Note to the Teacher
The key phrase for this lesson is “Look Up and Live.” The ice breaker lets students think and talk about their future. The discussion gets students to see that God’s message throughout all of scripture is to look at God to live. It explores the idea of repentance and God’s faithfulness to forgive when we have sinned. The activity lets students watch a movie clip to better understand the interaction between Jesus and Nicodemus in John 3 and what that means for our faith today. Times are based on a fifty-minute lesson period but can be adjusted.
1. Ice Breaker: Future Headlines (10 minutes)
Have each student get a piece of paper and a marker that is thick enough to write so that the words can be easily seen over Zoom. Tell each student to write a newspaper headline for what their life looks like in ten years. The headline could be silly or serious— whatever the students feel like writing. Give students time to share their headlines and explain why they chose them.
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our scripture reading today happens after the Israelites have been freed from captivity in Egypt, but before they have arrived in the Promised Land. During this time, the Israelites keep grumbling against Moses and God.
Read Numbers 21:4-9.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
This may seem like an odd scripture for us to read during Lent, but there is something we can learn from it as well as from a New Testament passage that references this scripture from Numbers.
- What does this story tell us about how God operates when we mess up?
- It seems that there are consequences to the Israelites grumbling against God, but it also seems like there is an opportunity for repentance. What steps do the Israelites take to get the snakes to go away and turn back to God?
- Think about a time that you messed up. If you’re comfortable, share it and the consequences that came with it. What did it take for you to be restored or for the consequences to be over (maybe a situation with your parents, teachers, or friends)?
- What do you hear in this scripture? What stands out to you or makes you think?
- Why do you think Nicodemus seems so confused by what Jesus is telling him? Is he unwilling to believe it, or does he need help understanding because he has understood things differently for so long?
- Now that we have read both scripture passages, what do you think it means to “look up and live”?
Lent is a time of taking stock of our spiritual lives, repenting of sin, and refocusing ourselves on God. What areas of your life might you not be allowing to focus on God?
4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)
This activity can be done either in person or on Zoom. You’ll be watching a clip from The Chosen, a new series about the ministry of Jesus and his disciples. The clip you’ll watch is about eleven minutes long. It shows the scene from John 3 that we just read together. Keep in mind that The Chosen is not a word-for-word dramatic interpretation of the Bible; it takes many creative liberties while sticking to the spirit of the message of Jesus. [Please check to be sure your church has the correct licenses before using any video clips. See https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/articles/online-worship-music-resources-for-livestreaming for information.]
If meeting online, be sure to check the box that says, “share computer sound” after you click on “share screen.”
After watching the clip, process it together. If necessary, use these questions:
- What is the overall feeling you get from watching this interaction between Jesus and Nicodemus?
- Why do you think Nicodemus seems hesitant to follow Jesus?
- Do you feel like Nicodemus is “looking up” at Jesus “to live”? What might be holding him back?
- What would it take for you to “look up” at Jesus and “live”? What would need to change in your heart? In your life?
Total time: 50 minutes
If meeting in person:
- Equipment to play a YouTube video so it can be clearly seen and heard by everyone attending.
If meeting online:
- Device to connect to Zoom or other platform