The atonement is so hard to fathom that when we reach the limits of our understanding, the only thing we can do is worship.
Whiteboard and markers, three brown paper bags containing one object each (a toy or a household/office item), writing paper, pens
Connecting with the Scripture Topic
- When you consider the natural world (creation, weather, physics, etc.), is there something that you just cannot understand? Share with the group one thing in the world that you just can’t explain.
- Have three volunteers reach into the paper bags and feel the objects inside (no peeking!). Then have them try and explain to the rest of the class what they are touching. See if the class members can identify the objects. Discuss what challenges the volunteers faced in giving an accurate description of the objects. How hard was it for the rest of the class to get a full picture of the items?
Sharing and Receiving Scripture
- What biblical concept has been most difficult for you to explain to someone else? How did you describe this concept? Were you successful in getting your point across?
- Thought Questions
- Maybe some people need to experience a bit of God’s wrath to be converted.
- The character of God is so multifaceted that we can’t really grasp it all.
- Romans 1:18 only seems harsh because we can’t see the anguish that this causes God.
- Genesis 3:15 shows God’s love for all humanity; Romans 1:18 applies only to those who reject that love.
- True love includes discipline and sometimes even punishment.
Does the imagery of a God of peace crushing Satan (Romans 16:20) make you want to receive the grace of Jesus?
- I have to admit, it makes me a bit fearful of God.
- I’m thankful that the grace of Jesus keeps God from crushing me.
- The only way to enjoy true peace is to deal decisively with anything that threatens that peace.
- When Satan has ravaged my life, God’s promise of ultimate vengeance on that enemy is very attractive.
- We can’t see now the full extent of the damage that Satan has inflicted on the universe.
- God told Jesus to die for us.
- Jesus’ love is incomprehensible.
- We are that valuable.
- That’s what true love does, without a moment’s hesitation.
- It’s not just about us; the future of the whole universe is at stake.
In your opinion, what is the most significant aspect of Jesus’ cry in Matthew 27:46?
- The sheer terror that’s revealed at the thought of being forsaken by God
- The confusion—why?—of One who did everything right but is now being rejected by God
- That Jesus stayed on the cross for us at that moment
- We can’t begin to understand the deep, loving connection between the members of the Godhead.
- The anguish in God’s heart at hearing Jesus’ despair
Applying the Message of Scripture
Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. Then report back to your group when your facilitator says time is up.
- Option 1: Consider this question: “How can we adequately thank God for redeeming us?” On the whiteboard, write a very simple response to this complex question and be prepared to discuss your response with the group.
- Option 2: Suppose a friend told you, “I saw the face of Jesus in a cornflake this morning. I kept it and now I can worship it so Jesus will take me to heaven.” How would you respond? What Bible texts would you refer to?
- Option 3: Write a haiku (one five-syllable phrase, one seven-syllable phrase, and another five-syllable phrase) that describes your understanding of the atonement. This haiku can be about your personal conversion experience or about the universal concept of redemption.
Valuing Scripture in Your Life
- For the next three minutes, reflect on how you thank God for your salvation. Is there anything you would add or change about your personal worship experience?
- At the end of three minutes, those who choose to may share their thoughts. Conclude with prayer.