Needed: (Optional: The Visual Bible)
Show the passage from The Visual Bible if you have it. If not, skip down to the reading.
Have your students take turns reading John 12:37-50.
Read verses 42-43 again. Ask students, why wouldn’t some of the leaders say they believed in Jesus even though they did?
They didn’t want to be looked down on by the other religious leaders. In other words, believing in Jesus wasn’t what most people were doing, so the leaders who did believe in Jesus gave in to peer pressure and pretended like they didn’t believe in Jesus so they could fit in with everyone else.
Let’s talk about this idea of peer pressure for a minute. When have you seen or experienced peer pressure? (Peer pressure can be experienced with drugs, alcohol, smoking, making fun of someone else, cheating, etc.)
What about your belief in God? Have you ever felt pressured not to show your Christian beliefs?
A big one where we might feel peer pressure not to show or talk about our beliefs is in school. It’s not popular to talk about God in school and, in fact, Christians are sometimes made to feel dumb in school because of their beliefs. If we believe in the Bible that God created the world, but the school teaches that the world was created with the Big Bang and Evolution, Christians might feel like they shouldn’t talk about their beliefs. If we believe in God, but science says we shouldn’t believe in God, we might feel pressure not to talk about our beliefs.
That’s kind of how these leaders felt when they believed in Jesus, but felt pressured to pretend that they didn’t believe in Him. It says that they liked to have praise from people rather than praise from God. What does that mean?
It means that they would rather have people think well of them rather than God thinking well of them. But is that a wise choice, to have people happy with you instead of God being happy with you?
I would much rather have God being happy with me. It’s nice to have people thinking well of you, but their opinions of you will only last for as long as they know you or until one of you dies. God’s opinion of us lasts forever and He’s the one who can reward or punish us for all eternity. Making God happy with us matters way more than making people happy with us. Remember that the next time you feel pressured to hide or change your beliefs. Speaking up for what you believe, like the leaders in the story should have done, will be a courageous act that will most certainly make God happy with you, and He will be with you if you stand up for what you believe.
(Read verses 44-45 again.) What does Jesus mean when He says that when people see Him, they’re seeing God?
Jesus is God’s Son, but Jesus is also God. He’s a member of the Trinity, part of God Himself, so when people saw Jesus, they were also seeing God.
(Read the rest of the passage to close.)