Note to the Teacher
The scripture today is part of Jesus’ final prayer over his disciples. The ice breaker is designed to get students thinking “out of this world.” The discussion questions encourage students to dig deep into what Jesus’ call and mission is for all of us while were on this planet. The closing activity allows students to spend some time in prayer, both reflecting on their past and looking ahead to their future with Christ. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but may be adjusted.
1. Ice Breaker: Alien Takeover (10 minutes)
In this ice breaker, students will design their very own alien. Jesus says in John 17, verse 14, “I do not belong to the world.” We’ll unpack this verse later in today’s lesson; however, for now, let’s see who can design the coolest, most out of -this world alien creature. Hand out (or have students go gather) paper and something to draw with. Markers, crayons, colored pencils are all great if you have them. Give students about five minutes to work; then have those who would like to share their aliens to do so.
Virtual Option: Get students moving around with a quick “Can you get” game. In this game, students will have sixty seconds to gather as many stuffed animals as possible. For each stuffed animal, they will get one point. A stuffed alien is worth five points. Bonus points can also be given for alien “look alike” stuffed animals. Have some fun with this!
Transition by telling your students that today we are going to look at a somewhat confusing final prayer that Jesus says to his disciples.
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our scripture reading today from the Gospel of John is part of Jesus’ farewell prayer that he prays over the disciples. You may want to read John 17 in its entirety as a group or by yourself beforehand. Ask students to think about what Jesus is saying to his disciples and to us through this prayer.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- If you were to summarize this reading, what would you say?
- What was confusing about what we just read? What didn’t make sense?
- What is Jesus doing in this passage and to whom is he talking? [Answer: Jesus is praying over his followers/disciples. He is talking to God.]
- Jesus says in verse 7 and 8, “Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.” Who is Jesus referring to and what is he trying to say here?
- What do you think verse 10 means? How does this verse make you feel?
- What is Jesus praying over the disciples in verse 11? [He is praying for their protection and that they would be united.]
- How does it make you feel to know that Jesus prays for you and me?
- In verse 12, Jesus talks again of this protection; however, there is one person who was “lost.” Who was that person? [Answer: Judas.]
- Verse 14 says, “and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world.” What do you think this means? [Answer: Like Jesus, the disciples (and you and I) have been called to be sanctified or set apart from this world. We are called to be in mission to the world. In verse 14, Jesus is praying protection over us.]
- Jesus prays for protection for us from the evil one. Who or what is the evil one? How does it make you feel knowing that Jesus is praying protection over you from the “evil one”?
- What does it mean when Jesus says, “they do not belong to the world” in verse 16?
What does the word “sanctify” mean? What does it mean to be sanctified in the truth? [Answer: Sanctify means to be set apart as holy. Jesus is saying that as followers of Christ, we are set apart from the evils of the world to be in holy mission with the good news of Jesus.]
- In verse 18, Jesus says that he has sent us into the world. What are we supposed to do? How do we know this? Is Jesus’ mission for us too difficult? Is it even possible? What are your thoughts?
As you transition your students to the activity and discussion time, let them know that they are about to perform two writing exercises. Set the mood for contemplation and deep thought by providing soft music. Light a candle, if possible, to signify the presence of the Holy Spirit.
4. Activity and Discussion: Write it down! (20 minutes)
Today’s activity has two parts. The first part is a prayer you’ll write for yourself. The second part is a letter you’ll write to your future self. Start by passing out paper and pens or pencils. Tell your students to take a few minutes to sit in the presence of God. (You may also want to dim the lights, if possible.) When students are ready, have them write down a prayer. This prayer is a private prayer for the students. It can be about anything. They may choose to write about something going on in their lives, or they may choose to write about something that has happened in the past. As a guide, you may want to share with them the A.C.T.S. method of prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. The idea of this exercise is simply to have students slow down their thoughts and communicate with God.
In closing, have your students write a letter to their future selves. Try to have them think about where they will be when they are thirty-three. Have them include in this letter what they think their future self will be doing, living, working. Have them consider children, schooling, family, and so on. Encourage think to think forward about what their lives might be. Have them also include some thoughts on what they hope our world looks like, what their friendships have looked like, and how their faith will have transformed over this time. Have them include a prayer at the end. Give students about six to eight minutes to complete this activity. You may want to put some music on in the background for ambience.
Jesus’ home was not this world. He said in verse 16, “They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.” He continues by saying, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is the truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” (v. 17-18). Tell your students that they are about to go back into the world. The study time has ended, and they will go back to doing what they normally do. Remind your students that how we live and love in this world is the presentation of Christ to those who don’t know him yet. How we share and give does not just reflect us, but it reflects on Jesus.
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
- Paper and pens or pencils
- Markers, crayons, or colored pencils.