Scoffers On a Hill

Face to Face with Jesus

Reign of Christ, Year C

This text may seem out of sequence. Here we are on the last Sunday of the Christian year, and we are reading Holy Week texts? And where does “Reign of Christ” Sunday come from? Has someone done away with the traditional designation of Christ the King Sunday?

Note to the Teacher

in this lesson, where we find Jesus on the cross, a key point is that being face-to-face with Jesus (or in relationship with Jesus) is a paradise where we are never alone, even in the midst of pain or fear. One icebreaker invites youth to engage their science minds regarding matters of the heart and realize how we affect one another. Another icebreaker gives students a chance to connect—based on what they have in common. The discussion invites students to realize the significance of some of Jesus’ last words and conversations and his unrelenting love and care for others.

1. Icebreaker (10 minutes):

“Synchronized Hearts” or "Making Connections”

If you've got a screen and sound, engage science minds about their hearts in option 1. Get your group connected by picking low-tech option 2!

Option 1: High-Tech

“Did you know our heart rhythms affect one another electromagnetically?” Show the “Magnetic Field of the Heart” diagram at this website.

Yes, you emit an electromagnetic field that has the potential to affect other people if you’re close enough to them. Our hearts affect one another other like the metronomes in the video, “32 Metronome Synchronization.” Our rhythms and emotions influence others’ rhythms and emotions and it’s possible for us to synchronize our rhythms (watch how these metronomes sync up due to the vibrations they emit in this little metronome community).

This gives new meaning to the phrase “good vibes.” What vibes are you putting out, and what kind of vibes did Jesus put into the world?

Option 2: Low-Tech

“Making Connections”

Gather in an open space. Start by asking students (one at a time) to announce something they have done, said, or somewhere they have been. For example, “I have been in a parade” or “I play the piano.” Then have a student invite the first person who has also been in a parade or plays piano to interlock elbows with the person on the left or right side (it doesn’t matter which side). The person who just linked elbows makes a statement, and a new person will link elbows. The line continues to grow until the very last person links. The challenge is to announce something that they have done, said, or been that connects with the very first person, thus forming a circle (or at least a connected blob.)

We are connected and we affect one another. Jesus knew that and was always trying to find ways to connect with and care for others, even when he was in pain.

2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)

In our scripture reading today, we find Jesus on the cross among people who were considered criminals or terrorists (according to the Roman Empire) in their time. Jesus had two people, one on his right and one on his left, suffering violent punishments just like his. One of the people made fun of or scoffed at Jesus, asking him to prove he was the Messiah and challenging him to save himself from the cross. The other person asked Jesus to remember him. While you read, pay attention to Jesus’ words and responses and his love and care for people toward the end of his time with them.

Read Luke 23:33-43.

3. Discussion (20 minutes)

  • What were Jesus’ first words in this passage?
  • What other words were said by Jesus and others?
  • Why might it be important to pay attention to someone’s last words?
  • Why do you think the thief/bandit asked Jesus to remember him? Do you think the bandit (a word that can also be translated as terrorist) felt alone in that moment before he spoke with Jesus?
  • What do you think Jesus means when he promises this man that he will be with Jesus “today” in “paradise”?

Read one of Jesus’ last prayers, one for his disciples, in John 17:3, 10, 20-24.

  • What does Jesus describe as eternal life in his prayer in verse 3?
  • What difference does it make (if any) that Jesus wanted such unity and strong relationships among his disciples?
  • Why do you think Jesus emphasized connection and unity and relationships and not being alone so much?

We’ve discussed the face-to-face encounter of Zacchaeus with Jesus as Zacchaeus gave away what he stole from those who didn’t have as much power as he did. We’ve heard Jesus shift the face-to-face conversation among religious leaders from small, sneaky, and petty, to large, loving, and liberating. We heard about how Jesus changed people’s minds regarding what’s considered to be worthy or acceptable worship as he was face-to-face with a poor widow who offered all she could. And we come to the end of this series with one of Jesus’ last face-to-face encounters of his life, where his promise is summed up in a promise that those he cares for will never be alone. What is the Spirit of God speaking into your life and heart as you hear about these face-to-face encounters with Jesus? What does it mean to follow Jesus, who wanted change for both the oppressed and the oppressor, the poor widow and the criminal alike? How can we be more like this Jesus? How can we want and seek what Jesus wants for the world and community around us?

4. Activity and Discussion (15 minutes)

Watch this scene about remembering from Coco: COCO | Miguel - Remember Me (Legendado PT-BR).

In this movie, Coco, the act of remembering those who have died keeps loved ones from fading away (see the full movie if you haven’t already!). In this scene, an intimate lullaby, titled “Remember Me,” brings Miguel’s grandmother back to the present moment. It is not just the song, but the relationship represented in the song that brings her memory back. She remembers not only who she is but also who her loved ones are. The grandson in the movie, Miguel, does all he can to help his loved ones be remembered.

Similarly, when the criminal beside Jesus asks Jesus to remember him, his is an intimate request and expresses a desire for relationship and a desire to not be alone. So, Jesus promises him paradise. Paradise or eternal life is defined by Jesus as being with one another and with God (John 17). When we are fully present with one another, it is truly paradise because we need relationships and connection. Jesus also asks that we remember him (in the Last Supper) when we share our lives or share Communion together, because he loves us enough to care that we remember him. He also loves the world enough to insist that we share what we have and share our lives as an act of remembering him. That is what Communion is, sharing life together in Jesus’ name, face-to-face with one another, face-to-face with God, who never gives up on us or leaves us alone.

What song helps you feel like yourself again? Share it with the group by playing it or sharing the lyrics.

See if others online or at home or school have a song that makes them feel like themselves, too. Sharing music is a great way to be friends, and it helps us do things together like skate, dance, celebrate, grieve, and remember times in the past. For a bonus, have someone create a playlist (using Spotify or another music streaming service) for your group to listen to during the week. Consider building on this list so that your group can get exposed to new artists and musicians!

Close in the manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys/concerns from the students, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.

Total time: 50 minutes


In This Series...

Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Reign of Christ, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes


  • Gold
  • White

In This Series...

Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Reign of Christ, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes