Despite our strongest efforts, none of us are perfect… and God doesn’t expect us to be.
What He desires is a relationship with us, even with our imperfections.
Because we can’t erase, or pay for our own sins, we need a Savior.
Use this lesson to teach students that Jesus calls us to repentance because of His love for us.
-Nick Diliberto, Junior High Ministry
JUNIOR HIGH MINISTRY LESSON ON REPENTANCE
Written by Brian Preiser
Bible: Luke 5:27-32
Bottom line: Jesus calls us to repentance because of His love for us.
- 2 balls, cones, or items that students can find
Optional: For a messy version – use food. We did this with tacos!
OPENING GAME: LOST AND FOUND
Divide the group into two teams.
Have each team select a “representative” for the game.
Place a blindfold on both of these students and have them stand on opposite ends of the room.
Once they are blindfolded, place one or two objects on the floor.
To make this more interesting, do not put this object in the center of the room.
The teams must tell their representative where to go to find the object.
This game becomes difficult because the students are talking at the same time, making it hard for the players to determine which team to listen to.
The first player to find the object receives a point for his or her teams.
Repeat as time allows.
The team with the most points at the end is the winner.
You can even make the “object” a gift card attached to a clipboard, making that the prize for the winner.
In our game, it was pretty difficult to hear the voice of the person you were trying to listen to.
It would have been so much easier if we would have only had one person talking at a time!
Some voices are easier to hear than others.
How many of you have ever been clothes shopping with your mom?
I remember whenever I would go shopping with my mom, she would hold up a t-shirt or a pair of pants and yell my name across the room.
WHAT ABOUT THIS ONE?!
Every time, I would look around, as everyone else who was shopping would look over, and see the shirt that my mom was holding up for me to look at.
I would be embarrassed, because most of the time it wasn’t something I liked.
Not to mention, there was no need to yell! 🙂
In Luke chapter 5, Jesus calls Levi to follow Him.
Levi was a tax collector, and a person whose name would eventually be changed to Matthew.
Yes, the same guy who wrote the Gospel of Matthew.
The problem is that during this time, tax collectors were one of the most disrespected occupations.
People hated tax collectors.
Partially because they did not like paying taxes to a government they did not agree with.
But, they really didn’t like tax collectors because they would often raise their prices, and pocket a portion of the tax for themselves.
Tax collectors were some of the biggest thieves of this time.
Because tax collectors were thought to be dirty, untrustworthy, and thieves, the religious people of the day did not like the fact that Jesus talked to them.
Read Luke 5:27-32.
In verses 27 and 28, Jesus walks up to Levi and says two words, “Follow Me”.
It’s interesting because Jesus doesn’t tell him to stop stealing, He doesn’t tell him to get his act together or behave differently – Jesus simply tells him to follow Him.
We read in verse 28 that he dropped everything, got up, and followed Jesus.
In verse 29, the scene changes.
Levi is throwing a dinner party at his house, and Jesus is the guest of honor.
Jesus is sitting with them at the table, and is surrounded by people just like Levi, tax collectors and others.
The Pharisees, or religious leaders of the day, catch wind of this.
You see Pharisees would never be caught talking too, let alone hanging out with, and eating with sinners.
The way Jesus responds to the Pharisees clearly demonstrates the truth of the gospel.
He responds in Luke 5:31-32 (ESV) – “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Jesus was with those people that nobody else wanted to be around because He loved and cared for them.
Some of us might have grown up in churches where we were told we had to get our act together, dress a certain way, and have no problems in order for God to do something in our lives.
But, Jesus doesn’t come for those who have it all together.
Spoiler alert… none of us have it all together.
He came for the broken, the hurting, and the sinners.
And in this passage of scripture, he came for a tax collector, Levi, soon to be Matthew, who He would use to reach millions with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
But what does this mean for us?
I’m sure none of us in here today are tax collectors, stealing money from others when we are collecting their taxes.
But, the Bible says in Romans 3:23, that all of us have fallen short of the Glory of God.
This means that all of us have sinned.
We’ve all done things, said things, and thought things that aren’t pleasing to God.
These things are called ‘sin.’
And the Bible says in Romans 6:23, that the ‘wages’, or the ‘cost of sin’, is death.
So, the things we do that aren’t pleasing to God cost us something.
They cost us our lives.
Show the following clip of Matthew being called by Jesus… (3 minutes)
When we watch this clip, we can’t help but see the emotions on the tax collector’s face when Jesus calls him by name.
We see the Pharisee telling Jesus to stay away from him, that he is a “stinky vermin, or a pest.
Jesus doesn’t shy away from the tax collector, but instead, approaches him.
Romans 6:23 says that the “wages of sin is death,” but that is not the end of the verse.
This verse continues, “… but the gift of God is eternal life.”
Repentance isn’t just about saying sorry.
Repentance is understanding that we have sinned, and fallen short.
That we have made mistakes against God that we can’t erase or pay for on our own.
Repentance is recognizing that Jesus is really who He says He is, and accepting His gift of eternal life.
Maybe we think that someone is so rotten, involved in so much sin, that there would be no way for Jesus to save them.
But the truth of the matter is, Jesus did not come for the perfect, He came for the broken.
When Jesus draws you to repentance, your whole life changes.
Repentance is something we must reflect on often – it’s not a one-time event.
Repentance is more than just getting saved, or accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
We should stay in an attitude of thanking Him that He has rescued you from the grip of sin, even though you still sin and make mistakes.
Maybe you’re in this room and you haven’t accepted Jesus before.
Maybe you are like the tax collector, just waiting for someone to call you by name, to see you in the midst of your struggle, and give you a way out.
Jesus is that way out.
Maybe you’re in this room and you’ve been a Christian for a long time.
You’ve repented of your sins and accepted Jesus, and you’ve been growing in your faith.
But yet, often times, you think that the Gospel is for everybody else but you because you’ve already “been there and done that”.
Jesus said that He didn’t come for the perfect, and believe me, none of us are perfect.
Even if you are a Christian, you will still make mistakes and you will still sin.
Repentance reminds us of the power of the Gospel.
And so maybe today you needed to be reminded, that Jesus came because of His love for you.
He called you out, so that He could know you and have a relationship with you.
Close in prayer.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- How do you think the tax collector felt to be hated by the religious leaders?
- Who would you say is the equivalent of a tax collector in modern times?
- When you watched the video, what stood out most about Jesus’ interaction with the tax collector?
- What does repentance look like in your own life?
- Are there things that you have to ask forgiveness for regularly?
- Why do you think Jesus came for broken people?
- Do you think there are people that are too broken for God to fix?
- Do you think that repentance changes anything, and why?
- How has your relationship with Jesus changed the way you see the world around you?
- Who is someone in your life that you could pray for that does not know Jesus?
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Brian Preiser serves as the Director of Student Ministries at Bayside Chapel in Barnegat, NJ. His passion to equip leaders and to encourage teenagers to make a difference in the world they live in through the power of the Gospel.