Upper Elementary

Life or Death

Lesson 8 


Winter 2019-20


By: Suzanne Gosselin 


January 19, 2020

Lesson Focus:

Jesus has absolute power over death.

Bible Basis:

John 11:1-44

Materials Needed:

Step 1:

  • Internet access

Summary & Links:

Students will watch a video about a baby whom doctors said would die at birth but defied the odds as they explore Jesus’ absolute power over death.

Memory Verse:

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”
—John 11:25

Step 1:

Students will watch a video about a baby whom doctors said would die at birth but defied the odds as they explore Jesus’ absolute power over death.

Materials Needed:

  • Internet access
  • Talk about a time when you thought something bad was going to happen and something good happened instead. Maybe your team came back from being way behind to win the game, or someone you know was really sick but got better. (Answers will vary. Have a story from your own life prepared to get discussion going.)
  • How did you feel when you realized the bad thing wasn’t going to happen after all? (Students may talk about feeling relieved, overjoyed, amazed, etc.)

We all love a good surprise. But sometimes we’re surprised in life by something bad. We live in a world where there is life and death. People are born, and people die. You may know someone who has died. Even with doctors and hospitals, sometimes people die and that can be very sad.  

Two years ago, Drew and Ariann Corpstein, a young couple living in Iowa, were expecting a baby. When Ariann was pregnant, a medical test revealed that the baby’s brain wasn’t developing properly.

Doctors told the Corpsteins some sad news—they believed that when the baby was born, he would only live for hours—or a few days at the most. The Corpsteins told their family and closest friends their sad news. They did not decorate a nursery. They did not have a baby shower. They trusted that God was in control of their baby’s life, and they prepared to say goodbye. Let’s watch a video that tells more of their story.

Share the following video with your students [1:45]:
Meet ‘Matthew the Great’: The Iowa baby who defied a terminal diagnosis and lived

  • What happened that surprised everyone? (Students may share that the baby didn’t die as the doctors had predicted and did not have the condition they thought he had.) 
  • How do you think Matthew’s parents, Drew and Ariann, felt? (Answers will vary. Students may say that they were amazed and couldn’t believe what was happening, they were thrilled.)

When baby Matthew was born, doctors discovered that his brain was fully formed. It had just been pushed to one side of his skull by fluid. But a surgical procedure could fix the problem and allow Matthew to live a normal life.

Drew and Ariann were astounded and overjoyed! They had come to the hospital prepared to say goodbye and now they would get to take their baby home healthy! They shared the news with overjoyed family members and friends. No one could believe it! Matthew was going to live!  

Sometimes the reality of death can feel sad and even frightening. But as believers in Jesus, we don’t have to fear it. Jesus has conquered death and offers us eternal life. When Jesus was on earth, some of His friends experienced the death of someone they loved very much. But Jesus showed that He has absolute power over death.

Looking for Steps 2, 3 & 4?

You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide. To purchase a teacher’s guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes.

Step 4:

Materials Needed:

  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Optional: Colored markers

Jesus showed Mary and Martha that He had absolute power over death when He raised Lazarus. Death in our world is the result of sin. (You may choose to read Romans 5:12.) But Jesus died so that we can be forgiven of our sin; He reconciled us to God. Even though it’s sad when someone dies, we can have peace and hope when we believe in Jesus.

Ask a volunteer to read today’s memory verse (John 11:25).

  • What does it mean that Jesus is the resurrection and the life? (Students may discuss that Jesus died on the cross and rose again, conquering death, and offers eternal life to those who believe in Him.)
  • What does it mean that a person who believes in Jesus lives even though he dies? (Students may discuss that when a Christian dies, he or she goes to heaven to live with God forever.)

If you trust in Jesus as you Savior, you will never truly die. Your body will die, but your soul — the part of you that thinks and feels — will live forever with God. Jesus has absolute power over death, both in this life and in eternity. That is why we don’t need to fear death.

Hand each child a sheet of paper and a pencil (you may want to provide markers for this art project).

Jesus has absolute power over death. What an amazing truth that can give us peace and hope. Take the next few minutes to draw something that represents Jesus being the resurrection and the life. You can draw fancy or graffiti words, a cross and tomb, a picture of Jesus or a picture that represents how you feel because of this truth. Let’s listen to this song together as you draw.

Play this music video while your students work [5:31]:
Phil Wickham – Living Hope (Official Music Video)

Jesus has absolute power over death. It’s no problem to Him. He defeated sin and death for all time! Listen as I read a few of the lyrics from the song:

Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ, my living hope

Jesus is our living hope. We do not have to be afraid of death, because He has absolute power over it. Put your drawing in a place you will see it this week, to remind you Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

If time permits invite (but do not require) volunteers to show and discuss what they drew.

Close in prayer, thanking Jesus for conquering death and offering us eternal life.

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