November 17, 2019 – Hebrews 12:1-29
Lesson Date: November 17, 2019
Focal Scripture Passage: Hebrews 12:1-29
AIM: To lead students to verbalize some of the reasons Christians should focus on Jesus Christ, and to evaluate their current focus so they can make whatever adjustments are necessary.
Before class: Read the notes on Hebrews 12:1-29 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write “Keep Your Eye on the Ball” on the marker board or chalkboard.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Read aloud the phrase written on the board. Ask the students why it is important for ball players to keep their eyes on the ball (if they don’t they will not be able to hit it or catch it). Ask: “When a golfer is about to take a swing at the ball, does he focus his attention on the clubhouse or the last hole?” (no, he focuses on the ball). Ask: “When a football receiver is going out for a long pass, does he focus his attention on the stands or on the big screen?” (no, he focuses on the ball).[i] Ask: “Can you drive your car successfully if you only look out the side window or rearview mirror, but never look at where you are going?” (no, you must keep your eyes on the road).
Erase the board and write the word “Focus.” Tell the class that just as athletes must keep their eye on the ball and drivers must keep their eyes on the road, focus is important in many other areas of life. For example, we expect airline pilots and surgeons to focus on their tasks. Ask: “What are some other professions where focus is very important?” (operating machinery, caring for children, etc.).
Tell the students we can easily focus our attention on other people. Ask: “Who are some people we focus our attention on?” (celebrities, athletes, elected officials, religious leaders, and even our own family members). Tell the class in today’s lesson we will learn who we should focus on, and we will have an opportunity to evaluate and adjust our focus as needed.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Tell the students this is our next-to-last lesson from the book of Hebrews.
- Give everyone present a Sunday School Member Quarterly for the winter quarter. Share your excitement about our winter quarter study of 1, 2, 3 John and Jude.
- Ask: “What has been the overarching message of the book of Hebrews?” (the superiority of Jesus Christ).
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (faith and the heroes of the faith).
- Ask if any volunteers would recite last week’s memory verses (Heb. 11:1, 6).
- Focus on Jesus.
- Ask a volunteer to read Hebrews 12:1.
- Explain that the word compassed means to be surrounded.
- Tell the class the heroes of the faith described in chapter 11 left behind a good witness and example of how to faithfully live for the Lord.
- Explain that the word wherefore ties this chapter to the previous one, thus: because of the faithful witness of the heroes of the faith, we should do the two things described in the last half of this verse.
- Ask the class to name those two things (lay aside weights and sins, and patiently run the race that is set before us).
- Tell the students that runners sometimes train with extra weights on their legs to strengthen their muscles, but when it comes time for the race to begin they remove all hindrances so they can give their very best effort.
- Ask another volunteer to read Hebrews 12:2-3.
- Ask: “Who should we focus our attention on?” (Jesus).
- Note Jesus’ role in our salvation: He is both the author (instigator, provider) and the finisher of it.
- Ask: “Why did Jesus endure the cross and ignore the shame and ridicule heaped upon Him?” (because of the joy it brought Him to pay for our salvation).
- Tell the students after completing His sacrificial work, Jesus ascended to heaven where He is now seated “at the right hand of the throne of God.”
- Tell the class verse 2 tells us to look and verse 3 says to consider. Both words mean to examine and focus our attention upon something.
- State that verse 3 says Jesus faced opposition from sinners.
- Ask: “What does that verse say can happen if we fail to focus on Jesus?” (we may become weary and faint in our minds).
- Tell the class if a runner runs without having a goal in mind, he will tire and give up. We must keep our attention focused on Jesus, so this doesn’t happen to us.
- Read Hebrews 12:4.
- Ask: “Have we suffered as much as Jesus did?” (no).
- Stress that if Jesus remained focused on His goal in spite of the terrible suffering He endured, then we should keep running the race with our eyes on Jesus Christ.
- Summarize: Christians must lay aside anything that could hinder them and keep their focus fixed on Jesus. Doing so will keep us from growing weary or faint.
- Focus on God’s Purpose.
- Tell the class the next verses deal with “the chastening of the Lord.”
- Read Hebrews 12:5-10.
- Ask: “When you were a child, did your parents correct you when you misbehaved? If so, why did they do that?” (parents correct their children to guide them, train them, and protect them).
- Tell the class in the same way, the Lord chastens and corrects His children.
- Ask: “According to verse 6, who does the Lord chasten?” (those He loves).
- Ask: “According to verses 7-8, what does the Lord’s chastening prove?” (that we are His children).
- Ask the students to name some ways God chastens His children (conviction of sin, loss of peace and joy, feelings of uncertainty, and natural consequences of our sin).
- Ask: “According to the very last phrase of verse 10, what is the goal of God’s chastening?” (our holiness).
- Tell the class the next verses tell us how to respond to the Lord’s chastening.
- Ask a volunteer to read Hebrews 12:11-15.
- Ask: “According to verse 11, what should we keep in mind?” (the fact that God’s correction is for our good).
- Ask the class to name the three things verses 12-14 tell us to do when God chastens us (be encouraged, walk a straight path, and pursue peace and holiness).
- Ask: “What else does verse 15 tell us to do?” (keep looking to Jesus).
- Explain that if we get our eyes off Jesus Christ, we may become bitter about our suffering and hurt many other people. How we respond to God’s chastening makes a difference!
- Summarize: Christians must accept and grow through God’s chastening, keeping in mind His ultimate goal of making us holy.
- Focus on The Goal.
- Read Hebrews 12:16-17.
- Remind the students that the book of Hebrews was written to Jewish believers. Because of this, the divinely-inspired writer cited examples from the Old Testament that would be familiar to his readers.
- Tell the class Esau is an example of someone who got his eyes off the Lord and ended up in serious trouble.
- Read Hebrews 12:18-21.
- Reminding his readers that Moses and the children of Israel met God at Mount Sinai, the writer of Hebrews told them they were not supposed to go back to Mount Sinai or to the Old Testament Law.
- Read Hebrews 12:22-24.
- Ask: “Instead of Mount Sinai, what are we to seek?” (the city of God, the church of God, and the Son of God).
- Explain that our goal is not to return to the old covenant, represented by Mount Sinai, but to focus on Jesus Christ, “the mediator of the New Covenant.”
- Ask a volunteer to read Hebrews 12:28-29.
- Ask: “What enables us to serve God?” (His grace).
- Ask: “How are we to serve God?” (with reverence and fear).
- Ask: “How is our God described in verse 29?” (a consuming fire).
- Summarize: Christians must not return to man-centered and works-centered religion, that produces only death.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Ask: “Have you ever been distracted while driving? What are some things that can happen if we do not keep our eyes on the road?” (we can drift off course, we can drive recklessly, we can get a traffic ticket, or we could even have a wreck). Tell the students that distracted driving is a major cause of accidents.
Tell the class that today’s lesson is about keeping our focus on Jesus. Ask the students to verbalize some reasons Christians should focus on Jesus Christ (He is the author and finisher of our faith, He suffered and died for us, He chastens us to make us more like Him, and He will one day take us to live with Him in heaven). After a few moments of discussion, tell the class we shouldn’t focus on people, because they will let us down. The only person who will never let us down is Jesus Christ. We must not focus on circumstances, because they are subject to change. The only thing that will never change is Jesus Christ. Christians should focus on Jesus!
Ask: “Is Jesus Christ the most important thing in your life right now? Are you focused on Jesus, or has your focus drifted to other people, hobbies, sports, or work? What will it take for you to get your focus back on Jesus Christ?” Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes. Encourage them to privately evaluate their current focus and to make whatever adjustments are necessary to get their focus back on the Lord Jesus Christ. Voice a closing prayer.
CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Hebrews 12:2. Urge them to keep their eyes on Jesus this week.
[i] For two stories of football players who lost their focus, see https://www.foxnews.com/sports/california-high-school-player-tackles-teammate-interception.
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