Note to the Teacher
The question that Jesus asks in the Scripture today is, “Who do people say that I am?” or, “Who do you say that I am?” The icebreaker and activities today encourage students to define for themselves who they believe God, through Jesus Christ, to be. So often, the world tells us how we should define God, but for each of us, God can be represented in a variety of ways that can change at different points in our lives. Students will also look at how they are bearers of God’s image to others. Times are based on a 50-minute lesson period but can be adjusted.
1. Icebreaker: Images of God (10 minutes)
Because so much of our world is covered in imagery, we often learn from visual cues and images. Throughout the history of Christianity, iconography has been used to help people relate to and understand the image of God, for their time and their place. 
Option 1: High Tech
Invite students to use their phones to Google images of God. Have everyone pick an icon/image that resonates with them and share what they chose and why they chose it.
Option 2: Low Tech
Give each student a piece of paper and invite them to quickly draw an image or write a word that describes who God is for them. Have students share what they wrote or drew as they are comfortable.
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our Scripture today follows yet another incident in the life of the disciples where they are struggling to understand and grasp what Jesus is trying to teach them. The disciples are so wrapped up in the teachings of the world, the Sadducees and the Pharisees, that they are missing the teachings of Jesus.
Read Matthew 16:13-20, CEB.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- Jesus asks: “Who do people say the Human One is?” What Scriptural images are given to answer that question?
- What is the difference between connecting a name with a person to describe another person (like, “You know, Jesus, Mary and Joseph’s boy”) and using descriptive words to describe a person (like, “You know, that traveling preacher who heals lepers”)?
- What does Jesus mean when he says, “Happy are you, Simon’s son of Jonah, because no human has shown this to you. Rather my Father who is in heaven has shown you”?
- Why do you think, after making sure they understood who he is and why he is there, Jesus tells his disciples not to tell anyone that he is the Christ?
- Is it easier to tell someone you believe in Christ or to describe God using images or descriptive words?
- How do you remember learning about God or Christ? What images or descriptions come to mind?
4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)
Make sure everyone has a cellphone or a way to take pictures. Students can work as individuals or in groups. If you don’t have ways to take a picture, students can bring the actual item they find back with them.
Invite each student/group to go around the church campus and find 5-10 things that illustrate who God is. When they find something, they should take a picture of it.
Have students/groups share what they found to describe God and why they picked each item. Invite students to be aware of the things that remind them of who God is throughout the rest of the week.
Close in the manner that is typical for you. Consider listing joys/concerns from the students; then ask for a volunteer to close in prayer.
Total time: 50 minutes
- Cellphones and/or paper and markers