High School

Sharing Our Ups and Downs

Lesson 6 

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Winter 2019-20

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By: Caroline Ferdinandsen 

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January 05, 2020

Lesson Focus:

Because Jesus was one of us, He understands our needs.

Bible Basis:

Hebrews 2:14-18; 5:1-3, 7-8

Materials Needed:

Step 1:

  • Internet access

Summary & Links:

Students will watch a news story about an eight-year-old boy helping a classmate and will discuss the power of empathy as they explore how Jesus understands our needs.

Memory Verse:

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
—Hebrews 2:18

Step 1:

Students will watch a news story about an eight-year-old boy helping a classmate and will discuss the power of empathy as they explore how Jesus understands our needs.

Materials Needed:

  • Internet access

Have you ever been able to use your personal experience to encourage someone else? Sometimes the most compassionate friend is the one who knows exactly what it feels like to go through a situation. This year a photo of two elementary school friends caught the country’s attention—and maybe we can learn a few things from their example.

Watch the following video with your class and then discuss the questions that follow [2:20]:
“Photo of 8 Year-Old Boy Helping Classmate With Autism Goes Viral”

  • Why is it more touching to see compassion coming from a classmate as opposed to, say, a teacher? (Teachers are naturally trained to assist students who are in need, but a classmate who reaches out might be more effective since he or she knows what it feels like to be in that situation.)
  • Does your school have a program such as peer counseling? What is the philosophy behind these kinds of programs? (Professionals are extremely important when it comes to assisting someone in need. However, peers can give an empathetic perspective that an adult might not have.)
  • What is the difference between sympathy and empathy? Why is the distinction important? (Both words come from the root PATH, meaning “feeling.” Sympathy involves feeling pity toward someone’s pain, while empathy involves a higher level of relatability and shared personal experience.) 
  • Have you ever been able to listen to someone with deeper empathy because of what you’ve been through? (Allow students to pair up and talk briefly about their experiences.)

Sometimes when we pray, we can feel like we’re praying to a distant, abstract entity. Yet because He came to earth and shared in our human suffering, temptations, and physical pain, He is a Savior who is more than a cosmic Deity. He understands our struggles and has compassion on us.

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:

  • Whiteboard and marker

There is a natural paradox in the nature of God: He is both fully divine and fully human. This can be a challenging concept for teenagers to grasp. Today’s lesson emphasizes Jesus’ humanity, yet we cannot reduce Him to a soft-hearted “buddy.” Use this step to first define the wonderful characteristics that make Jesus both God and man.

Create two columns on a whiteboard, paper, or digital format: DIVINITY and HUMANITY. Divide the class into two sides and instruct them on how to fill out their column.

It’s kind of mind-blowing to imagine that when you pray to Jesus—a compassionate and loving Savior—He is also the all-powerful God who created the entire universe. With your teammates, think of as many traits as you can think of that illustrate the nature of God as either divine or human. You can use things you learned in today’s lesson or bring other examples from your study or experience.

Give students 5-7 minutes to write down some of their ideas. The Jesus-as-Divinity side will likely choose traits related to His sovereignty and power, while the Jesus-as-Man team will likely choose traits like hunger, temptation, suffering, and so forth. If available, consider placing an adult leader with each side to assist them.

When both sides are finished, discuss these questions together:

  • Does your personality tend to lean toward one view of God more than another? What can keep us from seeing God’s nature in balance? (Some students have been taught that God is mostly to be feared and obeyed; others might have been taught more that Jesus is soft and loving. Even our personalities might gravitate toward one over the other.)
  • Does the compassionate empathy of Jesus mean He is just a cuddly Santa Claus who wants to make us happy? (Of course not! His humanity doesn’t cancel out His omnipotence and holiness.)
  • Have you ever seen portraits of Jesus—or perhaps watched a film that depicted His humanity? Does that help you identify with His humanity? Why or why not? (Some students might feel like a film version of Jesus’ life helps them “see” the historical context more clearly. Some students might argue that it’s difficult for an artist or actor to adequately capture Jesus’ traits.)
  • When you pray, do you feel like you’re really communicating with Someone real? Does it ever feel like your prayers are just directed at the air? (Let students share honestly about their struggles to communicate with God in prayer. Perhaps share your own experience.)

When you’re done, challenge your students to write a letter to Jesus during the coming week. If they don’t know where to start, perhaps tell them they can confidently (and confidentially) pour out their struggles to Him. If students don’t prefer writing, tell them to take a walk alone and simply talk to God honestly about their fears and pain.

Close in prayer to end your session.

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