The BIG IDEA:
Jesus not only saves us from our sins when we trust in him, he also makes us people who have a heart for doing the right thing.
We think knowing Jesus is only about spiritual matters like forgiveness of sin and eternal life with God, and we fail to realize that Jesus also wants to change us so that we live and relate to people and the world in a way that is just and right.
Because Jesus came to seek, save, and change people, we need to let him change us into people who do the right thing in the face of injustice.
A ladle of soup being given to a homeless man. It reminds us that there are people out there who have it much worse off than we do, and that we can do something about it.
The SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TOPIC:
Being a Christian shouldn’t just change what we believe. It should change the way we live. Sometimes people know Christians as those who believe certain things but whose lives don’t line up with those beliefs. As we realize that Jesus wants to change our lives as well as our beliefs, we grow to become people who do what’s right and fight for justice in a world that’s full of all kinds of brokenness and injustice like bullying, racism, sex-trafficking, and religious persecution.
- What I want the group to know and understand: Being a follower of Christ should change our lives so that we fight for what’s right and just.
- What I want the group to experience: Compassion for people and situations that are not as they should be.
- How I want the group to respond: By developing a growing awareness of what’s not right and just in our world and a growing sensitivity to steps we can take in the Spirit’s power to address these things.
It’s really clear that Pedro is religious. He reads his Bible every day at lunch. He talks about going to church and youth group. And he picks religious topics for papers in his classes. But Pedro’s friend, Jimmy, bullies you just about every day. There always seems to be a mean word or look from him. Pedro sees this but never says or does anything! How does this make you feel about Pedro and the faith that’s seems so important to him? Allow the group to discuss. Help them see that Pedro’s faith rings hollow if he’s not willing to stand up for what’s right and defend those who need help.
1. Read Luke 19:1-4. What do we learn about Zaccheus from these verses?
Allow the group to discuss. He was a chief tax collector, which in those days meant he supervised other tax collectors to get high taxes for the Roman government from the Jews. Chief tax collectors usually took a cut for themselves, so they became rich at the expense of their own people. The people would have seen him as a sell-out and hated him. In addition, he was rich. He was trying to see Jesus, but his shortness kept him from seeing him. So he climbed a tree to get a better view.
3. How does meeting Jesus change Zaccheus (verse 8)?
It changes him from someone who takes from others to someone who gives to others (“Half of my possessions I will give to the poor”). It causes him to care about the poor. And it leads him to right his wrongs, even at great cost (“Give back four times as much”).
4. How does Jesus explain what happened to Zacchaeus (verses 9-10)?
Jesus says that Zacchaeus’ actions show that he has had a change of heart and is saved. A radically changed life is the result of Jesus seeking out and saving someone who was lost.
5. Look at verse 8 again. What do you learn about what’s important to Jesus?
Allow the group to discuss. Highlight the importance of generosity toward the poor and righting wrongs, even when it costs us greatly.
6. Read 2 Corinthians 8:9. How is Jesus dying for our sins the ultimate example of God stepping in on behalf of people with a great need and righting a wrong at great cost?
Allow the group to discuss. Jesus stepped in on behalf of people like us with a great need for forgiveness by dying on the cross for our sins. He was willing to right the wrong of our separation from God because of our sin at the cost of his own life.
7. How does encountering Jesus change us into people who are willing to step in and right wrongs at great cost?
Allow the group to discuss. Seeing Jesus’ willingness to right wrongs at great cost overwhelms us with awe. It moves us to follow his example as he changes us and reproduces his life in us through his Spirit.
8. Who are some people that you admire who have stepped into some difficult situations to show God’s love?
Allow the group to discuss. Help your group think of examples from their own lives and communities. Also help them think about famous people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
9. What’s happening in your family, neighborhood, or school that’s an opportunity for you to step in and right a wrong? What can you do in the Spirit’s power to be generous with what you have in this situation?
Allow the group to discuss. Encourage your group to consider different ways to step in with money, time, influence, love, and care. Talk with them about what you can do in the face of injustices like bullying, racism, or being treated poorly because of having an LGBT experience.
10. Think of an injustice you see in “the world out there.” How can you step in and help right a wrong in the power of the Spirit when it’s not something you’re experiencing firsthand in your community?
Allow the group to discuss. Help your group brainstorm ways they can help right a wrong like sex trafficking through prayer, supporting an organization like International Justice Mission (ijm.org), and raising awareness among friends via social media.
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.