Humanity’s biggest hope was fulfilled in Jesus. We can choose to find hope, peace, joy and love in Him.

Use this lesson to teach students that a Christmas focused on Jesus can be better than expected.

Many of the students in your ministry have had a rough year. As we head into Christmas and New Year’s, students need to be reminded that Jesus brings them hope.

Hope for a better experience of life right now. One filled with peace, joy and love despite the circumstances of their lives. He brings us hope for the future, because we know that God will continue to work and move in our lives.

That’s the heart of this lesson. Use it as a tool to help point your students to Jesus this Christmas.

Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth

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CHRISTMAS YOUTH GROUP LESSON ON THE HOPE OF JESUS

Bible: Luke 3:15; Luke 2:5; Luke 2:38

Bottom Line: A Christmas focused on Jesus can be better than you expected.

SUPPLIES

  • 2 pieces of card stock paper
  • Sharpie
  • Masking tape

OPENING GAME: WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?

GAME PREP

On each piece of cardstock paper, write the following:

  • Front: “YOU’RE OUT”
  • Back: “YOU’RE IN”

Use the masking tape to create a line about 15 feet from the front of the room for teams to stand behind during the game.

Divide students into two teams of equal size and ask them to form single file lines behind the line.

Choose a “captain” for each team and have them stand at the front of the room.

Give each captain one of the cardstock signs.

HOW TO PLAY THE GAME

Say: How many of you have ever been disappointed before?

Well, I think that’s all of us! Especially this past year.

In this game, you will either be disappointed or really happy.

Each of your teams has a captain who will determine your fate throughout the game.

I’m going to ask your captains to turn around with their backs facing all of you.

When I say “GO,” one person from each team will come up to the front of the room.

Before you come up front, you will decide if you will stand in front of your team captain or the other team’s captain.

Two people can stand in front of a captain, or each of you can stand in front of a captain.

The captains cannot turn around or try to figure out who is standing behind them.

At this point, each captain will choose one side of the sign to display when they turn around.

They can either choose “You’re In” or “You’re Out.”

They won’t know who will be standing in front of them until they turn around.

So, they could accidentally put one of their own team members out of the game, or keep one of the other team’s players in the game by which side of the sign they display.

When I say “TURN,” the captains will turn around and display their signs.

If YOU’RE OUT, you will have to sit down.

If YOU’RE IN, you will go to the end of your team’s line.

The game will continue as the captains turn back around and the next two people come forward.

The team with one player left at the end of the game – wins!

TEACH

Say: Our game was all about hope – and you may have or not have been happy with the outcome!

Sometimes things turn out differently than what you originally thought would happen. This year has definitely been an example of this.

Looking forward to something and having an expectation about the future, can give you hope.

Say: Give me an example of a situation that turned out differently than what you had planned. What happened?

Allow a few responses from students.

There are times when our expectations lead to disappointment.

But, Christmas is all about hope. Hope in the present moment, and hope for the future.

Centuries before Jesus was born, prophets announced that a Messiah would come.

So, people were expecting Jesus and waiting for His arrival.

Read Luke 3:15.

Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, and they were eager to know whether John might be the Messiah.

There were those who thought a man named, John the Baptist was the Messiah, but God used John to prepare the way for Jesus’ arrival.

John the Baptist preached the message God laid on his heart to create an expectation that the Messiah would come.

Read Luke 2:1-7.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

The Jewish people had been hoping for and waiting for the Messiah for a very long time. And in this passage, Jesus was born.

Jesus brought the Jewish people hope. Hope for a better reality now, and for the future. However, it wasn’t quite as expected. Jesus didn’t bring them freedom from the Romans, like they thought. He brought them freedom from the power of sin, which is much bigger and better.

Jesus brings us hope too.

He brings us hope for a better experience of life right now. One filled with peace, joy and love despite the circumstances we face.

He brings us hope for the future, because we know that God will continue to work and move in our lives. He is always with us. Speaking to us. Guiding us. Comforting us. Loving us.

We also have hope that we’ll spend eternity in heaven because of Jesus. We’ll be forever in God’s presence for eternity.

(Note to Leader: We encourage you to talk more about this point in your own words. Use what is written as a starting point.)

Read Luke 2:38.

She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.

The “she” in the verse we just read was a prophet named “Anna.”

Anna was a widow who stayed in the temple day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer.

This verse says that she came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph.

Who was Simeon? He was a godly and righteous man.

The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah.

So, God had led him to the temple on the day that Mary and Joseph were presenting the baby Jesus, and at the same time Anna happened to be passing by.

That’s not a coincidence – it was all part of God’s plan.

Their expectation led to something really amazing – Jesus.

Now…

Sometimes we look forward to things that, in the end, leave us feeling empty.

2020 was a crazy year. If our hope is rooted in life getting back to the way things were, odds are that we will be left feeling empty.

But…

When when your hope is in Jesus and all that He gives – peace, joy, contentment… you will never be disappointed.

His love isn’t temporary and isn’t based on anything we do – it’s unconditional.

The peace He gives doesn’t wear off when times are hard – it’s unending.

And the contentment He brings isn’t given just one day a year or only for special occasions – it’s always available.

This Christmas can be better than you ever expected as you focus on Jesus.

(Note to Leader: Feel free to elaborate on this point in your own words.)

Close in prayer.

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. What is your favorite thing about Christmas? Your favorite memory of Christmas?
  2. How did Jesus’ birth change the world?
  3. How has Jesus changed your life?
  4. What do you hope you’ll have more of: peace, joy, love, acceptance, or something else? Explain.
  5. Does our community need more hope this year? Why or why not?

End lesson.

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