For those in the United States, take advantage of Memorial Day, which is on May 30, to do a youth group lesson the “Freedom”.
Here in the U.S. we celebrate our social and economic freedom on Memorial Day.
However, Jesus brings us an even greater freedom – spiritual freedom.
Through Christ, we are free from sin and condemnation.
Use this lesson to drive home that point to the students in your ministry.
If you’re not in the U.S., then simply use this lesson to talk about how Jesus gives us spiritual freedom.
For many teenagers, Memorial Day also means “freedom” from school…the beginning of summer. No more waking up at 6 a.m., and no more homework….ahhhh…the taste of freedom.
As a young person I remember eagerly awaiting summer as school winded down. I could feel it and taste it.
I spent a big chunk of my summers at a tiny camp my grandfather owned near Biloxi Mississippi.
Eating snowballs (or snow cones) every day. Spending the day at the beach. Swimming in the pool. Fishing with my dad. Crabbing on the pier with my grandfather, Bud. Skiing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Ahhh….those were the days! The days of freedom!
As awesome as those summer days of freedom were, they can’t compare to the freedom that Jesus brings.
Jesus brings a kind of freedom we can experience 24/7.
That’s a message your students need to experience deep within their soul.
Enjoy the lesson.
Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth
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Youth Group Lesson on Fredom for Memorial Day
Bible: Luke 4:14-21
Bottom Line: Through Christ, we are free from sin and condemnation.
5 large poster boards with one of the following phrases written in large writing in the middle of each poster board: “to proclaim good news to the poor”, “proclaim freedom for the prisoners”, “recovery of sight for the blind”, “set the oppressed free”, “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”
Large varied supply of newspapers and magazines
Markers and colored pencils
OPENING GAME: Jailbreak
Divide your group into two different teams.
Have each team choose a captain.
Set boundaries for the game that are very widespread, but clear.
Choose a central and easy to access space to be ‘jail’ which all the members of one team could easily fit in and get out of.
Choose a team to hide first. The other team will wait in jail while this team hides.
HOW TO PLAY THE GAME
When you are caught by the seeking team, you must walk to jail once you are tagged.
In order to be set free from jail, a member of their team who is NOT in jail must touch the jail and yell “jailbreak”.
The game ends when everyone on the hiding team is caught and in jail.
Once everyone from the hiding team is found and in jail, switch sides that are hiding and seeking.
(Note: Game source from wikihow.com)
GAME DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Ask the people who were the last to be caught (or who were never caught) what their secrets were for staying free.
Now that you’ve played the game, what would you do next time to not get caught?
How would you feel if you were really in jail?
What did it feel like to be in jail and not able to get out?
TEACH – FREEDOM
We are close to celebrating Memorial Day, which is a U.S. Holiday in which we honor those who have died while serving in the armed forces to protect our freedom.
Let’s talk about Freedom, and not like ‘Freedom from jail’, but another kind of freedom.
It’s really interesting that when Jesus began his ministry, he talked about freedom, which is surprising to some.
Read Luke 4:14-21
Divide the students into 5 groups.
Instruct students to demonstrate, in a cool visual way, what Jesus might have meant when he said what “The Spirit of the Lord has anointed him” to do in Luke 4:18-19 (which Jesus is reading from Isaiah 61:1-2).
Group 1: “to proclaim good news to the poor”
Group 2: “proclaim freedom for the prisoners”
Group 3: “recovery of sight for the blind”
Group 4: “set the oppressed free”
Group 5: “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”
Directions: In your small group, you will create a collage of the phrase that you have at the top of your poster board using pictures from magazines or drawing.
Cover your entire poster board.
Everyone will need to participate in sharing the amazing things Jesus fulfills.
Give the groups 10-15 minutes to complete their poster and then give each group a chance to share and display their posters while you are teaching.
Say: The people hearing Jesus say these amazing words from the scroll of Isaiah should have been amazed, but whether they were or not, we should be amazed.
Jesus said that the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
Jesus not only read these words, but his actions backed up what he was saying.
Can any of you think of stories of Jesus healing that did fulfill these promises?
Examples: Jesus healing the blind, feeding others, healing those possessed by spirits. etc.
That’s right, and Jesus also comes to bring these things to us.
You might not be in jail like in the game that we played, but Jesus always seemed to be saying one thing on the surface with a deeper meaning, and that’s exactly what he was doing here.
Read Romans 8:1-2
Let’s focus on the freedom that comes through Christ.
Imagine that there is a person who is in prison for many, many years.
Now imagine the moment when the judge comes and says that they can go free.
If that was you, what would you do?
Well, now imagine that you decide to just go ahead and stay in jail.
Does that make sense?
The doors are open, the locks are unlocked, and you are no longer chained, and yet, you stay.
That’s the sad reality that many who are Christians still live in when they continue to live as if they are not free.
Can you think of any ways in which Christians could live as prisoners?
Jesus said that he came to proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and to set the oppressed free—all which speak to different ways that Jesus can set us free.
Think of all the people in the world who are poor.
Remember that we are actually very wealthy because if you have clean drinking water or food to eat: you are rich.
But imagine what it must feel like to be poor.
What would it be like to not have food to eat?
What are some of the other challenges that being truly ‘poor’ comes with?
Allow students to share.
Being poor can be a very real sort of captivity, and many who live in these conditions feel like they are in prison.
Jesus is saying that he and his followers have a mission to help those who are poor to find freedom from poverty.
How could Christians help those who are in poverty?
How could you help the poor?
Or how could being blind be a form of imprisonment?
Allow the group to share their thoughts.
And there are other places where Jesus says that though we might have physical sight, many are spiritually blind.
What would it mean to be spiritually blind?
How many times have you felt like you just don’t ‘get’ something in the Bible or wonder what Christ would want you to do?
This might be what Jesus was talking about, but he also said that there are times when those who others think are the strongest in their ‘religion’ are blind to the ways that God is moving or calling them.
It’s a very powerful thought to think that though you might be able to see with your eyes, you might not be seeing with your spiritual eyes?
Next, Jesus also uses the idea of being captive or a prisoner.
Imagine being held somewhere and not being able to go free.
What emotions would you feel?
Listen to student’s answers.
Here is the good news that Jesus comes to bring: You are free.
From whatever kind of chains or bondage or sin or blindness or poverty that you might be experiencing: You are free.
Jesus has set us free from all of the ways that you are not free right now.
So, ask yourself these questions:
Have I truly been set free from sin in my life or am I continuing to do things that I know God doesn’t approve of?
That is slavery.
Slavery to sin.
Do you let worry, fear or anything else stop you from being free in Christ and his power?
That is NOT FREEDOM, and as a Christian, it is like you are living in a prison cell that has been unlocked.
But listen again to the words from Romans 8: Jesus does not condemn you.
He wants you to be free.
Free in every sense.
Free to proclaim his good news and freedom to those in the world who are still captive.
He is calling each of us to fight with him to free people from the chains of poverty and despair.
He is calling us to join him in setting people free to truly live.
But it has to begin with you being free
If you are not free in Christ, let’s ask that he would open your eyes and you would have the courage to accept the freedom that is yours.
Close in this prayer:
Thank you for setting me free:
Free from sin.
Free from despair.
Free from worry.
Free from being held a prisoner of fear, or worry, or whatever it might be that is holding me hostage.
Help me to realize that I am free.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Read Isaiah 61 (entire chapter) with the small group.
What other things were mentioned in this chapter that are being promised?
Where do you see some of these being fulfilled today through the church?
Which of these do you feel passionate about?
Are there people or countries that are oppressed or struggling with poverty that we should pray for?
If you feel comfortable, share an area of your life that during this lesson you’ve become aware that you are not free.
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