What Have You to Do with Us?

Follow Me!

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B

We are people on a journey of transformation, and it isn’t always easy. Today, we acknowledge the hard work of becoming disciples and of setting aside the weight that clings so closely, of handing over the reins of our lives so that we can be led into wholeness. And so, we can proclaim wholeness to the broken world around us.

Note to the Teacher

The Scripture today is the story of Jesus casting out the evil spirit from the man in the synagogue. Our guiding phrase today is “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” The ice breaker invites youth to think about whom they listen to. The discussion encourages students to process through how they can be agents of change against injustice in the world. The activity allows youth to examine the power of Jesus and how we can have confidence in how Jesus works all things for good in our world. Times are based on a 50-minute lesson period but can be adjusted.

1. Ice Breaker: To Whom Should You Listen? (10 minutes)

Tell students you are going to ask them a series of questions. If they agree with the first option, they will need to hold up one finger. If they agree with the second option, have them hold up two fingers. The point of this ice breaker is to get them thinking about to whom they listen for advice. After each question (if time allows), ask one or two students to share why they chose what they did.

  • To whom should you listen about turning in your homework? 1 – Friend or 2 – Teacher?
  • To whom should you listen about fire safety? 1 – Fireman 2 – Veterinarian?
  • To whom should you listen about crossing the street? 1 – Librarian 2 – Crossing Guard?
  • To whom should you listen about building a house? 1 – Oceanographer 2 – Contractor?
  • To whom should you listen about staying healthy? 1 – Doctor 2 – Grocery Store Cashier?
  • To whom should you listen about fixing your car? 1 – Artist 2 – Mechanic?
  • To whom should you listen about making a cake? 1 – A Younger Sibling 2 – Baker?
  • To whom should you listen about dating advice? 1 – Parent 2 – Your Pet?
  • To whom should you listen about obeying the law? 1 – Police Officer 2 – Soccer Coach?
  • To whom should you listen about saving for a car? 1 – Celebrity 2 – Financial Advisor?
  • To whom should you listen about the Bible? 1 – News 2 – Pastor?
  • Note: Ask students to come up with their own questions, if possible. Be cautious when doing this.

Follow up with these questions: (Write answers down on a whiteboard or posterboard, if possible, or make notes in the comments section on the Zoom call.)

  1. What is the best advice you have ever received?
  2. What is the best advice you have ever given?
  3. How do we know the advice we are being given is good advice?
  4. What are some ways we can tell if the advice we are being given is NOT good advice?
  5. What do you think most young people your age want advice on?

Transition to the scripture by saying, “Today we are looking at the story of Jesus in the synagogue casting out an evil spirit from a man. What is so interesting is what the evil spirit says, and where the evil spirit is! As we read today’s scripture, pay attention to what the evil spirit says.”

2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)

Our scripture reading today comes from the book of Mark. While I read the scripture, listen for what the evil spirit says to Jesus. Then listen to how the people in the synagogue respond.

Read Mark 1:21-28.

3. Discussion (15 minutes)

  • Where does this story take place? What is a synagogue? [1]
  • In verse 22, we see that Jesus was teaching as “one having authority.” What do you think this means? How did the people react to Jesus’ teachings?
  • The story we read today is from early in Jesus’ ministry here on earth. Using your own words, please recap this story. What is happening? Share this story as if you were there and saw what happened firsthand.
  • How would you feel if you were in the crowd of people in the synagogue and saw what happened to the man with the evil spirit?
  • The man with the evil spirit says, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” Why do you think he says this?
  • Have you ever asked God the same thing?
  • How does Jesus respond to the evil spirit? [2]
  • What does the response of the evil spirit tell us about the power and authority of Jesus? [3]
  • Jesus has a power and presence greater than all the brokenness we see in our lives and all around the world. How does this give you hope for the future? How does this encourage you to live out your faith in the weeks and months ahead?
  • If you have been baptized, one of the questions you are asked is, “Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?” Being against the evil forces of our world is a part of the Christian faith. How is our church and student ministry doing this? If this is a hard question to answer, talk about the ways we as a student ministry and church could better stand up against injustice.
  • Some people believe that there are still evil spirits out there today that can be cast out in Jesus’ name. Most people would agree that there are evils and injustice in the world today, even if they are not caused by spirits. We could read this story as an allegory that demonstrates how we should bring the good news of Jesus and love of God to help fight against injustices in today’s world. Do you think confronting evil (or addressing injustices) is something that we as Christians should do?
  • How do our actions toward the injustices we see today bring hope and grace to a broken world? How are we being a part of the overcoming of evil?[4]

As we transition into our final activity, thank your students for having great discussion!

4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)

Part 1: Before and After Jesus

Have the students use Play-Doh or modeling clay (if meeting virtually, use paper and pencils) to create something that shows what the man with the unclean spirit looked like before his encounter with Jesus; then have them share their creations with the group. After students have shared their pre-Jesus “unclean spirit” man, have them re-do their creations using the same clay to depict a post-Jesus encountered man. Give students a few minutes; then have them share again. Talk about what changed in their creations.

Talk about some other things that change. For example, a caterpillar changes to a butterfly; a tadpole changes to a frog. Talk about these changes and how Jesus has changed your life. Ask students to share how Jesus has changed their lives.

Part 2: Jesus and Superheroes

Ask students to name superheroes. List these on a whiteboard. (If you can, show a few pictures of superheroes.) Underneath or beside each of the names, list what student know about their origin story, what their powers are (and how they learn about them) and their main enemies. Now write down the word “Jesus” on the board. Ask students to list out those same items for Jesus. Compare and contrast the lists. Encourage students to think about all the good that superheroes do. How many of them fight against the injustices of the world? After all, the students may come up with Jesus’ enemies being something like sin, death, or injustice. End your time reminding students that Jesus is more than a superhero. Jesus is fully God and fully human, Jesus is God incarnate (God in the flesh.) Encourage them to take a stand against the evils of this world by reminding them of Roman 8:11: If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your human bodies also, through his Spirit that lives in you.” (CEB) We can think about Jesus as a Savior, one who saves us so that we could also be agents of reconciliation and justice because we share that same Holy Spirit.

Close your time together in a manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys and concerns, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.

Total time: 50 minutes

Needed Resources:

  • Bible
  • Whiteboard or posterboard and a marker
  • Play-Doh or Modeling Clay (or Pen and Paper for virtual learners)
  • Pictures of superheroes

[1] A synagogue is where the Jewish people came to gather and learn.

[2] Jesus responds rebuking the evil spirit, saying “Be silent, and come out of him!” (v. 25).

[3] Jesus is the ultimate authority here on earth. That authority refers to Jesus’ role as God’s designated representative here on earth.

[4] These can be tough questions for students to answer. Try to get your students thinking about all the evil in the world and how they can be a part of the healing and restoration of God’s kingdom. Encourage them to think about how they can live their lives to bring more grace and love into our world.

In This Series...

Epiphany/Baptism of the Lord, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Transfiguration Sunday, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes