The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20 ESV).
What You’ll Need
* Space for small groups to gather
* Paper and pens for each group
What You’ll Do
If your group is large, divide it into smaller groups of 5–7 members. Give each group some paper and pens for taking notes if they want to.
Describe the task: Each group is on a sinking ship in a storm. There is a lifeboat available, and it has room for all but one of the number of people in each group. No creative solutions are possible—one person in the group must be left behind to die. Explain that each person must make an argument for him- or herself (not another participant) to be the one left behind.
Set a time limit of three minutes per person to allow each participant to make an argument in favor of his or her sacrifice. If groups want to take notes on the main points of the arguments, they may. When time is up, explain that they have two more minutes to come to a group decision on whose argument was the most compelling and why.
Once time is up, gather everyone and invite them to make themselves comfortable. Hand out refreshments as you guide discussion based on questions and comments like the ones below.
* How did it feel to make a case for your own death? Did you find yourself emphasizing your strengths or your weaknesses?
* What about the group discussion, choosing the most compelling case for being left behind? What made that difficult? What influenced your group’s choice?
* Many ancient religions included animal sacrifices in their worship. Baseball players today often hit a sacrifice fly. What purpose do these have in common? So what is a sacrifice? What does this word bring to mind? What are the connotations of this word?
* The Cambridge English Dictionary says that sacrifice is “to give up something that is valuable to you in order to help another person.” The sacrifice in the story we’re talking about today could, perhaps, be squeezed into that definition. But the truth is that Christ’s death for our sake on the cross involved so much more than giving something up to help someone else.
Jesus was the Son of God—think: infinite wisdom and power. And in love, he allowed himself to be accused, abused, beaten, and killed, cut off from God. Guess what? That punishment was not his; it was ours! We deserved all that for not obeying God’s Law perfectly. All of the anti-God things we think and say and do should add to the charges that stand against us in God’s court of judgment. But Jesus suffered instead of us.
What was the argument in favor of his dying to save us? Spoiler alert: there was no argument. No one but Jesus could love us so much and accomplish our eternal salvation. The Bible tells us, “Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:12 ESV). Listen to that again: a single sacrifice . . . for all time.
Do you realize what that means? Jesus didn’t just “give something up in order to help another person.” His sacrifice means all the debt we owe to God in penalty for our sins is paid for all eternity. Jesus’ sacrifice means we live now, knowing we are at peace with God. That’s not just helpful—Jesus’ sacrifice made our eternal life possible! (Read Galatians 2:20 together.) That’s very, very real.
* How does this reality change the way you might approach the lifeboat challenge? How does it change the way you might think or speak or act today?
Editor’s note: Today’s activity comes from CTA’s More Than a Story youth experience outline. In this FREE digital download, you’ll get all of the details you need for planning seven events for your student group. The activities are perfect for the Easter season and for youth meetings year-round. Don’t miss the impactful giveaways that go with the experience—a mini LED flashlight and thumbprint keychain.
You are welcome to copy this article for one-time use when you include this credit line and receive no monetary benefit from it: © 2020 CTA, Inc. Used with permission.
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