December 5, 2021 – Matthew 15 – 16

Lesson Date: December 5, 2021

Focal Scripture Passage: Matthew 15:1-9; 16:13-26

AIM: To lead students to identify four important questions that can be drawn from this lesson on Matthew 15 – 16, and to use those questions to evaluate their personal spiritual condition.


Before class: Read the notes on Matthew 15 – 16 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Write the words, “Important Questions” on the marker board or chalkboard.  Think of some important questions we face; think specifically of questions that shape our lives and help determine our futures.  Some general questions are listed below but feel free to use others that are more applicable to your students.

“Will you marry me?”

“Will you take the job?”

“What will you study in college or technical school?”

“Where will you live?”

“Will you have children?  If so, how many?”


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Tell the students that we face questions every day of our lives.  These questions require us to make decisions: “What will I wear today?  What will I eat for lunch?  What will I do today after work or school?”  Tell the class that our lives are made up of a series of questions and answers, but occasionally we face really big, important, life-changing questions.

Direct the students’ attention to the words, “Important Questions” on the board.  Tell them when we graduate from high school, we are faced with questions like these: “Will I further my education or go right into the workforce?  Will I go to college, technical school, or the military?  If I go to college, what major or degree should I pursue?  What are my career goals?”  Answers to questions such as those shape our future.

Tell the students we face other important questions throughout our lives.  Read some of the questions above (or ones more applicable to your class).  Stress the fact that these are important, life-changing questions.

Tell the class the title of today’s lesson is Important Questions.  As we study Matthew 15 and 16, we will discover four very important questions.



  1. Review.
    • Tell the class that today we are beginning the second half of Matthew’s Gospel.
    • Be sure everyone has a copy of the new Sunday School Member Quarterly.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (the wheat and the tares: genuine believers and spiritual fakes).
  2. Question Number 1: Tradition or the Bible – Which Should We Obey?
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 15:1-3.
    • Ask: “Where did these Pharisees come from?” (Jerusalem – about 80 miles away).
    • Read Matthew 12:14.
    • Explain the following:
      • Remind the students that the Pharisees were looking for a way to destroy Jesus.
      • They weren’t seeking real answers or wanting to learn; their minds were made up.
      • They were trying to find something with which they could accuse Him of breaking the Law of God, so they could arrest and execute Him.
      • Using information on Matthew 15:2 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book, briefly describe the Pharisees’ lengthy hand washing ritual.
      • Stress the fact that this was their tradition; it was not commanded by God.
      • God commanded His people to honor and care for their parents (Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16), but verses 5-6 reveal that the Jews of Jesus’ day created elaborate schemes by which they could get away with neglecting their aged parents.
      • In that respect, their traditions actually violated God’s Word.
    • Read Matthew 15:7-9.
    • Tell the students the ancient Pharisees were more concerned with obeying their traditions than God’s Word.
    • Ask: “Is that a danger for modern people?” (yes; some modern religions are based almost entirely upon tradition; they teach and obey their traditions far more than the Bible).
    • Ask: “When it comes to a choice between tradition and the Bible, which should we obey?” (the Bible).
    • Summarize: God’s Word should always take precedent over man’s traditions. Am I obeying the Bible or man’s traditions?
  3. Question Number 2: Who do YOU Say that Jesus Is?
    • Explain the following:
      • Matthew 15:10 – 16:12 tell about some of Jesus’ travels and miracles.
      • First, Jesus and His disciples traveled about 30 miles northwest to the region near the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon (locate on the Map of Judea and Galilee).
      • Later they returned to the area near the Sea of Galilee (locate on the Map of Judea and Galilee) where Jesus miraculously fed more than 4,000 people.
      • After that, they went northward again toward the city of Caesarea Philippi (locate on the Map of Judea and Galilee).
      • Jesus asked His disciples an important question.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 16:13-14.
    • Ask: “What did Jesus ask in verse 13?” (Who do men say that I am?).
    • Tell the class this was a pretty “safe” question: all the disciples had to do was report what others said.
    • Ask the students how the disciples answered this question in verse 14.
    • Next, Jesus asked His disciples a more pointed and direct question.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 16:15.
    • Ask: “What was that question?” (Who do YOU say that I am?).
    • Tell the students this question goes to the very heart of what we believe about Jesus.
    • Read Matthew 16:16-17.
    • Ask: “How did Peter answer Jesus’ question?” (he identified Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God”).
    • Ask: “What did Peter’s answer reveal?” (that he believed Jesus was the promised Messiah and God in human flesh).
    • Ask: “According to verse 17, where did Jesus say Peter got that information?” (it was revealed to him by God).
    • Ask: “What are some ways modern people might answer Jesus’ question in verse 15?” (He was a good man, He was a great teacher, He was a miracle worker, He was a fake).
    • Ask: “How would you answer that question?”
    • Summarize: What we believe about Jesus is the most important question we will ever face. Do I believe that Jesus is God and the promised Savior?
  4. Question Number 3: Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?
    • Tell the students that question number 3 is, “Why did Jesus come to earth?”
    • Ask: “What answers have you heard people give to that question?” (He came to show us how to love; He came as a great teacher to teach us about God; He came to teach us to forgive others; He came to heal sick people; He came to be an example of unselfish humility, etc.).
    • Tell the class Jesus answered that question very clearly for us.
    • Read Matthew 16:21.
    • Ask: “Why did Jesus say He came to earth?” (to suffer and die in Jerusalem, and then arise from the dead on the third day).
    • Explain that the way we answer this question reveals our understanding of Jesus’ true mission, which is an indicator of whether we are lost or saved.
    • Tell the students Peter rebuked Jesus for saying that He would die, but Jesus insisted that His future included death and resurrection in Jerusalem.
    • Summarize: Jesus came to suffer and die to pay the price for our sins, and then to rise from the dead three days later. Do I believe that Jesus came to do those things?
  5. Question Number 4: What Does it Cost to Follow Jesus?
    • Tell the class that seeing miracles, being followed by huge crowds, and eating miraculously provided food would be a lot of fun; but in verse 21 Jesus began showing His disciples what the future held for Him and for them. He started answering the question, “What does it cost to follow Jesus?”
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 16:24-26.
    • Ask: “What must we deny to follow Jesus?” (ourselves).
    • Ask: “What does it mean to deny yourself?” (put your desires aside and put His will above your own).
    • Ask: “What must we take up?” (our cross).
    • Explain that a cross was an implement of death; to take up our cross is to die to self so we can live for Jesus.
    • Tell the students that verse 25 illustrates this truth.
    • Ask: “What good would it be to be the richest or most famous person on earth, only to die and go to hell?” (none).
    • Ask: “What is more important than your soul (your spiritual life)?” (nothing).
    • Ask: “What are some costs modern Christians might face for following Jesus?” (rejection, loss of friends, feeling ostracized, verbal or emotional abuse, etc.).
    • Summarize: Identifying with and living for Jesus will cost us something. Am I willing to put my desires aside and follow Jesus regardless of the cost?


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Direct the students’ attention to the words “Important Questions” written on the board.  Tell them in this lesson we discovered four important questions.  The way we answer those questions reveals a lot about our spiritual condition.  In fact, we can use those four questions to evaluate our spiritual condition.  Read the four questions:

Which Should We Obey – Tradition or the Bible?

Who do YOU Say that Jesus Is?

Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?

What Does it Cost to Follow Jesus?

Ask the following questions:

“Do you obey the Bible, or are you sometimes tempted to obey man’s tradition instead?” 

“Do you believe Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God and only Savior available for mankind?” 

“Do you understand that Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth was to die on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins?” 

“Are you willing to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus?”

Tell the students the way they answer those questions can indicate whether they are saved or lost.

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes.  Ask them to examine themselves.  Are they truly saved?  Do they really believe in Jesus?  Is He the Savior or their Savior?  Are they willing to give up their life for Him?  Voice a closing prayer of commitment.


CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Matthew 16:15-16.  Encourage them to deny themselves and follow Jesus this week.

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