Friday, August 22, 2008

Burdens and Crosses

Here is an outline of a participatory Bible study for youth.

Notes: Scripture passages are quoted at length to give background. You need not quote the whole passage but focus in on the text in bold. Texts in italics are meant to be paraphrased verbally to the group.

Lift high the heavy Cross

Invite one youth to carry big cross to center. Use a large cross made of two logs, about as much as I can carry by myself, 60+ pounds.

Is this too much for you to carry? Do you need any help?

Now have the whole group lift the cross.

Lift it high. Be aware of how this feels.

Now while the cross is lifted is a good time to pray for blessing our Bible study or the Lord’s Prayer. Set the Cross down carefully.

Is this cross heavy our light? What’s the difference?

Is it easy to be a disciple or hard?

A Contradiction? “My burden is light” versus “Carry the cross”

Words of Comfort

Matthew 11:28-30 28 "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Words of Challenge

Matthew 10:34-40 34 "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and one's foes will be members of one's own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 40 "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.

Matthew 16:24-25 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

How can we resolve this paradox? Is following Jesus easy or heavy?

Not even Jesus could carry his own cross

A stranger is pressed to carry his cross. Who is this?

Matthew 27:31-32 31 After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. 32 As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross.

He can’t save himself from the cross.

Matthew 27:39-43 39 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, "You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross." 41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, 42 "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, 'I am God's Son.'"

If Jesus can’t carry his own cross or free himself from it, how can he save us?

Letting go of our own burden and bearing each other’s burden

Hebrews 12:1-4 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Galatians 6:1-3 My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves.

What’s the difference between a burden and the cross Jesus calls us to carry? Or is it all the same?

What are our burdens? What weighs us down?


1 Peter 5:7 7 Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.

Take this time as an opportunity to let go of burdens.

This week, find someone you can confide in. Support one another.

Invite all to pray around the cross. You may lift the cross as a group again, perhaps halfway up so that faces are not blocked by arms and the Cross.

Image by DeejayMarlon, the Philippines

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