resource covers - young people (9)

Subscribers only: Download as a PDF here.

BIBLE PASSAGE: Matthew 5:38-48 

BACKGROUND: This reading is perhaps one of the best- known pieces of Jesus’ teaching, and also one of the most challenging! In a world that expects ‘getting even’ to be the norm, this session helps young people explore how to do things Jesus’ way. 




As you begin the session, gather the young people together and serve any refreshments you may have. Use this time as an opportu- nity to catch up on news from the last week and to see how your young people are. Ask the group what they find challenging about following Jesus. What do they think is the most challenging thing Jesus ever said? (There are no right or wrong answers here, this is just the start of a conversation to explore further during the session.) 




The way you begin this session will depend on your group. You could begin with a game, asking for two volunteers. Explain that they are to have an ‘insult-off’! They should trade insults with one another, but they must keep the insults good-humoured and light, not personal or offensive. If you are worried about how well this would go, you could ask two leaders to act it out, or ask the two volunteers to do the activity in character as two well-known fictitious enemies. 

If you’d rather steer clear of this altogether, you could begin the  session by looking at a few well-known stories of revenge, perhaps choosing some suitable examples by searching for ‘petty revenge stories’ on the internet (there are various appropriate ones on the Bored Panda website). Explain that while some of these are funny, revenge generally ends in tears and is rarely a comedic story in reality. Say that we will be exploring what Jesus had to say about revenge today. 




You will need: a Bible, appropriate costumes 

Before the session, prepare a volunteer (a leader or young person) to deliver this reading, acting as Jesus, wearing an appropriate costume and delivering it as though teaching the crowd. You could ask a volunteer on the day to deliver the reading, but it would have a greater impact if your volunteer has a chance to learn the reading and really act out this part, speaking with appropriate emphasis and directing their teaching to the crowd. 

Gather the young people  together and ask them to imagine they are sitting together listening to Jesus teaching a huge crowd of many people about a wide variety of subjects. Ask them to imagine they are hearing this teaching for the first time, then invite your actor forward to give their speech. 

At the end, ask your actor to slip away, then choose a few members of the crowd and ask them for their immediate response to Jesus’ teaching. Do they agree with him? Is he right? What do they think? 

Divide your group into two groups: those who agree with what Jesus had to say and those who think there is more truth in the old teaching (an eye for an eye, and loving your neighbour and hating your enemy). 

Encourage some debate between the two groups as to why their way of thinking is right. Draw the discussion together by helping your young people see how radical Jesus’ teaching was – not just back in the day when he said it, but still today, when many of us still find it hard to swallow! 




Continue the discussion about the story, using these questions as a prompt: 

  • How do you feel about this teaching? 
  • What challenges you most about it? 
  • What would you like to ask Jesus about it? 
  • How does this teaching challenge you to live differently? What might you do differently this week? 




Gather the group together and talk about some different scenarios they face in which they might be tempted to seek revenge. Spend some time talking about real-life situations but remind the group to respect confidentiality. You could discuss a situation they have found themselves in at school recently, or you could ask them to think about a situation that has come up in  a TV drama or film they have seen. 

Arrange the young people in smaller groups and ask them to work together  to create two role-play responses to one of the situations you have talked about: one where they take the ‘eye for an eye’ response and another where they turn the other cheek instead. Ask them to pursue the role play to its logical conclusion, exploring where their reaction might lead. 

When they have had enough time to complete their role plays, gather the young people together. If appropriate, you could ask each small group to perform their drama, or you could spend time talking about how these role plays helped them to explore the concepts raised in the Bible reading, and how they feel about it now. 




You will need: paper 

Give each member of the group a sheet of paper and invite them to screw it up or crush it in their hands. As they do so, invite them to think about a friendship that has become ‘crushed’ or to think about someone they have a particularly difficult relationship with, which makes it hard to turn the other cheek. 

Explain that you are going to pray for them, and for the relationships represented on the sheets of paper, that there would be healing, peace, love and restoration. As you pray, encourage the young people to present these challenging relationships to God, and to smooth the paper out between their fingers as they do so, symbolising their relationships being smoothed out. 

Supporting documents

Click link to download and view these files