THE BIG IDEA:
Because he loves us so much, God gives Jesus to die for us in order to bridge the gap between his holiness and our sinfulness.
Our sin leaves us helpless before God, deserving his judgment and unable to make things right with him on our own.
Trust in Jesus’ death to make us right with God, save us from his judgment, and restore our relationship with him.
The Golden Gate Bridge is a massive span of almost two miles. Think about trying to jump from one side to the other. Impossible! That just begins to picture how impossible it is for us to bridge the gap between how holy (i.e.: pure and morally perfect) God is and how sinful and ungodly we are. Jesus is the one and only bridge. He bridges the gap through his death for our sin. Trusting Jesus makes us right with God, frees us from God’s judgment, and restores our relationship with the one who created us.
- What I want the group to know and understand: Jesus did something amazing that no one else could do when he died for us and bridged the gulf that separated us from a holy God.
- What I want the group to experience: Joy and gratitude that Jesus would love us enough to give his life for us; passion for others to experience this love.
- How I want the group to respond: By trusting Jesus alone to make us right with God, save us from God’s judgment, and restore our relationship with him; by telling others this good news.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TOPIC:
There’s no bigger problem than being under the judgment of a holy God. We’ve all offended him beyond our ability to understand by rebelling against him and going our own way. We deserve eternal separation from him in hell. To make it worse, we can’t do anything to fix this problem on our own. That’s why Jesus’ love and sacrifice are so great. He did what no one else could — giving his life when we deserve to give our own. He made it possible to for us to be right with God, free from his judgment, and friends with him forever. There’s nothing greater in life than getting that good news and responding to it by trusting in Jesus.
1) Two T-shirts
Demonstrate using two volunteers and two T-shirts. One person plays the role of Jesus and wears a clean, white T-shirt. The second person plays the human with a white T-shirt with different sins written all over it. Walk out the verse using the volunteers. “God made him (the person in the clean, white T-shirt) who knew no sin, to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God (the two exchange T-shirts, so that now the human has the clean shirt and Jesus is wearing the dirty shirt). Now explain that every time the believer sins, those sins get placed on Jesus. Demonstrate by writing sins from today on strips of paper with tape on the back. Point out the sin the person committed today and place that strip on the T-shirt that “Jesus” is wearing. Now have each person write on strips of paper with tape on the back some of their sins and have them go up to “Jesus” and place them on his shirt; “their” shirt remains clean.
Imagine you’re on one side of California’s Golden Gate Bridge. Now imagine trying to jump from one side of the bay to the other (more than a mile across). Even if you were an Olympic gold medal winner in the long jump, how far do you think you would get?
Allow the group to discuss. The answer to the question is obvious: not very far. But it’s an important question to think about because it’s a picture of the gap between us and a holy, pure God. It’s such a great gap that we could never cross it on our own. We can’t bridge the gap because we’re not perfect and have fallen short of God’s perfect standard. But Jesus can — because he’s both one of us and he’s a perfect, holy God. That’s what makes God’s solution for us in Jesus Christ so amazing.
1. Read Romans 5:6-11. How does this paragraph describe us before Jesus came to us? See verses 6, 8, and 10.
Weak, ungodly, sinners, and enemies of God.
2. How would you define each of these words: weak, ungodly, sinners, and enemies?
Allow the group to discuss. If you’re weak, you don’t have the power to do anything about your situation. If you’re ungodly, you lack the qualities of God like love, kindness, selflessness, and patience. If you’re a sinner, you constantly fall short of God’s standard and live for yourself instead of him. If you’re an enemy, you’re on hostile terms with someone.
3. What did Christ do for us according to verses 6 and verse 8? What was God’s motivation?
Christ died for us. God sent Christ to die for us to show his love for us.
4. Why did Christ have to die? What’s unique about Jesus that he could pay for our sins? See Romans 6:23 for a clue.
Allow the group to discuss. Christ died to pay the “death penalty” we deserved for our sin. Since we all sin (see Romans 3:23), we all deserve to pay this “death penalty” before a holy God. He sees us as his enemies because we’ve all rebelled against his good and perfect will for our lives through our thoughts, words, and actions. But Jesus took the death penalty on himself so we wouldn’t have to take it on ourselves. He’s the only one able to do this, because he is a perfect human with no death penalty of his own to pay. It’s also because he’s God, which means he’s infinite and able to pay the death penalty for anyone who trusts him. He made it possible for us to be friends of God instead of enemies.
5. What do verses 9-11 say about us as a result of trusting in Christ?
We’re justified before God (verse 9). We’re saved or rescued from God’s wrath (verse 9). And we’re reconciled to God (verses 10-11).
6. What does it mean that we’re justified before God, saved from God’s wrath, and reconciled to God?
Being justified means God looks at me like I’m “just-as-if-I’ve-never-sinned” because he sees Christ and his perfection in me with Christ covering over my sin through his death for me. Being saved from God’s wrath means Jesus has rescued us from God’s judgment for our sin because he took all that on himself when he died for us. Being reconciled to God means that we’re friends with God now instead of being enemies. That’s because when he sees us, he sees Christ’s sinless record instead of our sinfulness.
7. How does it change the way you live when you know you’re justified (“just-as-if-I’ve-never-sinned”), instead of striving for God’s approval through your own efforts?
Allow the group to discuss. It frees us from seeking to live for God’s approval, knowing that the most important Person in the universe approves of us. It frees us from an exhausting life of performance, always trying to measure up for God, ourselves, and others.
8. How does it feel to know that trusting in Jesus saves you from God’s wrath because of your sin?
Allow the group to discuss. It should bring a sense of great relief and gratitude, knowing that Jesus rescued us from our worst nightmare because he loves us so much.
9. What difference does it make in the way you live to be God’s friend instead of his enemy?
Allow the group to discuss. It creates a humble confidence in the way we live. We’re humbled to know that the most significant Person in the world is our friend when we deserve for him to be our enemy. We also grow in confidence because the most significant Person in the world loves us and will stand by us no matter what. In addition, it makes us want to know him better and live for him.
10. Think about some of the people God has placed in your life. Who do you think most needs to know about Jesus bridging the gap for them to have a relationship with God?
Allow the group to discuss. Encourage your group to consider categories like family members, classmates, teammates, and teachers.
11. What’s a specific step you think God wants you to take to help this person see that Jesus wants to bridge the gap?
Allow the group to discuss. Encourage your group to consider that God may want them to…
- ask about someone’s spiritual background.
- tell about their own faith story.
- explain the gospel.
- invite someone to church or a Christian meeting where they can learn more about Jesus.
What ideas do you have that could improve this study? Are there creative things you do to bring this topic home to your students? Please share with the community clicking the FEEDBACK button or leaving a comment below.