Use this Acts Sunday School lesson to teach about the first martyr, Stephen, and the need to forgive others.
Lesson: (Note: Always give students a chance to answer the questions before you clarify the teaching.)
Ask students, Do you think people are ever hurt or killed for doing the right thing? (Help them think of some examples. Examples could include Jesus, who was killed by the priests for telling the truth about God, Abraham Lincoln, who was killed because he ended slavery in the US, and Martin Luther King, Jr., who was killed because he wanted black and white people to all be treated equally.)
Explain that one of Jesus’ followers, Stephen, who was one of the men chosen to help with handing out the food in the church, was arrested by the priests because he was doing the right thing. He was teaching people about Jesus.
(Have students take turns reading Acts 7:51-8:3, or read it yourself.)
What did Stephen see right before he was killed? (He saw God and Jesus standing in Heaven.)
Why do you think God let Stephen see that? (So that Stephen would know that God was proud of him and that God was with him.)
Why did the priests kill Stephen? (Because the priests didn’t believe in Jesus and Stephen told them that they were wrong not to believe in Jesus.)
When they were killing him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Why do you think he prayed that? (He was trusting Jesus to take his spirit (his soul) to Heaven. Everyone who believes in Jesus goes to Heaven when they die.)
Stephen also prayed that God would forgive the priests for killing him. Do you think you could pray for God to forgive someone who was hurting you?
When Jesus was on the cross, He prayed that God would forgive the people who killed Him, too. God wants us to show love and forgiveness to everyone, even people who are mean to us or hurt us. If we pray to God, then He can help us forgive anyone, no matter what they did to us.
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