jesus’ last supper with his disciples and then you can explain how we observe the Lord’s Supper. 
  • The friends realized it was Jesus because of something he did – he broke the bread, blessed it, and shared it with them. There are lots of things we can do to help other people see Jesus.  What kinds of things can you do to help others see Jesus?

Activity:

Today’s story tells us about a time that Jesus walked down a road with two friends even though they did not recognize him.  Jesus is always with us, too!  Take a walk together as a family. Share about times and ways that you have known that Jesus was with you and talk about ways you see Jesus in other people.  Think of something each of you can do this week that would show Jesus to someone else. 

Pray:

Dear God, thank you for always being with us.  Thank you for giving us family members and friends who care for us the way you care for us. Help us make choices that show your love to others. Amen.

Memory Verse:

They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed.” Luke 24:34

 

Posted by Sam Oakley

Faith in Action: An Unhindered Gospel

An Unhindered Gospel

Throughout history, we have always distrusted the stranger, the outsider, the one who isn’t a part of our group.  Even though the human family shares the same Creator, we live lives of estrangement.

This antagonism toward the stranger has often made its way into the life of the church.  That is why the early church in Acts needed a lot of help from the Holy Spirit in learning how to make room for the person who seemed strange or different to them.  As we have seen so far in our readings from the book of Acts, one of the first struggles of the Jewish church in Jerusalem was to accept Hellenist Jews who were not originally from Israel.  And just about the time they figured out how to do that, the Hellenist Jewish Christian Philip went to Samaria to preach the gospel.  You will recall that Jews despised Samaritans and would typically would not even walk through their land, their animosity was so great.

Well, while Philip was in Samaria, crowds of Samaritans believed, were baptized and joined the church.  So now the body of believers in Jesus included not only the Hellenists, but Samaritans as well.  As Philip was trying to decide how to break this news to the apostles back in Jerusalem, an angel of the Lord told him to get on the road that led from Jerusalem to Gaza.  While he was traveling, he saw an Ethiopian eunuch in a chariot.  The Bible never gives us this man’s name.  We only see him as Philip saw him – he is black, he is a foreigner, and he is a eunuch.  In other words, he is not close to being an Israelite.

The eunuch was reading from the book of Isaiah.  Philip got into the chariot and began to share the good news of Jesus with him.  He had to wonder if the gospel would reach someone as different from the apostles as the eunuch was.  But it did; and the eunuch professed faith in Jesus and was baptized.  Now, Philip just had to figure out how to explain to the Christians back in Jerusalem that yet another outsider had become a believer.

All of this reminds me of a story the late Fred Craddock, preacher and teacher of preachers, told of his very first failure as a pastor.  It occurred when he was still a seminary student serving a small church in east Tennessee, twenty miles from Oak Ridge.  This is what he said:

Oak Ridge had gotten into place, the atomic energy thing was booming, and folk were coming and constructing that little town into a city.

People were coming from everywhere, in tents and trailers and little temporary carts, and all kinds of leanto’s, and they covered those beautiful little towns with temporary quarters, wash hanging out on the fences, and little kids crying through the muddy places where all these things were parked.  And my little church, aristocratic little church, white frame building, was nearby.

It was a nice little church with wonderful people, and I called the board together and said, “We need to reach out to those folk who are here.  They’ve just come in from everywhere, and they’re fairly close, and here’s our mission.”

And the chairman of the board said, “No, I don’t think so.”

And I said, “Why?”

“They won’t fit in, After all, they’re just here temporarily, living in those trailers and all.”

“Well, they’re here temporarily, but they need the gospel.  They need a church, now why don’t…”

     “Naw, I don’t think so.”

The upshot of it all was a resolution which said, “Members will be admitted to this church from families who own property in the county.”

It was unanimous, except for my vote, and I was reminded that I couldn’t vote.

     “They won’t fit in, they just won’t fit in.”

How many times have we heard that sentiment, spoken or just implied, in the church of Christ?  It had to be on Philip’s mind as he traveled back to Jerusalem.  The water of baptism had made the eunuch and him brothers in the family of Jesus, but would the people back home ever accept it?

By the way, years later Fred Craddock went back to Oak Ridge and drove by that little church.  As he came upon the parking lot, he saw it was full, BMW’s and pick-ups.  And going inside were white people and black people, poor people and rich people, landowners and folks from the trailer parks.  And over the door of the church a large sign: Barbeque Restaurant.  All You Can Eat, $6.99. Come On In.

You see, the eunuch, and you, and I all belong in the family of God.  Our names are written on the spiritual walls of the church.  It has nothing to do with our limitation, sins, and hurts.  It has nothing to do with the family we had, and it certainly has nothing to do with our own righteousness.  But it has everything to do with Jesus, the one who died and rose outside Jerusalem to make you and me and everyone who desires a part of the family of God. 

 Come on in.  All you can eat.  Everybody welcome.

Thanks be to God!

Posted by Ron Glover

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