Family Sunday School Devotional for September 20
“Jesus’ Hard Teachings” from John 6
Listen to- “Bread of Life” by Jeff Slaughter here:
and- “Break of Life” by Forever Be Sure here:
Later, watch- “Communion for Kids” from Right Now Media here:
Supplies Needed- For younger kids: obstacle course supplies; for older kids: none needed
Summary- Many people misunderstood Jesus’ teaching.
Introduction Younger Kid Activity- Obstacle Course Set up an obstacle course for children to move through. Use furniture as well as cardboard boxes, pop up tunnels, blankets, pillows, jump ropes, hula hoops, etc. to provide plenty of physical challenge. Explain how to complete the course and offer assistance as needed. Applaud all attempts. Say, “Following an obstacle course can be hard! Did you not even want to try it when I told you how hard it would be? Did you feel any different when I offered my help? In our Bible story today, some people thought Jesus’ teaching was too hard to follow, but Jesus helps us do even really hard things when we trust Him!”
Introduction Older Kid Activity- Do You Understand? Ask questions about natural occurrences. Have kids stand if they understand how it works and sit if they do not. Suggested questions: What makes the sky look blue? What causes the northern lights? How do plants make food with sunlight and air? How do birds avoid getting lost when migrating? Say, “Those are some difficult to understand topics. Some people may spend their whole lives trying to fully understand things like that. Today, we will learn about some of Jesus’ teachings that were difficult to understand. What do you think they were?”
Big Picture Question- Say, “Our Big Picture Question asks: How does God care for His creation? The answer is: God loves and rules over His creation according to His perfect plan. God’s perfect plan all along was to send Jesus. Jesus lived a perfect life before dying on the cross for sin and rising again. As a result of Jesus’ work, sin’s hold over the earth has been broken. Jesus’ kingdom has arrived! Someday, Jesus will return and fully set up His kingdom, restoring the earth to be perfect again. That’s how God loves and cares for creation- including you and me!”
Bible Story- Timeline Say, “Part of Jesus’ ministry was teaching people about God and God’s kingdom. Jesus often did this using parables- special stories with deeper meanings. Jesus used parables to teach that God’s growing kingdom is more valuable than anything. And it was through parables that we learned Jesus came to seek and save the lost. This week, our story doesn’t have parables exactly, but it does contain a message that doesn’t mean exactly what it sounds like it means- just like Jesus’ parables did.” Open a Bible to John 6:22-71. Say, “Sometimes God’s Word is hard to understand, but we know it is always true. All of God’s words in the Bible are true. Today’s Bible story is from the Book of John, right after Jesus had fed more than 5,000 people.” Read or tell the story in your own words from this passage (this story is not included in the Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook).
Christ Connection- Say, “Jesus wanted to do more than fill people’s stomachs; He wanted to give them true life. Jesus’ teachings were hard to understand. When Jesus talked about His flesh and blood, He was talking about His death and resurrection. When we trust in Jesus, He gives us the gift of eternal life.”
Key Passage- Open a Bible to Colossians 1:13-14. Read the verses aloud. Say, “Some of Jesus’ teachings are hard to understand, but when we are part of His kingdom, the Holy Spirit lives with us and helps us understand the truth. That’s just one of the many benefits that come with living in God’s kingdom. Some others are mentioned in the key passage: redemption and forgiveness of sins. Redemption is when one thing is exchanged for another, like Jesus’ life for ours.”
Review Questions- Ask the following questions:
- *PreK- What did the people want from Jesus? (bread)
- *PreK- Who is the bread of life? (Jesus)
- *PreK- Where did Jesus say He came from? (heaven)
- *PreK- Why did many of Jesus’ followers decide not to follow Him anymore? (Many people did not understand Jesus’ teaching.)
- *PreK- Did Jesus’ twelve disciples go away, too? (no)
- What did Jesus say God wants people to do? (John 6:29)
- Who will have eternal life? (John 6:40)
- How can we eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood? (Remind kids that Jesus was not speaking literally. Guide them to think about the way Jesus’ body would be killed and His blood spilled to make the way for us to be saved. Discuss how believers consume the Lord’s Supper to remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us.)
- Who can help you understand the Bible? (Direct kids to pastors, elders, deacons, parents, etc. Remind them that God has sent the Holy Spirit to live within believers. He helps us understand God’s Word with the help of other believers.)
- How can we help people who don’t know Jesus come to understand and believe in Him? (Guide kids to practical steps they can take, like offering to read their Bibles with friends or inviting them to church. Remind the kids that only the Holy Spirit can make other people understand the truth, but we should try to give them the opportunity to hear it. Talk about what living on mission means.)
- How does God care for His creation? (God loves and rules over His creation according to His perfect plan.)
Say, “Many people misunderstood Jesus’ teaching. Even today, many people still do not think the Bible makes sense. When we live on mission, we can try to help people understand God’s Word and pray that God gives them faith and understanding.”
For Older Kids- Also, ask the following questions:
- How would you answer Jesus’ question- you don’t want to go away, too, do you? Do any of Jesus’ teachings confuse you? (Invite kids to share their thoughts. Acknowledge any doubts or confusion. Emphasize that Jesus’ closest disciples recognized that even though Jesus’ teachings were hard, He has the words of eternal life. He is the Holy One of God. Read Ephesians 2:8-9)
- What kind of king did the people want Jesus to be? What kind of king is Jesus? (Help kids recall that people thought Jesus would provide physical food and protection from enemy kings. But Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. He came to give life by rescuing sinners. Read Daniel 2:44)
Reflection- Ask older children to answer one of the following questions:
- What does this story teach me about God or the Gospel?
- What does the story teach me about myself?
- Whom can I tell about this story?
Further Learning- Watch “Communion for Kids” from Right Now Media (see link above) Talk about how our church family celebrates Communion. Allow for any questions and help children understand the purpose of Communion: to remember Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins by eating and drinking the Lord’s Supper together with our church family in obedience to Jesus’ command. Correct any misunderstandings: Jesus is not more physically present in the bread or wine/juice (He is already present through His Holy Spirit living within every believer); taking Communion does not save anyone from the punishment of sins (only faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection for our sins’ punishment will save us; otherwise we are trusting in our own works- see Ephesians 2:8-9). Consider sharing how you prepare your mind and heart to celebrate Communion.
Pray- Ask God to give your family understanding of His Word. Thank God for sending Jesus to show us what He is like.
Adult Sunday School Devotional for September 20
“Jesus Teaches Difficult Truths” from John 6
Listen to- “Wonderful Words of Life” by Philip P. Bliss here:
and- “Behold the Lamb (Communion Hymn)” by Keith & Kristyn Getty here:
Summary- Jesus’ teachings about eating His flesh and drinking His blood were difficult to understand, but eternal life is found in them.
Christ Connection- Many turned away from Jesus because of these words, but it is in them that we find eternal life made known to us in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Point 1. Jesus shares words of life (read aloud John 6:52-59).
Note- Was Jesus commanding cannibalism? Of course not. Jesus’ metaphorical references to His flesh and blood confronted the concept of salvation by religion or by any means other than Jesus Himself. You cannot save yourself by your good works, your moral attitudes, your religious affiliations, your ethnic or cultural identity, your family history, your spiritual feelings, or anything else. Salvation only comes through the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God who laid His life down for us.
Flesh: Jesus’ reference to manna in comparison with the true bread of His flesh showed that the old was passing away and the new has come (see Exodus 16). In essence, Jesus was announcing that His presence and work was the culmination of all Jewish religious hope. In fact, He was announcing that if anyone does not take the next step of faith from the old covenant to the new covenant in Himself, then they would choose to remain in the darkness of death.
Blood: The Jews knew full well by God’s own law that consuming blood was forbidden. According to Leviticus 7:26-27, for instance, anyone who ate blood was to be cut off from the covenant people (see also Genesis 9:3-6). Jesus seemed to be commending an act that would result in disfellowship as a means of gaining life. Jesus allowed the offense of His words to remain, but of course, His words were metaphorical in nature.
Note- Everything in the world and everything within us tells us to believe that we have what it takes and we can do whatever it is that we need to do. But we cannot do enough to save ourselves- we are sinful, and God is holy and just, Jesus’ teaching that connects eternal life to eating His flesh and drinking His blood strikes at the heart of every one of us, whether Jew or Gentile, religious or irreligious. We cannot gain eternal life apart from Him. If we would live, we must trust Him. If we want salvation, we must have all of Jesus. We must be “all in”, and He must be “in all” of us. Christ’s hard and offensive teaching wasn’t just the perception of cannibalism but that we don’t have what it takes. Jesus, on the other hand, does.
Respond- Why do people find it so offensive to hear that we don’t have what it takes?
Point 2. Jesus shares words of the Spirit (read aloud John 6:60-65).
Note- One of the major themes of John’s Gospel is the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation. As Jesus conducted His earthly ministry of signs and wonders, He often taught about the necessity of the Spirit for people to believe in Him and to know the truth (see John 3; 6; 14; 16; 20). In John 3, Jesus told Nicodemus about the necessity of being “born again” in order to enter the kingdom of God. This new birth, Jesus said, is the work of the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit’s working, we cannot gain eternal life. The Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, is actively involved in God’s work of salvation on earth. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke tell us that Christ’s conception within the virgin Mary was brought about by the Holy Spirit (see Matthew 1:20-21; Luke 1:34-35), and the Holy Spirit was integral to the ministry of Jesus as well. The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness after His baptism to be tempted by the devil (see Matthew 4:1), and the Holy Spirit raised Christ’s body from the dead (see Romans 8:11). The crowd listening to Jesus in this passage needed ears that hear and eyes that see the glory of God in Jesus (see 2 Corinthians 4:6). They needed ears and eyes and a heart that they didn’t have from natural birth. Thus, they needed a new birth, a spiritual birth, through the Holy Spirit.
Respond- Why is it important for us to remember the role of the Holy Spirit in our salvation and our sanctification?
Point 3. Jesus receives words of worship (read aloud John 6:66-69).
Note- Jesus’ question asked of the Twelve faces us every day as well: When the truth from Jesus is tough to swallow, will we still believe it? What Peter saw, you and I must see if we’re to believe in the real Jesus- there are no other options. We cannot have Jesus plus anything: We cannot be saved by Jesus plus our good works. We cannot be saved by Jesus plus our political ideology. We cannot be saved by Jesus plus our religious affiliations. We can only be saved by Christ alone. Only He has the words of eternal life, so He is worthy of our worship and our proclamation.
Respond- What are some declarations of truth that glorify Jesus?
God is Truthful: The Scriptures are clear that in God there is no falsehood (see Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). God represents things as they really are. Everything He says can be trusted because God guarantees the truth of everything He tells us. The call for humans to be honest and not to bear false witness is rooted in the utter truthfulness of our Creator. Telling the truth is one way we bear the image of God, whose Son is “the way, the truth, and the life” (see John 14:6).
Conclusion- Perhaps at no other time in recent memory has sharing the exclusive truth of Jesus and His Gospel been so poorly received and challenged than it is today. In a way, however, we should find it encouraging that Christ’s claims to exclusive lordship and the Bible’s teaching on salvation by grace alone were just as polarizing and potentially offensive in Jesus’ day as in ours. Knowing the difficulty should not dissuade us from sharing the Gospel with others. Knowing God’s Spirit is still at work in the world to awaken hearts to receive Christ should motivate us. The task is still ongoing and the stakes are high. People are dying and left to experience God’s judgment without knowing Jesus. But in Jesus are found the words of life, so let us- in the truth, guidance, and power of the Holy Spirit- lead others to Jesus so they too may believe and live.
Apply- Because we have been given the Holy Spirit, who guides us to truth, we proclaim the full counsel of Scripture, even the more difficult parts, so others may hear Jesus’ words of life.
-How will you move closer toward Jesus in faith because He has the words of eternal life?
-What are some ways your family can support and encourage one another in the mission of sharing the Gospel with others?
-With whom will you share about Jesus and the words of eternal life?
(Pray, thanking God the Father for Jesus, the bread of life. Apart from receiving by faith all that His Son is and has done for us, we are spiritually barren because the flesh cannot help us. Ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we might declare to others the sometimes difficult but always good news about Jesus the Messiah.)