Challenge 12 What Jesus said

CONTENTS

The story shown in bold is explored in full in the Big Bible Challenge book. www.scriptureunion.org.uk/shop

Stories in this challenge

What to do                             Matthew 5:3–16

How to pray                         Matthew 6:5–15

A story by Jesus                    Matthew 13:31–33,40–46

The good Samaritan             Luke 10:25–37

Lost and found                       Luke 15:1–10

 

COMMON tips for this and every challenge

  • Always have a Bible in a child-friendly translation available, as you take the Big Bible Challenge. Even when the Bible verses are printed in the Big Bible Challenge book, find them in a Bible as well. This will help the child gain confidence in handling the Bible and become familiar with its size and number of pages.
  • Finding your way around the Bible can be a challenge in itself! Each reading from the Bible is shown in a certain way, like this:

Genesis 2:15–22.

  • Use the Index or Contents page of the Bible to help you find the book (or books) in the Bible for the readings in this challenge. In this example, the book title is ‘Genesis’.
  • Each book of the Bible is in chapters. In this example, the reading is in chapter 2.
  • Each chapter is split into verses. In this example, the verses are 15–22. In most Bibles, the verse numbers are printed very small.
  • Many of the challenges have five readings from the same part of the Bible, so use a bookmark to keep your place and it will be easier to find the Bible reading next time.
  • The Bible consists of many ‘books’ collected together and presented as one. See if you can work out what sort of ‘book’ you are exploring: is it history or is it a letter? Are you reading words spoken by a prophet or written as a song?
  • Spend time looking at and chatting about the artwork in the Big Bible Challenge. Find out more online in ‘How does the Big Bible Challenge work?’
  • When you have finished this challenge, use the simple evaluation sheet [here: hyperlink]. Find out more online in ‘How does the Big Bible Challenge work?’

 

COMMENCE: your introduction to this part of the Bible

At the heart of Jesus’ teaching is the kingdom (or the rule) of God. In him the kingdom has come. God is present with his people in a new way.

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) is teaching that is easy to understand, much of it about behaviour. It defines the way in which kingdom people live out their lives and, in so doing, rewrites Old Testament law. The new standard is harder than the old – but it grows from a new inner motivation, a relationship with One whom we can call Father (Matthew 6:5-14) and who cares about our daily needs (Matthew 6:25-34). Jesus’ pattern for prayer includes worship and requests but it becomes clear that prayer is not just a formula of words: prayer needs to become an extension of a lifestyle with an ‘Our Father’ focus.

Jesus’ teaching has more than one style. Often he used parables, apparently simple stories but often with a sting in the tail and always designed to make the hearers think and respond. The kingdom is wider than we might expect, but also, perhaps, as the parable of the sower and others in Matthew 13 suggest, narrower than we might like to think. The battle between Christ and the evil one, between the kingdom of God and the powers of darkness, is ongoing.

The story of the Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) challenges us to redefine our understanding of those whom we accept. God doesn’t look for men and women with all the right answers, but for those with empathy and compassion resulting in action. So God is able to use the outcasts, not just the ‘religious’, as instruments for good.

Luke 15 goes further with stories that are designed to challenge existing ideas about the scope and nature of God’s love. They show us that God’s love is for all, even those we might tend to think of as unacceptable. Jesus has a heart for the lost: he wants to reclaim and restore them, and repair broken lives.

The strength of Jesus’ teaching resulted from two main things. First, he adapted what he taught according to the group he was addressing. Second, his life reflected wholeheartedly the words he spoke. His words and deeds were in total unity as he lived out the message he declared.

 

CONNECT: the five stories in this challenge

Before you begin Challenge 12, spend a few minutes reflecting on the Jesus you have met in the previous challenge. Did anything surprise you?

Jesus certainly surprised the people with whom he spent time. He said things that made them think differently – and he told stories that helped them to see things more clearly. So expect to be surprised as you approach this challenge together!

Because each of these passages stands on its own, you can start with any one of them. But the easiest approach will be to begin with the key story, especially as it opens up the theme of God’s kingdom and introduces Jesus’ Father to us as our Father (and the king). Then follow the order as it is in the book. On the way, you’ll notice that some of the beatitudes in Matthew 5:3–10 are illustrated by the stories in Matthew 13 and Luke 10 and 15. Jesus has said that blessed people are those who ‘want to obey him more than to eat or drink’ (Matthew 5:6) – and he illustrates it in the stories of people who give up everything for the one treasure they desire. He has said that blessed people are those who show mercy – and he illustrates it with the story of a Samaritan who owed nothing to the man who’d been beaten up, but who chose to show him mercy.

Keep in mind the overarching theme of God’s kingdom. By the end of this section, it would be good to answer the questions: What is surprising about the kingdom of God? How can we each be a part of ‘God’s kingdom coming’?

 

CONSIDER: what this challenge means today

These teachings of Jesus are intensely practical. Don’t be tempted to spiritualise them! You could draw up a list of ways in which God’s kingdom people are ‘different’. For example, they are different because they:

  • try to put God first – even when that means they might become unpopular or poor or unnoticed;
  • care about people whom no one else cares about – or people whom others are afraid of or don’t even notice;
  • spend time with those who are sad.

Talk together about how we could be different today. With each Bible passage, challenge each other to do or say (or not do/say) one thing today that will help to build God’s kingdom. What will you do to ‘make a difference’?

 

CLARIFY: issues that may arise from this challenge

Does God ‘lead us into temptation’? 

The CEV translation uses the words ‘Keep us from being tempted’, which is more accurate. But children who have learned this in an older version may be puzzled by these words. James 1:13 (CEV) says: ‘Don’t blame God when you are tempted!’ We are good at making excuses for the times we deliberately choose wrong – but this doesn’t give us the option of blaming God for putting temptation in our way.

However, it is a good thing to ask God to protect us from those things that will tempt us and to help us to stand strong against temptation. This is the meaning of the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer.

 

Why would Jesus throw people into a ‘flaming furnace’?

The focus in this passage is not on the punishments and rewards – but on the choices people make. Those who choose right have a great future ahead with God. Those who choose wrong are condemned by God and will not be part of his kingdom and its celebrations. Jesus is not necessarily describing exactly what will happen to them – after all, we don’t expect that the descriptions of heaven in Revelation (gold streets and foundations of fine jewels) are literally true. The point is: only those who choose God’s way will have the blessings that God wants desperately to give to everyone. Keep in mind that the ‘Lost and found’ passage illustrates that God deliberately goes out to find those who are struggling.

 

COMMUNICATE: talk with God

Explain that Jesus spent much of his time in prayer to God, his Father; he knew that this was the key to his ministry. If we wish to be the people he wants us to be, as revealed in these passages, we need to pray, too. Jesus shows us how. Suggest that you and your child both copy out the verses of Matthew 6:9-13, or the words of the ‘Lord’s Prayer as used in your church, school or home. Encourage them to think and chat about each sentence, as they do so.

Children may become worried when their prayers do not seem to be answered. Point out that the Lord’s Prayer begins with the words ‘Our Father’, reminding us that prayer is about our relationship with God, rather than results. Say the prayer slowly together.

Encourage your child to use this prayer regularly as part of their personal prayer time. Could you use it each time you use Big Bible Challenge together?

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