Key Scriptures: Matthew 27 and 28, James 1:12, Romans 5:3-5, Hebrews 12:1, James 1:2-4, Hebrews 10:36, 2 Thessalonians 3:13, 2 Timothy 2:12, Matthew 24:13, Revelation 3:11, Matthew 10:22, Hebrews 11, 1 Corinthians 9:24, Hebrews 12:2, 1 Peter 5:8, 1 Corinthians 15:58, Revelation 14:12, Hebrews 3:14
Guiding Question: Life is hopefully long. How can we make sure we finish well, so we can spend eternity in Heaven?
Introductory Activity: Provide students with kendamas or other games from an earlier lesson. Let them try again to do/solve it. Ask them how much perseverance it might take to do it really easily and if they would be willing to invest their perseverance on getting better. Regardless of the answer, ask them how they decide whether or not something difficult is worth perseverance.
Lesson: (Questions to students are in bold italics.) Review the stories of Jesus in Matthew 27 and 28. Remind students that at any point, Jesus had the option of quitting, giving up and/or refusing to go through the crucifixion. What do you think Jesus chose to persevere through all of those horrific things leading up to his death? Why do you think he spent forty days after his resurrection teaching his disciples – who had basically abandoned him (except for John) by the time of his crucifixion? Why did he persevere in teaching and mentoring them about what to do after he ascended to Heaven?
Like everything else he did on Earth, Jesus set a great example of perseverance. He persevered even when Satan tempted him with an easier way out. He persevered even when he was exhausted but the people came to him for healing and teaching. He persevered even when the disciples didn’t understand the things he had taught them over and over. He persevered when the scribes and the Pharisees gave him – the son of God – a really hard time. He persevered when Judas portrayed him and Peter denied him. He persevered through beatings and crucifixion. He even persevered at trying to teach the disciples everything they needed to know after he went to Heaven. Jesus did not lead an easy life. Yet at no point did he sin or reject God or God’s difficult plan for his life.
Our lives can be tough, too. Bad things happen because we live in a sinful, fallen world. As we age, our bodies start to deteriorate. We get tired more easily. The cares of the world can wear us down, too. Sometimes it seems like the bad guys are winning and everything we are trying to do to make things more like God would want it to be may not always work. People may harass us because we worship and obey God. Satan makes sinning look a lot easier and more fun than obeying God. We do sin and some of the earthly consequences can last the remainder of our lives – even if we repent. Even some Christians may harass us for obeying certain commands God gave us. It can be easy to give up and not “finish well”. It requires a lot of perseverance to keep living the life God wants us to live every day of our lives.
Thankfully, God understands the temptation to quit. He inspired many of the writers in the New Testament to write words encouraging us to persevere. Read each of the passages. What do we learn about perseverance from each?
- James 1:12
- Romans 5:3-5
- Hebrews 12:1
- James 1:2-4
- Hebrews 10:36
- 2 Thessalonians 3:13
- 2 Timothy 2:12
- Matthew 24:13
- Revelation 3:11
- Matthew 10:22
- Hebrews 11
- Hebrews 12:2
- 1 Corinthians 9:24
- 1 Peter 5:8
- 1 Corinthians 15:58
- Revelation 14:12
- Hebrews 3:14
Skills Activity: Review the main points from the lesson. Have in Christians from various ages. Have them share ways people in their age group are convinced to give up living the full Christian life. Then have them share strategies they have used to persevere in spite of facing some of the same difficulties. It is best to give these people plenty of time to think about what they want to share before they are expected to talk with your class. Because of the potential delicate nature of things being shared and the possible overlap of strategies, it may be best for all participants to have a meeting where a plan for who will say what is developed. This will make it more likely your Bible students will get multiple helpful strategies to use now and in the future. The students may want to share with adult visitors why they believe some of their peers walk away from God and how they have persevered, too.
Application Challenge: Read the scriptures from the lesson. When do you struggle to persevere as a Christian? Which of the strategies shared during the lesson do you think could help make it easier for you to persevere?