Youth Lesson: Friends, Now and Forever
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.
John 13-17 tells the story of Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples at Passover. Passover is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the way God rescued the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. Unlike the other Gospel accounts of the Last Supper, John doesn’t include anything about the meal itself or Jesus’s words that we repeat at our own Lord’s Supper. Instead, John includes the story of how Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, and then he includes a long speech that Jesus gave to his disciples.
Jesus knew what was about to happen – that he would be betrayed by one of his closest friends, arrested, tortured, crucified, but also that he would be raised from the dead. During this last meal with his disciples, he wanted to prepare his disciples for all that was about to happen. In the washing of his disciples’ feet, he is trying to help them understand that he has not come to rule and lead like a king. He has come as a servant leader who humbles himself in love and care for others. As he continues talking to his disciples throughout the evening, he wants to encourage them to continue trusting in God even when they are unsure about all that is happening, he reminds them that loving God means that they must also love others, and he wants them to know that God will always be with them even when Jesus is no longer physically there. Our passage this week is about Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit who would be with them always.
- What does Jesus say we will do if we love him? What does it mean to “keep the commandments”?
- Read John 13:34-35. What is the commandment that Jesus gives here?
- Think about the stories of the early church that we read in Acts. What did the early Christians do? They came together for fellowship and worship, and they shared all that they had with others. What happened as a result of what they did? The church grew rapidly. How does John 13:35 fit with the stories of the early church?
- Jesus promises the Holy Spirit in John 14:16. Depending on your translation, the word used might be Advocate, Helper, Friend, Holy Spirit, Comforter, Counselor, or Companion. All of these words can help us understand who the Holy Spirit is and what role the Holy Spirit plays in our lives. How do you understand the work of the Holy Spirit?
Jesus’ gift of the Holy Spirit is for everyone who believes in him. The Holy Spirit in us means that God is truly present with us at all times. As we consider these truths, it is important that we recognize what it means for Jesus to be present with us but also what it means that Jesus is present in others. Both of these truths should lead us to love others. Remembering Jesus’ presence with us means letting him guide us – helping us follow his commandment to love and serve one another. Remembering Jesus’ presence in others reminds us of the value they hold. If Jesus is in others, then loving others is literally how we love God.
It’s important to keep God’s command to love others in balance with Jesus’ depiction of love in John 13. Loving others shouldn’t be done as a proof of hierarchical power. Jesus showed love to his disciples by lowering himself and washing their feet. Our efforts to show love to others shouldn’t be done to set ourselves up as the hero, but they should be done in celebration and care for the other person.
- We don’t often spend much time talking about the Holy Spirit, maybe because it’s hard to understand exactly who the Holy Spirit is or how the Holy Spirit works. How have you heard others talk about the work of the Holy Spirit?
- How have you felt the Holy Spirit working in you? Think about some of the other ways Holy Spirit has been translated – Helper, Friend, Counselor, Comforter, Advocate, or Companion.
- Where (or in who) have you seen the Holy Spirit at work in you, your church, your community, or your world?
- How can you tell the difference between loving acts by non-Christians and those by Christians? Does the difference (if any) matter?
Dear God, we are grateful for your gift of the Holy Spirit. Help us recognize the ways you are leading us and guiding us. Help us remember that you are always with us and that you call us to love you and to love others. Help us live in such a way that others are drawn to you. Amen.